Last year my husband had good luck with “Chinese Okra” – a squash-like vegetable that grows on a vine, look kinda like big zucchini. We also call these “loofah” – pictured above is the stringy sponge left behind when the skin dries up and peels off.
I love my loofah, I’ve used all six or eight my husband gave me last year. At first it was kind of a shock to the skin, but invigorating. They suds up good with a bar of soap, and then rinse out easily and beat dry against the palm of my hand before I set them back in the shower caddy. I smell them from time to time and check for moldy spots – as soon as I spot a little black spot I toss that loofah in the trash and get another one. I’m down to my last one now.
We watched the tiny fruit form from the exotic flowers, some of them withered before they were an inch long, but if they made it beyond that they were usually good to go. We watched them get really big and swollen, and as soon as they’d turned from green to brown and dried to a rattle, the seeds all loose inside, we pulled them off the vine. I hung them in the garage until they were really brittle, then we patiently picked and peeled and rubbed the skin off. Each one was filled with black seeds about the size of watermelon seed, most of them plump and viable. I saved all the good ones in a little bag in my seed box.
I knew they’d be good, but I was still happy to see the little sprouts popping up this spring in our greenhouse. I planted about 16 and got a dozen. My husband planted some along the garden fence
and I tried the others at the base of my clothesline post.
So far, so good. I’ll post some pictures as they grow along.