As Summer moves smoothly towards its decline it is time for us to be harvesting the bounty of our labours. For me this means fruits, seeds, berries and loofahs. My fig trees have supplied a bountiful harvest, whilst this years Marigolds have been astounding especially as they followed a lovely show from the Sunflowers. But to be honest it’s the loofahs that have been the greatest success and caused the greatest consternation to Cruella (my wife).
21st August. Things I have been doing lately:
Harvesting Loofahs. If you haven’t grown loofahs, then you really should. They are a lovely annual climber which produce a profusion of large yellow flowers which the bees love, with the added bonus of loofah gourds which are fantastic for skin care. It was Cruella’s idea that I should grow loofahs as she had heard that it was good for exfoliating the skin in general and the removal of warts on the nose in particular, both of which are perennial problems in Cruella’s coven.
Cruella became impatient for the loofah harvest and would ask me daily when they would be ready. I explained that when the gourds turn completely brown and I can hear the seeds rattle, then they would be ready. In that case she said they are ready. When I asked her how she knew she explained that she could hear their death rattle as she passed them every day. I asked what it sounded like and she said just like a human death rattle; I left it there. The photos below show. Cruella confirming the loofah death rattle.
When your first loofah harvest is ready, all the gourds will be a deep dried brown and you will be able to hear the seeds rattle. If you are lucky you may get a second harvest. The first photo below shows some of my loofahs ready to be harvested. The second photo shows a second harvest coming on. The third photo shows the bag that Cruella gave me to store the harvest in, she thought it very fitting. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Processing loofahs. Processing a loofah gourd could not be easier. First you gather in all the gourds that are ready. The photo below shows part of my harvest.
You start off the process by snapping off the end of the gourd which is opposite to the stem. This presents you with a neat little hole at one end from which you can pour out the plentiful seeds. Once you have all the seeds out you should gently crush the gourd by rolling it in your hands. This process will crack the skin and allow for it to be peeled off very easily. The loofah is then ready for use. The final part of the process is is to gently blow away the seeds paper like coating. The easiest way to do this is to toss the seeds into the air and blow; between you and the wind they will all fly away.
The first photo below shows how easy it is to snap off the end of the gourd (it works every time without fail). The second photo shows the seeds pouring out. The third photo shows my gentle crushing technique. In the next photo you can see the bathroom ready loofah. Finally my award winning gentle seed blowing. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Harvesting Marigold seeds. Regular readers of this blog will remember that I told you to mark the first and best of your Marigold blooms by placing a strip of masking tape around the best blooms. The purpose of this was to mark where the best blooms where and to make sure that you didn’t deadhead them.
The photo below shows some of my saved seed heads just after I harvested them. They are ready for harvest when they are fully brown and dried looking. Never harvest them when they are wet with rain or dew. It is best to harvest late on a hot sunny afternoon as this will stop any rot or mildew setting in whilst the seeds are being stored.
To begin harvesting the seeds, cut off the stem and marker flag. Then holding the seed pod upright gently pull and rub off the remnants of petals and bits of furze on top of the seed pod. Once all this has been removed gently roll and crush the seed pod between your thumb and forefinger. If you keep up a gentle pressure the seeds will gradually flow out into your hand. This process can be seen in the photos below. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Finally the photos below show the saved seeds ready to be stored in a plain white sealable envelope ready for planting next Spring. Isn’t God good. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Finally I have a new friend. Most of the regular readers of this blog will know that I lead a wretched existence as I scurry between the potting bench, compost bins and the safety of my shed. I have a haunted look about me and try to stay in the shadows. All of this is brought about by Cruella (my wife) who seems constantly intent on findings things for me to do other than gardening; she has no sense of priority.
Anyway, a light has entered my darkness. I have made a new friend. It is a baby squirrel that introduced itself to me one morning by running up my leg (I had shorts on at the time). We now meet regularly when I feed him large nuts which he sits bedside me happily chomping away. He is obviously mad as he has no fear and is happy to come a find me wherever I am hiding in the garden. The photo shows my little squirrel chomping a nut.
My greatest fear is that Cruella will sniff him out. She is already sniffing the air and goes around saying fee fi fo fum. She may grind his bones to make her bread!