Do you eat your dish scourer, or compost it? If it's made of luffa, your answer could be yes. Using luffa we could replace scourers made of non-biodegradable plastics and get rid of another source of waste in our homes. Just imagine how many plastic scourers are in landfill around the world and how long they are going to stay there, and consider too the chemicals used to make them. I love growing these in my permaculture food forest - they are so abundant and versatile. Luffa makes great dish scourers, body scrubs and is fabulous food too. You can eat most parts of it. The luffa you see typically (loofah, dishcloth gourd, vegetable gourd) is from:
Luffa cylindrica (cylindrical luffa) is still good to eat, but the preferred one for making dish and bath scrubs.
Another popularly grown luffa is:
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa) which is the tastier of the two and a bit smaller.
Luffa is an abundant annual vine from the cucumber family (Cucurbitaceae) grown over the summer. In warm climates it is prolific, but it can also be grown in cooler climates in a greenhouse. I'll be planting more here in southeast Queensland (Australia) in Spring after any chance of frost has passed. I'm going to start making a new big arbour for it so I can produce enough for our household uses this year.
LUFFA FOR CLEANING DISHES
Slice up the dried luffa and use it as a dish scourer. To keep it fresh, rinse it well and let dry after use. When it's getting a bit old, just compost it or add it to the worm farm.
LUFFA AS BODY SPONGE
A perfect body scrub that can be used as a natural sponge or added into soaps. Its a wonderful way to exfoliate. It's gentle and can be used on sensitive skin and is great for those suffering from eczema and psoriasis. Again, let it dry after use to keep it fresh. These natural sponges make really nice gifts too.
LUFFA AS FOOD
Fruits: I really enjoy luffa as one of my abundant summer vegetables. In India, young luffas are popular in curries. If you want to eat it, you have to pick it young before the fibrous centre forms. Typically harvest them before they get 10 cms long. You can also use luffas instead of zucchini in many dishes. Eat them raw, sliced into a salad. If you keep picking the mature fruits, you'll encourage it to keep fruiting. Leaves: The leaves are an abundant summer leafy green - always there to pick. In Malaysia, the young leaves are eaten raw. You can add them to most dishes you would use spinach in, and they make great little wraps. Flowers: The beautiful large flowers are also edible. How do you eat your luffa?
LUFFA FOR SHADE AND PRIVACY
Luffa rapidly grows to cover a trellis, a shed, an arbour or a chicken pen. Make sure it's strong though because luffa is prolific fruiter and each one of those fully grown fruits is heavy. The quick growing vine is used to easily create a privacy screen along a fence too. It's great for screening ugly structures too.