This fall Upper Elementary students have been working hard in their permaculture garden. So hard, in fact, that they are in the midst of perhaps the greatest discovery they’ve made all year: how to process the luffas and Carolina Gold rice that they planted in the spring of 2015.
Students planted the luffa gourds with Aubrey in early June by mounding up 3 small hills at the end of beds along the black chain-linked fence. Why here, you might ask? Because these plants produce a beautiful trellising vine that will grow straight up a brick wall all summer long. Our luffas loved that small corner we carved out for them and only at the end of December were they ready to harvest.
Although most of the plantings we have in the garden are edible (and luffas are), there are some that are not! When harvested early, the luffa fruits are eaten often in many South East Asian countries. When left for months to grow large, the fruits become, arguably, nature’s best scouring brushes and sponges!
The process of turning a luffa fruit into a luffa sponge is very laborious, though! First we peeled back the thick flesh… revealing the classic beige web of fiber many of you know as luffa. Second, we squished all the “goop” and seeds from the inside of the fruit and added it to our compost bin–this was the messiest and best part of the process. After we had extracted all the seeds and cleaned the luffa as best we could, Jenny and Eliza tried a little trick to get them sparkling clean. They let them sit in a container of bleach water overnight and put them in the washing machine the following morning. Here’s the final result we’ll be cutting into small pieces to take home this winter:
Stay posted for an account of our rice escapades next week…