12/12/2008

Snowflakes & Loofahs

Thank you to those of you who sent contributions to the Shouse family, and for all of the people who passed on the information to their churches and others. The help is very much appreciated.

We had snowflakes falling this week. I've always been told that, "no 2 snowflakes are alike, ever." Well, those weather people can't get the weather right most of the time, so I can't imagine why I believed that, "scientific fact" either. In this photo you can see the flakes are like they were cut out with cookie cutters. I took half a dozen photos of collections of flakes, all of them exactly like the others. "No 2 alike.." baloney.

I've been sorting seed and cataloging them for winter. Soon I'll post offerings of the Bhut Jalokia peppers on Ebay. I'll also offer other seeds including the achochas I keep mentnioning.

This week I harvested several of the luffa sponges, which were partly dried, and brought them indoors to finish drying. Under the wood stove, they will lose their moisture. Then I will walk on them to break the thin, brittle skins. Each gourd has a string between each ridge and those pull down like zippers and strip away some of the skin. Once the rest is picked away I'll shake the seed out and place several sponges in a cloth bag and run them through a beaching in the washer. When all finished, I should have a great collection of nice, natural, linen-colored sponges.

You may know this plant by some of its other names: Vining Okra, Sponge Gourd, Loofah, Dishrag Gourd, etc. When the fruit is small, about the size of a hot dog, it's cooked like okra. The best variety of luffa for cooking, as far as flavor, is the Thai or angled luffa. It has ridges instead of smooth skin, slightly tougher skin when dry, but just as easy to peel when mature.

I ran across a "new" ball loofah that is about the size of an egg. Also called hedgehog loofah, it's warty when green, but when it dries the skin and prickles fall off. This one can also be cooked and eaten but its real utility is in use as a small bath and beauty sponge. Rachel's Supply has those.

The photo of gourd varieties shows the sponge gourd, which is the smooth skinned variety, and the ribbed or angled gourd. In all, there are some 30 or more varieties of luffas, all of them producing various kinds of sponges. Some are fine grained, some coarse, but they all produce a useful and durable sponge.

We're expecting snow and/or sleet in the garden in the next few days. It may make kids happy for some extra no-school days, instead what it reminds me is there are $29 one-way tickets to Florida on Allegiant Airlines. Very tempting.

1 comment:

Grumpy Gardener said...

Hey Jim,

Ever wondered who was the first guy to try eating a bitter gourd? My wife is an operating room nurse and that thing looks just like a tumor she takes out of patients! I tell you, you gotta be hungry.