How To Grow Sponge Gourd (Luffa aegyptiaca) and its Health Benefits
Tinda, Lauki, Karela or Tori – we’ve hated these vegetables all throughout our childhood. But times are changing now.
Ranveer Brar – an eminent chef with 5 million+ YouTube subscribers – recently uploaded a video, on sponge gourd, or tori in hindi.
The video has so far garnered 470k+ likes, and millions of views, and that’s proof enough of how good the recipe must have been.
Not just him, Maine Pyar Kiya actor Bhagyashree took to her Instagram a year ago and gave us a glimpse of her homegrown sponge gourd and talked about the various benefits of eating Tori.
When famous people talk about underrated and disliked vegetables, we also gear up to change our eating habits and mindset.
Good news is that they aren’t wrong.
Tori or Sponge Gourd is a great source of Vitamin A, C, Fibre, Potassium, and Manganese.
It’s a low-calorie vegetable that's effective in combating menstrual pain. It is known to treat sinuses and seasonal allergies too.
It is recommended for heart patients too.
In this article, we’ll learn
- True Facts about sponge gourd
- What are the health benefits of sponge gourd?
- How to cultivate sponge gourd at home?
- Care tips for growing sponge gourd
Ready to dive in? Let’s get started.
True facts about sponge gourd
- The sponge gourd is also known as the Luffa or Loofah gourd
- Although the sponge gourd's actual origins are unknown, it is a native of Asia and can be found growing wild in countries like India, the Philippines, and Myanmar.
- In 1890, it was first transported to the American tropics from Japan, where it had been grown commercially
- The sponge gourd belongs the Cucurbitaceae (cucumber) family
- The sponge gourd mostly found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world
- The flesh of the sponge gourd is smooth and creamy-white. The sponge gourd has a delicate flavour akin to zucchini.
- Do you know that the dried fibres of mature sponge gourds are used to make sponges? These are used to create scrubbing sponges for bathrooms and kitchens as well as loofahs to exfoliate the skin.
- Sponge gourd is a superfood. Numerous vitamins and minerals are included in it, including dietary fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A, riboflavin, zinc, thiamine, iron, and magnesium.
- Antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal properties have been discovered in sponge gourds
What are the health benefits of sponge gourd?
1. Boosts immunity
It is crucial to develop a healthy immune system because it will help prevent many diseases. You can build a strong immune system using sponge gourd juice. Your body's defence system will be strengthened, better enabling it to fend off illnesses and viruses.
2. Improves heart health
A healthy and happy heart means a pleasing life. The presence of Vitamin B5 in sponge gourd helps lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides. This will consequently lower the risk of developing heart-related illnesses.
3. Good for eyesight
You require an adequate amount of vitamin A to preserve sharp vision. The macular degeneration that causes blindness is prevented by the sponge gourd because it is a good source of vitamin A. When you eat sponge gourd, you can also get rid of other eye-related issues.
4. Treats arthritis
In order to improve muscle strength, copper is crucial. Sponge gourd is a wonderful source of copper. Include this in your diet because that will save you from inflammatory diseases like arthritis. Eating sponge gourd can help with arthritic pain and stiffness. Copper in a sponge gourd also helps in repairing cognitive tissues.
5. Prevents and maintains diabetes
In addition to decreasing lipid peroxidation and improving mitochondrial function, manganese promotes insulin secretion. Sponge gourds have a lot of manganese, thus it is advised to eat them since they will generate digestive enzymes that lead to gluconeogenesis and, ultimately, prevent diabetes. The insulin-like alkaloids and peptides in sponge gourd help in maintaining the sugar levels both in blood and urine.
6. Improves brain function
Do you know how a lack of iron can affect you? Lack of iron will cause forgetfulness, lethargy, restlessness, inattentiveness, and decreased productivity. The sponge gourd is high in iron, which your brain requires to function properly.
7. Purifies blood
On a timely basis, cleansing is important because we cannot avoid junk all the time. The sponge gourd has a remarkable capacity to cleanse the blood and maintain the healthy condition of your liver. It also minimises the side effects caused by prolonged consumption of alcohol.
8. Treats anaemia
Sponge gourd has an abundance of vitamin B6, which is necessary for the production of haemoglobin in the blood. This haemoglobin carries oxygen to the cells and activates iron. So, including sponge gourd in your diet will prevent anaemia.
9. Gives radiant skin
Who doesn't want to have glowing, youthful skin? The presence of vitamin C in sponge gourd will help provide you with just that. Wrinkles, dullness, or dryness of the skin, and the spots of ageing on your skin will reduce with regular consumption of sponge gourd. Vitamin C produces proteins that form tendons, skin, ligaments, and blood vessels that help heal the wounds.
10. Promotes weight loss
The sponge gourd is a great vegetable for weight loss because it is low in saturated fats. Sponge gourds contain a high amount of water, fewer calories, and less cholesterol than other vegetables. It must therefore be included on your list of vegetables for weight-loss regimens.
Also, sponge gourd, when fully developed and dried, is used as a scrubber.
How to cultivate sponge gourd at home?
You have to find a container that is more than 12 inches deep and wide. It can be made of plastic, clay, or any other material but it must have proper drainage holes at the bottom. Opt for a 16-18 inches deep and wide container for growing sponge gourd. Once your pot or container is selected, use a nutrient rich potting mix soil. This soil has good water retention properties. Also put organic compost in this potting soil mix for healthier sponge gourd vegetables.
Sowing and germination of seeds
- If you plan to grow 3-4 plants, then take a 20 litre pot/container
- Maintain a space of 4-5 inches between plants so that the roots can stretch in all direction
- Now soak the seeds of sponge gourd in water for 10-12 hours
- This soaking seeds in water will help in faster germination
- Mark the areas where you intend to plant the seeds with a pencil or anything else
- Now, using one of your fingers, poke 3/4-inch to 1-inch-deep holes in the grounds
- Place the sponge gourd seeds in these holes loosely cover them with the potting soil mix
- Water the pot gently and sufficiently
- Do not let the soil to dry out
- Seedlings will be produced in 3-5 days
Growing sponge gourd in containers
- Remember that this sponge gourd is a climber plant, and it grows at a fast rate. Therefore, you need to prepare a trellis well in advance.
- The trellis should be at least 6 feet in height
- You can also use fishing nets if you plan to grow this plant vertically
- This trellis will be required when the plant reaches a height of 6-8 inches, as this is the stage at which they begin to shoot tendrils to climb upwards.
- It is a thirsty plant and also requires abundant sunlight to thrive. So, the soil can never dry out.
- You also have to mulch the pot or container to avoid evaporation
- Use liquid soil conditioner or fertiliser every fortnight. Once the flowers appear, you need to increase this frequency.
- When fruits appear, add some extra nutrients to the soil
- Finally, remember to nip off the tendrils as that will help increase the yield
Care tips for growing sponge gourd at home
The sponge gourd plant grows well in properly-drained, loamy soil with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.
Make sure wherever you keep it, be it your terrace or balcony or garden, it receives at least 6-9 hours of sunlight per day.
Remember that watering is important, but overwatering will be harmful to this plant. It is a thirsty plant, so you cannot leave the soil dry. Always keep the soil slightly moist.
After a few days of transplanting the seedlings, cover the top of the container with 20% well-rotted manure or compost, or mix all-purpose, slow-release fertiliser with the soil in a light dose. Feed the plant once more with a balanced liquid fertiliser of half-strength during mid-growth as it begins to flower.
The ideal temperature for healthy growth of sponge gourd vegetables is 25-28 degrees Celsius.
Sponge gourd plants suffer from powdery mildew, which is a result of humid weather. So, you should avoid wetting the foliage while watering, and that will prevent the growth of mildew. You have to be careful of pests like mealybugs, aphids, and slugs.
The sponge gourd is a sun-loving plant. It demands 6–9 hours of direct and abundant sunlight for proper growth and vegetation.
Frequently asked questions related to Sponge Gourd
Is sponge gourd a climber?
Yes, Sponge gourd is a creeping or climbing plant.
What is sponge gourd known as in Hindi?
The Hindi name of sponge gourd is tori, turai, or luffa.
What is the season for sponge gourd?
The ideal season for sponge gourds to grow is summer. The seeds are planted twice: once in mid-February to March and again in mid-May to July.
Is sponge gourd a winter vegetable?
No, the sponge gourd is a summer vegetable.
Is sponge gourd good for your health?
The sponge gourd is highly effective in maintaining blood sugar levels, providing good eyesight, promoting weight loss, improving heart health, and treating arthritis.
How long does a sponge gourd take to grow?
Sponge gourd generally starts to grow after 70–80 days of sowing.