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National Trust launches ‘grow-along’ to help home gardeners grow their own plastic-free kitchen sponges - The National Trust

Lady in pink hat cutting green loofah (looks like an overblown courgette)
A volunteer harvesting loofahs at Knightshayes, Devon (image: National Trust / Liz Abdey)

The National Trust is launching a new ‘grow-along’ to help people grow their own loofahs, which can be used as a sustainable alternative to plastic washing up sponges.

In 2019, the team at Knightshayes in Devon grew their first crop of loofahs – the fruit of Luffa cylindrica, a vine in the cucumber family – and began using them to wash dishes as an alternative to disposable, plastic-based sponges. Extra loofahs were sold in the onsite shop.

Senior Gardener Bev Todd says: “The interest in the loofahs was extraordinary. A lot of people bought their own seeds and were excited to try growing loofahs themselves in 2020. We really wanted to help people succeed by sharing our top tips but, with most of the garden team furloughed last year, that wasn’t to be. This year, we’ll be planting loofahs again in the Victorian kitchen garden and we’re hoping to grow them bigger and better by using a warmer part of the nursery. We’re keen to help people grow along with us, so they can do their bit to reduce plastic waste and have some fun in the process.” Bev says even beginner gardeners can grow their own loofahs at home. “We have a lovely big Victorian kitchen garden but don’t be put off. You’ll need a supporting structure for the loofahs to clamber up but there’s nothing more complicated than that involved. They’re as easy to grow as courgettes.”

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