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About Luffa Sponge Gourd: The origin of gourds has been a subject of debate for decades. Archaelogical findings seem to show that Asia first domesticated the gourd for use as a container, though Africa and several island nations such as Polynesia and New Zealand also have an early history of using gourds as fishing floats, bottles, or musical instruments. Recent research shows that North America's gourds are nearly as old as those of Asia, which seems to suggest that early peoples who settled in the New World brought gourds with them.

Luffa Sponge Gourd Germination: In shorter growing seasons, start gourd seeds indoors in peat pots 3-4 weeks before the last frost. To speed germination, soak the seeds overnight. Plant the seedlings outdoors in rich soil and full sun after the last spring frost. For direct sowing, wait until the soil warms to 70 degrees F, then plant 5 seeds per hill, 1" deep, with 5' spacing; later, thin to the strongest plant.

Growing Luffa Sponge Gourd Seeds: Keep the soil evenly moist. When the vines begin to develop, either provide a trellis or lay down mulch to keep the gourds from contact with the soil; too much soil contact can weaken the shell, distort the shape, and cause rotting.

Harvesting Luffa Sponge Gourd: Late in the summer, the gourd will begin to lose its green color and turn brown or slightly yellow; at this stage, the skin will feel loose and easy to peel off, and the gourd will be extremely light. Cut off the gourd and remove the skin. The skin should come off easily, but if it is difficult to remove, slamming the gourd against a hard surface or soaking it in water may help. Wash the sponge in soapy water, then spray it with a stream of water to remove the sap still in the fibers. If dark spots still appear, soak the sponge in a bleach solution. Place the sponge in a warm, dry location to completely dry before storing or using it.

Saving Luffa Sponge Gourd Seeds: After the luffa has been peeled, the black seeds will easily fall out. Spread them out to dry; when a seed will snap in two, it has dried sufficiently. If the seed only bends but will not break, further drying time is needed. Store the dry seeds in a cool, dry place for up to six years.

Detailed Luffa Sponge Gourd Info: Luffa cylindrica. Also known as Smooth Luffa, Sponge Luffa, Climbing Okra, Dishrag Gourd. Annual. 60 days. 270 seeds per oz. 48-72" height. 5-6' spacing. Produces large, dark green gourds.

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