Balcony Gardening

I just wanted to show off really quickly how good a week of humidity has been for my tropical Luffa squash.

These three pictures were taken within a week. I haven't actually hit 7 days yet! The Luffa squash is absolutely loving it!

Luffa squash are actually pretty neat. It's a tropical vine from the cucumber family, and produces squash that are edible while they're still small, under 12cm. Once they get bigger though, they get too fibrous to eat. Once that happens, you wait until they start to feel lighter on the vine, then pick it and bang it on a concrete floor or stone. This loosens up the seeds inside, and provide you with a wack of possible luffa vines for next year.

(please save your seeds! It's a cheap way to select the best of your garden for preservation)

Once the seeds are loose, you cut off the end to shake them out, and peel off the skin. A quick rinse to remove the remaining flesh of the luffa, and you lie it to dry in the sun. When it's fully dry, you can cut it into inch rounds and use them as you would a sponge.

I've never gotten this far with a Luffa, because this is my first year growing them. It's been a year with challanges; I've never been great raising plants from seed, and these guys really needed a lot of attention. Out of the 12 that sprouted, only 5 survived to planting time. Once transplanted, only 2 did really well, though 4 technically are alive right now.

I'm lucky enough to live on the 25th floor of an east facing apartment in Toronto, which means I don't have to worry too much about frost, and the concrete of the building keeps my plants quite warm. We only really get morning sun, but it's enough to warm everything up, and I've never had a non-productive year living here. Sometimes the squash threatens to take over the balcony, some years the tomatoes take over, and some years my lettuce bed goes crazy. This year, it looks like the Meyer Lemon is winning for productivity.

I could stand over this tree and breath in the smell of the blossoms till bed time. It's intoxicating! Once the temp goes below 12C, I'll disconnect it from the Gravity Fed Watering System and bring it inside. Until then, I'll let it go haywire. It seems quite happy in its little corner.


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