I'm sharing today, my experiences in growing Ridged Luffa Gourd, known as Petola (in Malay). This common veggie can be found in the market whole year round. A popular veggie that is great in stir-fries, soups and the skin can be mashed and cooked in a sambal dish, as I was told by an Indian friend.
This is the female flower. It is distinguished from the male flower by the little gourd that is attached to the flower.
These are the male flowers, which grow in clusters. Unlike the flowers of the bitter gourds which bloom in the morning, these luffa flowers, both the female and male flowers, bloom in the evening.
I pollinated the above female gourd manually, and it has grown in size, in just two days after the pollination. Notice the drying male flower still attached at the end of the female gourd. I've left it there when I pollinated the flowers, but the petals of the female flower has dried and fallen off.
If it is a successful pollination, the gourd would remain green and it will grow in size in a day or two. On the other hand, if the gourd starts to turn yellow, than the pollination is not successful or no pollination has occur. And I did have a few unsuccessful ones!
The first gourd, rather odd-shaped!
The second one, this looks much better! Length 15inches at time of harvest.
I harvested both the luffa gourds yesterday, the one on top, at 14 days from date of pollination. The odd-shaped one, 20 days from date of pollination, as I was unsure whether to harvest this earlier because of its shape and size, a good thing it was still tender.
When to harvest the gourds? This is the question that I have been asking myself. Should I harvest now or should I wait? This is not the first time I've grown these gourds. The first time was a few months ago. I was pretty excited when there are two lovely long gourds growing really well. My mistake was, I allow them to grow for about 3 weeks, thinking that they would be bigger and juicier! They did grow bigger, but not any juicier, only drier! And when I harvested the gourds, they have turned fibrous and hard. I did not expect the gourds to be old and hard after only three weeks! So now, I know that the best time to harvest the gourds would be at about 12-14 days from date of pollination. I would not go beyond 14 days! The best time would be about 12 days when they are young and tender, which is what you are looking for.
Look at the tender luffa, simply lovely! I'm pretty happy with this round of harvest, though it is only two gourds. From garden to table, what a good feeling!
Harvest of Bayam (Chinese Spinach,on the left), and Pak Choy (on the right), more than a week ago.
Happy Gardening !