Dishrag Gourds are also know as Luffah Sponge Gourds. They are one of the few gourds that can be eaten and are considered a special treat by many. I tried one once but the gourd in its mature stage interests me more. To me the gourd tasted somewhat like a cucumber.
The gourd earned its name by being used as dishrags for dishes many years ago and as the sponges that are put on handles and used in showers and baths. I have even seen a craft recipe where the luffah gourds are cut into sections and covered with soap to make a specialty gift item.
The Luffah gourd is different than most gourds to grow. Its a very delicate gourd plant. It starts slowly and grows slowly, at least here in NW PA.
The first year I grew the Luffah I was disappointed. The plants looked sickly and stayed the same size. Summer was flying by the the Luffahs were not growing. I was about to write the adventure off as a flop but all of a sudden they took off. They were all vine! Again disappointment set in. I just watered and fertilized them and pretty much ignored them.
One day I saw small gourds hiding under leaves. I was going to have a crop after all!
My first crop was small, 12 or so Luffah Gourds that were nine to 15 inches long.
It was now time to cure the gourds.
This was an adventure!
The yellow luffahs are more mature and the skin is tougher and I peeled the skin off.
The green luffahs had a softer skin and I read they needed to be soaked for four to five days in water and the skin would peel off leaving the sponge exposed. The sponges also stay softer if they are harvested green.
I had no place to soak the gourds so they ended up in two buckets in the dining room. I had to put boards on top of the gourds to hold them under the water. Being rather pourous the gourds did not want to be submerged in water. Day three, the gourds were getting rather slimy and discusting. I tried to shove one stubborn gourd under the water.
Suddenly it popped out of the water and acted like a rocket. It was airborn and headed 15 foot away into the livingroom where the family was. I was in shock and had no time to warn them.
To this day, I have not lived this down.
I just recently read online that others have removed the skins by freezing the gourd, putting the gourd in hot water for 15 minutes and some have cooked them. It’s really a “try a method” and see what works for you.
The Luffah Sponge Crop
I ended up with about nine luffah sponges. You need to bleach them, clean them and remove the seeds. It’s a crop that takes a lot of work but I continue to grow them. I now soak them in the greenhouse!