9 se­crets to grow­ing luffa

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Plants With A Purpose -

Grow­ing luffas takes a lit­tle pa­tience and plan­ning, but if you are able to grow cu­cum­bers suc­cess­fully, chances are you can grow luffa. Luffa needs sim­i­lar con­di­tions, only slightly hot­ter. 1 Plants need 150-200 or more frost-free days, lots of sun, warmth, and good or­ganic mat­ter and nutri­ents. 2 A well-drained soil is es­sen­tial – they will not sur­vive wa­ter­logged or muddy soil. 3 Plants need a strong trel­lis or fence to grow up, at least 160-180cm high – with­out a struc­ture, vines will quickly over run the gar­den and pro­duce curved fruit. 4 In any­thing other than a very warm cli­mate, seed will need to be started in­doors in a green­house well be­fore the last frost. Ma­ture seeds are dark and hard, re­sem­bling wa­ter­melon. To soften the seed­coat, pre-soak for 24-48 hours be­fore sow­ing. 5 Soil tem­per­a­tures need to be around 21°C for ger­mi­na­tion, which can take up to 14 days. Ger­mi­na­tion rates range from 50-80% in ideal con­di­tions. 6 Seedlings can be trans­planted at the first true leaf stage, as soon as the soil is warm. They should be han­dled care­fully as they are sen­si­tive to trans­plant shock. Space about 60cm apart, at the base of sup­ports. 7 Ni­tro­gen is needed at the seedling stage. Potash and phos­pho­rus are best held un­til flow­er­ing starts. Too much, too soon and plants may flower pre­ma­turely pro­duc­ing small fruit. 8 When young luffa plants are small, they should be kept weed-free as shad­ing will stunt their growth. Black plas­tic or dark mulch will also help warm the soil, re­duce weeds and in­crease yields. 9 Luffa are great climbers and will cir­cle and climb wooden poles or walls with a rough sur­face. The luffa fruits are heavy so the more the vine ten­drils hold onto, the bet­ter. Train them to go where you want by wrap­ping ten­drils around sup­ports. They are flex­i­ble un­til they get large. Once they are about 1.5 m high, pinch­ing out the grow­ing tip will en­cour­age fruit de­vel­op­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.