You only need one luffa seed

You only need one luffa seed to feel like a master gardener.

Luffa, sometimes spelled loofah, actually refers to the fruit of the vine. Luffa aegyptiaca is a member of the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family. It can be eaten in the young fruit stage, or it can grow big, allowing an intricate network of fibers to form that are commonly used in the kitchen or bathroom as a scrubber sponge.

And you just thought it was a sponge from the ocean!…

This vine is particularly in love with the hot and humid regions of the Gulf Coast areas of Texas. It seems like the hotter it gets mid-August, the more the plant thrives (as long as you water it every once in a while).

The cool thing about luffa, is that it only takes one seed to look like this.

Yep. This was 1 volunteer seed that found its way to this raised garden bed. Luckily, I knew what it was, so I allowed it to stay and grow.

In the morning, the flowers open up to attract pollinators.

In the evenings, the flowers close up and actually fall off.

Do you see the flower buds on this one?

Luffa has a very long growing season. I typically plant mine in March and I do not usually see fruit until July. To save you from having to do the math, that is about 150 days from planting seeds!

Can you spot the long fruit hanging down?

I stumbled across luffa seeds some time ago (like 2004ish). At the time, it was not popular to plant and there was little information about how to germinate them. I did what any good gardener does, I threw it in some dirt, and holy Batman! I can now feed the entire town with the number of seeds I have collected over the years.

Baby luffa

A few things I have learned after growing them for several years:

*Growing luffa in the south is very different than growing in the north. We can basically ignore the plant and it thrives. No babying here.
*Direct sow is the best way to plant. I have yet to transplant luffa successfully.
*Due to the very long growing season, it is more difficult to grow up north.
*One vine will TAKE OVER. Be prepared. It is seriously like Jack and the Beanstalk.
*Bees LOVE the bright colored flowers on luffa.
*You must be patient and let the luffa dry on the vine. Do not pull it up and try to dry it inside. You will get a moldy mess.
*Luffa is pretty bug resistant (except ants seem to love the flowers) and the plant is very forgiving if you forget to water it.

So what do I do with all of the luffa that I grow? Make soap scrubbers of course! Read about that here–> Luffa Sponges

Tree sale and firewood

We braved the craziness of our local Master Gardener tree sale this weekend.  We were not prepared last year…the advertisements said come early to get the best selection. So we showed up at 8:45 (doors open at 9am) and o.m.g.  The line was wrapped around into the parking lot!  It was like a black Friday sale!  In preparation, we arrived at 8:15am and we were not the first in line.  (This is looking to the back of the line about 10 minutes before it opened up.)

Once we got in, it was a mad dash to make sure we got a Meyer Lemon tree this year!  Our county has citrus restrictions due to a disease that is running rampant, so we cannot transport any out of the county.  The master gardener sale has great quality trees!

We picked up another of each (that we bought last year)- lime, lemon, fig, pear, peach, and some more blackberries.

While we were at the tree sale, Wade had some friends over and they cut up firewood.  (Yes…wonderful friends to come over and do manual labor for some beer!)

And then we burned wood scraps (not freshly cut wood…it needs to cure about a year before it is good for burning).


Framing- Part 2

At the end of week 1 of framing, the house looked like this-


You can see it starting to take shape.  And to think the head guy told us they would have the roof on by Monday…

Since we are building ourselves, there will not be anyone coming behind to clean up.  The trades will do their job and leave.  It is up to us to clean up.  It is like cooking in the kitchen, it is easier to clean up as you go along rather than save the huge mess until the end.

The girls reluctantly helped.  We stacked all the long boards, burned all the small scraps, and swept the whole house. Daisy was so excited to get in on the action!

Every afternoon after work, we go out and pick up nails so they do not rust on the concrete since we will be staining.  Sometimes we miss a few…

Framing continued throughout the week.  They use long boards EVERYWHERE to square up the house (like across all the windows, doors, rooms, etc…), then add more structural support (like the osb on the outside) to keep it squared.  You can really see the progression below.







The end of week 2 of framing!

Framing- Part 1

Framing started this week for the most part.  After a small misunderstanding with the place we were getting our lumber, it was delivered the day before New Year’s Eve. The power pole was also delivered by the electric company.  It was supposed to be installed before the new year…that did not happen.

The guy that is in charge of framing came out and chalked the walls and his crew started on New Years Eve.

And then it rained.  And rained some more.

So, I sat impatiently in our super tiny apartment and designed all of the cabinets for our house.

The sun finally came out and Monday, the guys were back at work framing.

The girls had a day off from school so they spent most of the afternoon out there.  Sydney enjoyed taking panoramics of the guys working.  The girls were fascinated with them building a wall, and then standing it up and bolting it down.

Tuesday had more rain, but it was nice and sunny Wednesday so they guys finished up all of the walls.

More rain on Thursday, but by the end of the day on Friday, the ceiling construction was mostly complete.

On a side note…this water had been sitting in this spot for over a month.  It needed a place to go so I dug out a trench leading to the ditch so it would finally drain!

By the end of the day Saturday, they had the side porch ceiling finished and the dormer support finished.

This wraps up the first week of framing.  Still no electricity.

Scoring to look like tile


Our foundation has been curing for 16 days now.  Something we had planned on doing just after the pour (but got delayed due to life moving on…) was to score the concrete to look like tiles and then stain it.  After discussing the options, we almost did not go through with this.  Everything we read said to use a straight line and a circle saw for making score marks in the concrete.  Well…the thought of being on my hands and knees for hours…and the uncertainty of what it would look like…had us convinced that it would look ok to not be scored.

I spent Friday working in my office and the more I thought about it, the more I decided I wanted to score it.  Luckily, I have an uncle that has built a few houses and done much of the work himself, so I messaged him and he told me to rent a walk behind saw to do it.  We have a Home Depot sort of close (we only have to pass 2 other HD to get to this one) that rents just about everything, including walk behind cement saws for $70 for 24 hours.  We decided to get the saw first thing in the morning, so that evening Wade and I made grid marks along the perimeter of the foundation.  Then we ran out of daylight.

Morning came and it was go time!  We were at HD at 7am to pick up the saw.  The girls had to help because there was no way to chalk the foundation with just 2 people.  The girls helped stretch the line and then walked along snapping it to make the VERY faint marks.

We made the lines on a diagonal spacing them 3 feet apart (roughly a 2 ft square).  Once we finished, Wade and I agreed we wanted bigger tiles, so we skipped every other line, making the diagonal 6 feet (roughly a 4 ft square).  Pythagorean theorem at work!  I decided to cut the first set of lines before drawing the cross lines so I did not erase them as I worked.

(Yes it was VERY hard to see the lines!!!)

Using the saw was not difficult, rather the hardest part was making sure the heavy saw stayed straight.

What I did not realize was that the saw blade (that was on it when we got it) was so worn, it was simply leaving a black mark!  Seriously!?!?!  Off I went back to Home Depot to buy a new blade (for $70).

***Side note- the saw rental does not normally come with a blade.  This was left on from the previous user.  The guy warned us when we picked it up that we might need a new blade.  However, when we made the first line, it worked…barely…but it worked.  That is why I kept going after the first line because it all looked the same even though it was not scoring.

I should have known I was not doing anything the first time, given this time there was dust flying everywhere as it actually scored the concrete!!!  It looked awesome!!!

With something so big, I doubt a straight edge would have worked at all.  Looking down the lines, you can see how wobbly they are, but when you stand above them you cannot tell.  I think once we get the walls up, it will be even better.

The cross lines took much less time since we actually knew what we were doing.  I would say the whole thing took about 4 hours…maybe less.  We were out there all day because it was a learning process (including the practice run making black lines, then an additional trip to Home Depot for a new blade).

Total cost for the cement saw rental and a new blade= $150 and we have 4 ft tiles throughout the whole house.  SCORE!! (get it…haha…)