Check your luffa plants frequently and remove any dried gourds. These will be brown, feel light and dry, and rattle with loose seeds when shaken. Harvest the fruit immediately if frost arrives, as the fruits may rot if left on the vine past this time.
I know that not many people grow luffa at all and those who do, generally grow it as a novelty or for the "sponges". However, did you know that luffa is actually also a delicious edible? It not only makes a great substitute for cooked or fresh summer squash when medium-sized and still green (although you may need to peel it) but while still fairly small and tender can be used fresh (without peeling) as a substitute for cucumbers as well.
We have extremely hot, humid summers where I live--in addition to squash bugs, vine-borers, blister beetles and Yellow Cucumber Vine Wilt (a really bad disease of cucurbits, melons and squashes)--all of which means that we have a heck of a time getting anything edible off our cucumber and squash vines these days. Luffa, on the other hand, seems unperturbed by most things and once it gets started, will produce tons of fruits right up until frost. It's nice to have something that consistently produces when the rest of the garden is over-run by pests and diseases!
Another thing ... there is a "winged" variety (actually, this was the species that I was first introduced to years ago before I found out some of them were smooth) that is a night-bloomer. The flowers open up in huge masses and attract night-flying moths as pollinators. The smooth variety that I've planted has day-blooming flowers so you can mix them together and attract pollinators day or night. The flowers smell good too!
In case you need to rip out your loofas (I had many still on the vine and needed to take the vines out to put in my fall crops, and frost was still far away last year), if you hang them in a protected area they may dry well.
However, I found that the ones that I processed when they were green (say, ones that I dropped and cracked, which would have rotted) turned out to be whiter and have better fiber than the ones I processed after they turned brown and hollow.
It is a bit of a PITA to process green ones (take off skin, squeeze, let soak, let dry) but I think the results are better. if you let them hang til they seem a bit lighter, they are easier to get the skin off.
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