Also known as “Luffa”, the Sponge gourd plant is a vine-like plant and part of the cucumber plant. The Sponge gourd is famous for its inner sponge. Since it is not a tropical plant it requires good care for accurate growth and harvest of luffa. The Sponge gourd is green in color and has a smooth texture when young. It is harvested when it is around 12 centimeters long and can grow up to 60 centimeters. Sponge gourd seeds are 1.5 centimeters in length. These seeds are edible but people remove them before eating the flesh. It is interesting to know that even flowers are edible too and have multiple health benefits.. The inside of the Sponge gourd is white in color. When eaten, it has a mild sweet taste and silky texture. The inner sponge is commonly used as a scrubber for body or counter-tops, etc. It is also often used in Indian cuisines.
What are the health benefits and nutritional value of Sponge Gourd?
Natural luffa plants are a complete package of nutrition. It contains zinc, thiamine, magnesium, and iron which are beneficial for our body. It is also a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C. Moreover, it has been used to cure skin diseases and jaundice, diabetes, and other health issues too since they have antioxidants and antibacterial properties. Therefore, it is a good healthy decision to grow luffa gourds. There are other vegetables and herbs also that help in building a strong immunity.
How to use Sponge Gourd in food?
The natural luffa plant is widely used in various cuisines however, only the young fruit of it is used. You can either eat it raw, by cutting it into slices for salad or cook a vegetable dish out of it. It absorbs the flavors of other spices and ingredients added with it in the pan. For nonvegetarians, it makes up for good stuffing inside the meat, such as pork, and steamed. People also utilize it in soups, chutneys, curries, and other liquids. It is suggested to consume the fruit as soon as it is brought, however, you can store it in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days maximum.
How to grow Sponge Gourd?
The best sowing time of seeds is in the month of summer, sometime around April since it is a warm-season plant. It requires full sunlight and regular water should be provided, ensuring that the soil is always moist. Follow this simple guide to learn about sponge gourd farming.
- Take a pot of your choice and fill it with a proper amount of potting layers.
- Plant the seeds in a pot and 2 centimeters deep into the soil. Ensure that the soil temperature is warm around 10-40 degrees celsius.Use of best soil ensures good yield.
- The seeds would germinate within 6 to 8 days. False leaves known as cotyledons would emerge in the second week of germination. And the first leaf would come above the cotyledons at the end of the second week. After the second week, seedlings would start growing into small plants. You should only keep one seedling at one spot and then cut the weak ones with scissors.
- Keep the pot in a sunny spot under open sunlight.
- In summer, provide water to the luffa plant every day so that it does not result in a dried luffa plant. Also, water the soil near the plant to keep it moist.
- Add some organic fertilizer and compost. Those manures that are high in nitrogen are advised to be used for luffa planting.
- It is better to grow the plant with a support system. You can use a fence or some other strong thing for support.
- Analyze your plant daily. In case of any symptoms of any fungal infection or disease, spray medicine as soon as possible to protect the plant, or else it would not grow adequately.
- The plant would require enough space to grow therefore it is better to put up a strong trellis or about 5 to 6 feet long in height by using bamboo, wires, ropes, etc.
- Kitchen purpose: If you wish to use your sponge gourd plant for kitchen purposes then you should harvest it in its tender fruit stages before it starts flowering. This usually takes place after 4 months of sowing the seed.
- Sponge: On the contrary, if you want to utilize the inside sponge of the plant then wait for flowers to arrive and then pick the sponge gourd. It should then be dried and ripped to get the white sponge inside it.
- The seeds are mainly responsible for the propagation of the luffa plant.
As you can see it is difficult to grow a strong Sponge gourd plant but not impossible! Follow the above instructions by Urja seeds and you will have a beautiful plant in your garden by the end of the year. You can use it to experiment with different dishes. Otherwise, you can also use it as a scrubber. So go ahead and take up this challenging yet fun activity!
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Q1: How do you increase the yield of sponge gourd?
Ans: In order to do so, use FYM (full) with NPK (full) since these with the addition of manure or vermicompost increase the plant growth effectively with the production of more carbohydrates.
Q2: Which flower do sponge gourd plants grow?
Ans: The luffa plant grows both male and female flowers. Both of them are yellow in color and in order to distinguish between male and female flowers, keep in mind that female flowers are attached to the gourd