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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Beauty with Corn

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I know all you modern farm girls  love corn – it is one of the most versatile of the natural grains and can be used from head to toe to keep your skin clean, soft and comfortable.

Corn often gets a bad rap because so many food products are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.  But there are other corn base ingredients that are naturally good for your skin and hair.  Ground Corn Meal is an amazing skin scrubber.  Cornstarch is a soothing natural powder and also used to make gel lotions and corn oil is a soothing and moisturizing oil that works wonders on dry skin.  Here are a few of my favorite recipes using this farm favorite.  Enjoy!

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Corn Flour or Cornstarch – Easily found in your kitchen cupboard or at the grocery store

Corn Flour Lotion

Corn Flour or Cornstarch makes a light, non greasy lotion that is perfect for soothing dry, chapped hands.  This is an old fashioned recipe that some of you may remember your grandmothers using.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable glycerine

2 tablespoons corn flour (cornstarch)

/2 cup distilled water

2 tablespoons rose water

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients in an ovenproof glass container.  Heat until just boiling and thick  a few minutes in the microwave or on the stove top.  The lotions will be clear and jelly like: stir thoroughly and let cool completely.  To use: Massage into your skin.

Yield: 6 ounces

Note: If your lotion is too thick you may thin it with more water or rose water.

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Fresh ground yellow corn meal — For fun try blue or white cornmeal in recipes

Corn Meal Dry Shampoo

Using a dry shampoo can be an effective way to remove grease and dirt from your hair without getting it wet.  It can be a bit messy so make sure you stand on a towel or lean over a sink while “shampooing.”

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon cornmeal

Directions:

Massage the cornmeal into your scalp and let sit for a few minutes.  Leaning over a sink or tub gently brush your hair with a natural bristle brush to remove the cornmeal.

Yield: .5 ounces (one shampoo)

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Pure Natural Corn Oil perfect for soothing dry skin

Corn oil and sugar body scrub

Pure corn oil makes a nice all over natural body oil it also can be used as the base for a moisturizing and cleansing body scrub.  This is the perfect treatment to even out a fading tan and get your skin super clean.

Ingredients:

1 /4 cup corn oil

1 Tablespoon corn meal

1 /4 cup raw sugar

2-3 drops essential oil of sweet orange

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients and spoon into a clean container with a  tight fitting lid.  To use:  In the bath or shower massage sugar scrub into damp skin then rinse well.  You may follow up with more natural corn oil to lock in moisture.

Yield: 3 ounces

 

Happy Fall !! You are beautiful

xoxo Janice