In the garden: Growing Loofah

I’ve had some people ask questions in a garden group about growing loofah and I promised I’d share my experience.  It seems like loofah should come from the ocean, right?  Well, it’s actually from the cucumber family and grows on a vine with a beautiful yellow flower.

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I was having trouble with the pollination of some gourds in my garden the previous year, so I pollinated these myself.  It’s a very long growing season so start as soon as your frost ends.  Since I am now in the Pacific Northwest, I think I’ll grow in my greenhouse for the heat.

Let the loofah dry on the vine until the outer membrane is brown.

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The ribs in the membrane have a string-like thread running along the length.  Pull the thread and remove the membrane.  Some of the seeds will begin to fall out so have a cloth spread out to catch them.

IMG_7433Whack the gourd into a bucket and catch all the seeds.  Yay!  More loofah seeds to plant and share with your friends.  Your friends are definitely going to want to plant when they see your amazing loofah.

IMG_7435Rinse the loofah well.

One of the most amazing things I’ve noticed is that this homegrown and unprocessed loofa doesn’t mildew like store bought.  I cut up with a good pair of scissors and place a piece in every bathroom shower.  Don’t forget to put a few in the kitchen to scrub pots and pans.  If you are a soap maker, pour soap to harden inside slices of loofa.  Search Pinterest for more uses of this wonderful garden sponge.

You will have plenty to last the year or two and enough to share with all your friends.

 


Lavender Wand Tutorial

I’ve had a couple of requests for directions on how to make the lavender wands, so I thought I’d share with you. Easy to make and the scent lasts a very long time. Great for drawers or closets. How about placing one on a gift package for a little extra something?

Lavender Wands

Lavender Wands

Instructions: Because the wands need a firm stem, I prefer to use English Lavender. It has a long stem with the flowers at the end of the stem. You will see lavender sold in the home improvement stores like Spanish and Goodwin. Spanish lavender would not work well because it has a bulky flower head and Goodwin Creek Lavender is a bush with stems that are too short. Look to plant English lavender (Lavandula Augustifolia), also called true lavender.

Cut Lavender

For the wand, choose stems that are strong with firm flower buds.

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Discard stems that look like this:

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You will need 1/4-inch lavender colored ribbon, fabric scissors (to cut the ribbon), floral wire, and wire cutters. Optional: 1/8-inch lavender colored ribbon to tie the wand at the bottom.

IMG_6838Cut 4 feet of 1/4-inch ribbon. Gather 13 lavender stems and trim off any leaves. Some of your stems may have branched out with two smaller flower stems. Pull those off as well. Place 1/4-inch ribbon so that one end of the ribbon is about 2 inch past the end of your flowers. Wrap floral wire around the stems and the ribbon. (This photo shows only an inch of ribbon – you want the ribbon to be another 3 or 4 inches so that the ribbon is hanging past the flowers about 2 inches.)

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Turn the bundle upside down and begin folding the stems over the wire.

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Again, make sure you have more ribbon hanging past the flowers than this photo shows.

Fold over stems in a circular pattern.

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You will have the short tail of the ribbon and the long tail end of the ribbon inside the bundle with your flowers. Pull out between the stems the long tail end of the ribbon and begin to weave to the right. Keep a tight weave.

IMG_6845Continue weaving around over and under. Sometimes a stem will hide behind some flowers and you’ll lose your place so if you come to an over/over or under/under, you’ve skipped a stem.

IMG_6846Continuing weaving all the way down until you just pass your flowers.

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Grasp your short tail ribbon that was inside the wand and the long tail ribbon and wrap around once or twice and tie an overhand knot.

IMG_6851You may want to pull off any flower buds that are poking through the ribbon and tie the bundle at the very bottom with 1/8-inch ribbon to keep the stems neat and tidy.

photoTo freshen up the wand, gently roll between your palms to release the lavender scent. Enjoy!