Almost 10 years ago I was given a packet of “loofah” seeds. I planted them and ended up with heavily-ridged loofahs that were almost completely impossible to clean for use as sponges/scrubbers.
The netting was good inside… but getting the skins off? No process worked. I tried boiling water, letting them rot, drying, waiting until they were dry on the vine, picking them early, scraping with a knife… nothing worked.
I did some more research and discovered that my “loofahs” weren’t loofahs. I was actually growing angle gourds.
This is an easy mistake. Both are loofahs… but only one is good for sponge-making. If you’re growing angle gourds for sponges, you’ll be quite disappointed.
I thought I had Luffa aegyptiaca… whereas I had Luffa acutangula.
After growing them once in Tennessee and once in Florida, I gave up.
The thing is, angle gourds don’t give up as easy as I do. I threw some old ones in the compost pile in my food forest… and lookie here:
They’re growing themselves!
Since angle gourds are very persistent despite the heat and humidity, I decided to try the young fruits and see if they were tasty. The smell has put me off in the past: they have this rank green odor when the fruit and leaves are broken – yet to my surprise, the cooked young fruit are delicious and sweet… though they really do look strange.
They remind me of the Hindenburg.
The flavor: angle gourds taste like the best of a zucchini mixed with a cucumber. Very good!
They’re really good sauteed, incidentally.
|Why yes, that is bacon grease. And the beans? These guys.|
Since I haven’t done well with either zucchini or cucumbers during Florida’s summers, I think that growing angle gourds will play a big part in my future gardening plans. Since I’ve had them self-seed more than once, it may just be that I can scatter the seeds here and there and let them find their own way in the food forest. That’s what they’re doing this year, so why not?
Now that I’ve tasted them and found them delicious, angle gourds now get the green light to ramble as far as they’d like.