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My Home grown natural lufa sponges can be purchased at http://www.aquaponiclynx.com/
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The ants generally don't seem to hurt the plants through if there is a dry lufa with a break in the skin, the ants will nest in it so be careful when breaking open dry lufa. I'm just careful around the plants so as not to get bit by the ants (I have similar issues with the big ants on the red noodle beans.)
I also see some leaf miners but they don't seem to be setting the plants back too much.
Some lufa is in the ground with drip irritation and compost and other vines were in gravel beds. My vines got really big and the two gravel beds with lufa growing from them are completely full of lufa roots. I think I will need to add some more worms to them to help allow other plants to get going in them as the lufa die back with the cold.
Hey TC. Excellent job with the lufa! I like the method you show in your video for seed removal, pretty slick! I grow a few lufa plants each year but my results are not as impressive as yours! Did you grow the lufa in an AP system? Were they rooted in a gravel bed? Raft? Also, I always have trouble with carpenter/bull ants. They are attracted to the blooms and are constantly all over the lufa plants. Late this summer when it was too hot for the blooms to set the ants disappeared. A couple of weeks ago when it cooled off the lufa plants started blooming again the ants showed up immediately. Another pest I have had trouble with every year are the leaf miners. They just love the lufa leaves. I have those sticky fly strips hanging around the plants and that really helps.
Did you have any of those issues?
Nope, sorry, the fibers won't last very long constantly saturated in nitrogen rich water. If you use lufa as a bath sponge or dish sponge you need to let it dry out regularly (like daily) to keep them around long.
I once tried putting a cut of lufa down into my NFT pipe to start some seeds and the bottom of it where it stayed constantly wet was starting to rot away in a week.
I think it would be good fiber mixed into potting soil though since it does break down.
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