One of the best parts about DIY is that you are always learning something new. One little tidbit I just learned is that you can grow loofah right in your backyard. I never knew those hard spongy things you use as a body scrub were actually plants, let alone something you could grow yourself.
Local resident Mellenie Runion grows and sells loofah as part of her business, Truly-Life Eco-Friendly Gifts. At the recomendation of a friend, I stopped by her house over the weekend to see what growing loofah was all about.
While the recent cold snap has been harsh on the loofah plants, there were still a few holding strong on the vines. They grow in full sun and need supports like the ones you would have for tomatoes. Next year Mellenie plans to build a small structure to better support the plants.
After the loofah have grown (they look a lot like cucumbers), you simply remove from the vine, peel off the green exterior, and let them dry out. Mellenie thickly slices the loofah with a regular kitchen knife, it is a fruit after all.
Here, she points out all the nooks and crannies and even a few remaining seeds.
You can use the loofah as a body scrub and to wash dishes in your sink. Some people eat the loofah fruit — they are often referred to as “Chinese Okra” and should be eaten before they become mature and dried out. I think I’ll stick to using as a sponge.
In addition to the home-grown loofah, Mellenie makes her own eco-friendly soap with all-natural plant oils. For scented soaps, she adds lavender fresh from her garden or dried in winter months. Here the hardened soap is sliced into individual bars, ready for packaging and sale.
She sells a variety of homemade soaps and lotions at the Old Town Farmer’s Market and through her website. Each one is delicately and neatly packaged.
On the day I visited, she was assembling a large order for a very special local business woman who is giving the soaps to clients as holiday gifts — let’s just say if you bought or sold a house recently in Del Ray, you may be getting one of these…
Mellenie started growing loofah and making soaps a couple of years ago as a side project. Now it’s a full-time job. All soaps are made and assembled in her charming Del Ray bungalow. For more about her products, check out her website.
Posted by Katie