2g. Luffa Gourd Seeds, Luffa aegyptiaca, Loofa, 20 seeds
(130 days) Luffa seed germination is often slow and sporadic. To obtain good plant stands, luffa gourds should be produced from transplants. Soak seed in warm water for 24 hours prior to seeding. Sow seeds, two to three per cell, in flats. Thin to one plant per cell after the first true leaves appear. Grow for four to six weeks in a greenhouse at about 65-70 F. Luffa should be transplanted outdoors after all danger of frost is past.
Luffa gourds require a well-drained soil in a location where they will have full sun and good air circulation. Conduct a soil test prior to planting and follow lime and fertilizer recommendations for cucumbers.
To support the weight of mature gourds, 4" x 4" posts set ten feet apart are recommended. The top horizontal support should be a heavy gauge wire or cable. Several other wires can be run horizontally between the top wire and the ground. To help train the vines to the trellis, string can be run between the top and bottom wires in a V-pattern, as for pole beans, or a nylon mesh can be used. In-row spacing of 12-18 inches has produced the highest yields of marketable sponges. The plants need to be hand trained weekly until they reach the top wire. Try to keep all fruit off the ground and away from the trellis wires.