Growing and Using Luffa Sponges

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I just got home from Asheville, NC and the Mother Earth News Fair where I gave a talk on “How to grow and use Luffa Sponges”  Here is some of the information I presented. Many people are surprised and delighted to learn that a luffa is not a sea sponge but a plant in the cucumber family that can easily be grown in your own home garden.

They are super easy to grow and just need sunshine, water and a place to climb — In about 90 days you will have a full grown gourd that when soaked in water and peeled becomes the bath sponge or household scrubber we have all come to know and love.

There is an excellent article in the March/ April issue of Mother Earth Living Magazine written by Hannah Kincaid, Editor-in-chief.

Luffa seeds can be ordered online and found at most garden shops near the gourds.  I recently discovered The Luffa Ranch in Murphy, NC and they too are a source of seeds and all things Luffa.

Start your seeds indoors and plant outside when there is no chance of frost for most locations this is around Mother’s Day in May.

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Soaking and clipping your seeds also helps them germinate and sprout sooner.  I would recommend doing this.

Give your luffas plenty of sunshine and water and a place to climb and in the Fall you should have sponges ready for harvest.  They should turn brown and you can hear the seeds rattle around inside.

Soak your luffas and peel off their outer skin inside you will have the fibrous skeleton that is used to cleanse your skin.  Make sure you keep your luffa super clean and dry between uses.  you can clean your luffa in a pot of boiling water, in the dishwasher or in the washing machine when you wash your towels.

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Here is a simple luffa cleanser you can make with the green outer peels of the young plants.

Green Luffa Skin Cleanser

1 cup green luffa peels

1 tablespoon aloe vera gel

1 teaspoon raw honey

1-2 tablespoons water

  • Blend together. To use: Massage into damp skin.

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You can also make a simple sugar scrub using grated luffa — simply grate dried luffa with a kitchen cheese grater.  Here is the recipe:

Soothing Luffa Sugar Scrub

1 cup raw sugar

1 /4 cup almond oil

1 /2 teaspoon vitamin E oil

2 Tablespoons grated, dried luffa

  • Stir together. To use: Massage into damp skin

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I hope you try growing luffa this year and if you do — send me photos of your garden and how you are enjoying your plants!  I will check back in the fall when I harvest mine this is what they look like right now

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Happy Growing!

xoxo Janice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apples, Apples, Apples !

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It’s apple picking season and you know what that means — fresh apples, apple cider, apple pie, apple butter and APPLE BEAUTY PRODUCTS!

Some of the oldest folk remedies include apples.  They have been known for centuries for their skin-healing power  Apple juice makes a breath sweetening mouth rinse and can also be used in skin toners and in the bath.  The juice contains malic acid, which acts as an antioxidant in cosmetic recipes and amylase, which is an exfoliating enzyme useful in removing dead skin cells and surface dirt.  Apple juice can even be used as a hair rinse to control dandruff.  The seeds re mildly poisonous and not be used.

So let’s get picking!  I love using those big blue buckets from Lowes  and have dozens of them.  They only cost a few dollars and really last and are easy to clean.

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Of course my dog Elvis loves to go apple picking too!   So now that you have your apples from your own tree, a local orchard or even the grocery store here are a few recipes for you to try from Natural Beauty for All Seasons.

Apple Pectin Toner

Apples are 85 percent water and high in vitamins A and C, and potassium.  Apple pectin is a natural thickener and is often used in recipes as an alternative to gelatin.  When applied as a facial toner, pectin is soothing and refreshing for all skin types.

Ingredients:

1 apple cut with peel, seeds removed

1/2 cup water

1 /4 cup witch hazel

Place the apple in a small saucepan with water and brine to a boil.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.  Strain out apple pulp and pour liquid into a clean container add witch hazel.  To use: spray or apply to your skin with a clean cotton pad.

Yield: 6 ounces

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Fresh Apple Bath

Agatha Christie the great mystery writer loved to take long hot baths and eat fresh apples.  Which sounds like the perfect way to relax and be healthy to me.  Apples are naturally astringent and contain malice acid, which helps remove dead surface cells, leaving the skin smoother.

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh apple juice

1 /4 cup honey

1 /2 cup liquid soap

Stir together all the ingredients and pour into a clean container.  To use: Pour 1 /2 cup into the tub under running water.  You may need to shake gently to remix between uses.

Yield 12 ounces

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Enjoy your apples and remember  “An apple a day — makes you beautiful”

xoxo Janice