LEXINGTON, S.C. — Did you know luffa, that scrubber you use in the shower, is a vegetable?
Turns out you can grow it here in South Carolina, and you can even eat it when it's 4 - 6 inches long.
A Lexington woman Lisa Huntley, originally from the Pacific Coast, is showing Midlands residents how this versatile plant is defying the odds one male and female flower at a time.
"(Google) told me this is not the good place to grow it and I did it anyway," Huntley said.
Huntley is deemed Lexington's latest luffa lady.
She says in California she had a brown thumb, but here in the southeast, it's turned green. Huntley used a Dixie mix to grow her luffa seeds.
"Each one of these vines can grow up to an average of 30 feet long," Huntley said.
She explains that it's best for the plant to hang down on a structure or along a fence, to be away from houses and it needs a long dry season to grow. In this way, the luffa can grow about 2 - 3 inches daily. Huntley pulls the dead leaves off the plant and attends to it every day.
She started this gardening project as a way to ease her anxious mind after learning her youngest son's cancer diagnosis.
"We just found one as we're speaking. We just found the new (luffa) growing here," Huntley said. "My favorite part is the mornings, my coffee in the morning when I can go and my husband and I walk out here and we look for new luffa."
She has 30 luffas so far sprouting feet long and little creepy crawlers actually do good for the plant, like bees pollinating it.
"The plant actually produces natural sugar deposits in its leaves to attract the ants and you can see the little holes in them where the ants come and they eat," Huntley said.
To avoid being bitten, Huntley wears long sleeves when she prunes the plant daily.
She's sharing the seeds too, so everyone in the Midlands can grow their own luffa. This includes ladies like Linda Simmons.
"I like the whole process. I like the fact that you go from a seed to something that you can cook and something that you can share," Linda Simmons, seed recipient said.
Huntley tells News 19 each luffa produces about 300 seeds and you only need one for each plant, so why not give them away?
Once the luffa is ready, it'll turn brown with a hard cardboard-paper-like casing and you can pull the luffa out, take out the seeds, wash it and use it in your shower.
"The excitement. Nobody knows about luffa. If you look at how many women have luffa in every one of our showers and people, we think that it comes from the ocean and it doesn't. It's amazing," Huntley said.
Seeds are still available. If you want some, find Lisa on our Gandy's Garden Facebook page and message her.