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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 1:44 am 
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One weakness of these luffas is that they tend to produce in batches where there's about a week delay if they are all planted at the same time. Luckily one plant was planted much later, and it is just barely starting to produce. Each vine shuts off any further production one the holding capacity is met. After the fruits are harvested, the vines will get thicker, longer, and produce again. There's not much space left as the longest vine is only about 2ft away from the end of the trellis.

Here's what it looks like when there are a lot of fruits getting right up to harvesting size. This picture shows about 40% of them in the frame. It's tough to get them all harvested when they produce at this rate, but after this wave, the production will be relatively slow until these vines pick up steam ago in preparation for another stronger wave of fruits which should happen around the beginning of September.

Here's a nice picture showing lots of fruits approaching maturity.
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This one seemed to be confused whether it wanted to turn into a male or female flower.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:51 am 
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Even though there's so many of them getting produced, some of them can still get pretty long. It seems like their shape is sometimes determined by the way each one comes out as well as what it runs into when it's getting formed. I like the super long ones that get past 3ft in length because they still get up to the same thickness as the shorter ones.
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These are probably the worst ones because they can't get that big, and are tough to peel the skin off. I've seen them even more deformed than this before.
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One of the problems is that once you get 20-30 fruits per vine, there is so much energy invested into fruit production so that the vines haven't really grown much in the past 2 weeks. It also causes the rest of the fruits on that given vine to abort. I'm not even getting an inch per day now, but to alleviate this problem, I intend to keep these guys harvested more regularly, and up the nitrogen fertilization. There will still be about a week gap between the end of this flush of fruits, and the next one, but I know the next flush of fruits will be even greater than this one which yielded 200-300 fruits over 6 plants. They are far more productive than any other garden plant I know of.

Here's probably the longest vine which is still hanging around 2ft away from the edge of the trellis, but it's only growing about 1/3 an inch per day, at least until the rest of those fruits are picked off to take some strain off these vines.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:36 am 
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Right now, the longest vine is just about 4 inches shy of reaching the end of the trellis which should happen easily tomorrow with many other vines closing in too so that means it was worth it to make such a huge trellis.
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There's only around 40 of them left in the 2nd flush of fruits which numbered over 200 of them a being produced over a 2 week time.
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This is not a big deal because the 3rd flush of fruits are just starting to form and will get a good start with the warm weather all of next week. These should be at their peak production in about 2 weeks.
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I'm still impressed at how prolifically they produce. Their vines generally top out at 1 inch in diameter with vines that easily exceed 30ft in a season so it seems like the one factor that gets them to produce like crazy is to give them plenty of growing room with an enormous trellis. The best part about them is that they don't stop producing until the first frost.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:44 pm 
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It is Labor day, and I did notice that the longest vine has surpassed the 30ft mark at the end of the trellis with many others only 1-2ft behind so this should mean that by October, lots of these vines will be hanging off the trellis as they did end up making about 8ft of progress last month even with the slow down when they produced around 250-300 fruits in that time frame.

There are hardly and fruits over 1ft in length now which means most of the energy is committed towards vine production so it will be interesting to see just how filled up this trellis can become with only 7 plants. Unlike cucumbers, this vine just keeps producing and growing more vines, and fattens up the main stem to support more vines.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:27 am 
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How much biomass do you think one vine could produce? It seems like a lot of growth and more food than I could eat... And I eat a lot.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:01 am 
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I think if there was no competition from all these other plants, and an optimal climate, one plant may be able to put out over 1000 fruits in the 2ft length range which means over 1000lbs of biomass as each fruit weights 1-2lbs. I can easily get over 1000 fruits with 7 plants, but I'm not doing everything I can possibly do to optimize their performance nor am I in that warm of a climate.

My trellis is not really optimized as these vines are growing pretty close to each other, and they are shading each other out as well as sharing the same growing point with lots of other plants. Unlike melons, cucumbers, or other vegetables most people are familiar with, these luffa plants don't stop producing. They seem to even produce more as the season goes on as they have more vines, and a bigger stem for more energy to flow through the pipeline.


It was kind of tough getting them started, but once they have a good start, there's really no more work involved other than thinning out some leaves every 2 weeks, and harvesting the fruits before they get hard and bitter.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:54 am 
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With daytime highs only in the 60s, there's finally a slight slow down in the production of these things, but it only takes a few days near 90F to reload the vines. Some of the vines have grown past the 30ft run from starting point to the end of the trellis so they will have to turn around.

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I know these fruits can elongate by as much as 5 inches in a day when it is hot and sunny, so it made sense to harvest off all the bigger ones despite not being completely ripe yet. One big fruit often clogs up the nutrient flow through the given vine, preventing the smaller fruits further down the vine from forming.
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One thing I have realized about these steel pipes is that they are very sturdy despite how thin they are, and should work perfectly fine if used as a frame material for a greenhouse, which won't be they hard to do with some cutting tools and a bit of planning, and blueprint work.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:56 am 
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It's finally the start of fall, and the luffa trellis is almost completely covered, some of them growing past the end by a few feet, but it's getting cooler now so growth has really slowed down. The production is also not as great as it was in the first part of September, but should stay strong, at least through the rest of the month. About 100 fruits have been harvested per plant so far.

Here's the view of the top. I should get an aerial view, but didn't bring out the ladder today.
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The leaves do look a bit duller, now that there's less daylight than before.
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The stems don't appear to be getting as big as the one from last year, but I think that may be attributed to too much competition between them, reducing the availability of sunlight to any one plant.
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They are outgrowing the potato vines.
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Some of the fruits.
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The luffas are a bit past their prime production, but the bitter melons are just getting started, and are finally starting to produce heaviliy.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:40 am 
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With the warmup we have had lately, it looks like the luffa production is picking up, and it has gotten up to over 1000 fruits off 7 plants, 6 plants now since one of them rotted away back in August. It looks like all the vines have stopped growing by now so no new leaves are getting produced, but new fruits are still coming on, perhaps due to the decrease in daylight.

The fruits are a bit shorter now in early October, and sometimes distorted, but the quantity and rate of growth is still up there. These vines start up their production by July, and usually keep producing until the first frost which usually happens by around November 1st.

The larger ones in these pictures are in the 5th flush, and the 6th flush is right on the horizon.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:08 am 
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As a summary of the luffas, I'm finding that each vine typically produces around 150-250 fruits in a season, so 7 of them makes over 1000, and they will keep producing until the first frost which should happen from pretty soon so I need to pick them even though they aren't all fully grown yet.

They really don't make much progress unless it gets above 60F so it is just about the end of the season for the luffas.
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The air potatoes have been exceptionally productive this year. The way I pick them is basically holding a large container and shaking the vines making sure I don't destroy the luffas while I'm at it.

Here's a sample of the harvests. I'm looking forward to seeing whats underground, but I'll wait until the luffas are done growing first.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:35 pm 
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Hi Steve,

You have so much of the luffa, do you sell the seed? If so, which website that I can buy the seed from you? Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:00 am 
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I actually don't purposely leave more of them to go to seed since I only intend on growing a few plants each year for the garden so I don't sell them. Right now, all I sell are bamboos and peonies along with some other perennial plants, but luffa seeds can be found all over the internet.

I think this luffa is a pretty common seed that can be found in Asian grocery stores, or the internet if you looked up long angled luffa.

Here's what I think I may have.
http://www.evergreenseeds.com/anluexlo.html

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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 5:58 am 
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This year, I knew that there could be very late frosts so I intentionally started the luffa from seed right around mid April which is fairly late, but we have potential frosts in the next couple nights. 38F is not cold enough to do damage, but if we have a frost warning, I am going to put some roofing insulation on.

They are at the 5 leaf point which means they are primed to start vining and climbing the trellis. This time, I have 12 plants which are crawling up the middle of the trellis so their roots do not interfere with the greens since their root systems can extend out to around 2 meters in radius.

Here are a few of them. There was a bit of burn from their leaves adapting to full sun after coming out of the t5 light setup 2 weeks ago. It should be fine to start applying some foliar feed miracle gro, and epsom salts in light concentration since they are still pretty small.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:47 am 
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These luffas were kind of behind last year's growth from my last post, but they have certainly caught up because my longest vines are already around 15ft in length. Starting in the middle of the trellis will allow them to grow without competing with the potatoes.

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These stems should surpass the thickness of the pipes by around August which is when they should cover most of the trellis. Starting in the middle will make this much easier for them to grow both directions.
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The stems have only become swollen on the bottom section below the false leaves getting to 2/3 inches, but it's very possible for some of them to surpass the 1 inch diameter mark by early August.
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