|Scientific Name : Luffa Acutangula Roxb.|
|Family : Cucurbitaceae|
|Colour : Dark Green|
|Common names : Angled Loofah, Petula, towel gourd, dish-cloth gourd, ridged gourd, silk gourd|
|Best Season : Throughout the year|
|Nutritional Value : 1.09 g protein, 17 mg calcium,1.6 mg iron, 5.6 lU vitamin A, 7 mg vitamin C per 100 g serving.|
A warm season plant, Angled loofah is a fast growing annual climbing vine, native to India. Nutritive value of this vegetable is low. But even then, consumption-wise it is a popular vegetable.
The plant has fast climbing wines which grow up to a considerable height, with leaves which are lobed severally. The plant produces flowers, both male and female and the male flowers are large, bright yellow in colour and are found in clusters whereas the female flowers are few in number and stand alone. Fruits are tubular 4-6 inches long, with ten elevated angular ridges with a rough surface and spongy flesh inside.Propagation and Planting :
This warm season plant is sensitive to frost. It yields well in warm climates. The plant prefers deep well drained sandy loam soils, rich in organic matter with a pH ranging between 6.5 to 7.5. But it can also be grown on any good soil. The soil may be prepared well by adding organic matter or animal manure a few weeks before planting.
Planting can be propagated by direct seeding or transplanting. The seeds should be planted about 1-2 inch deep in the soil. Transplants can be done when 2-3 leaves develop and should be done in such a way as to avoid disturbance to the root system. The plants require a lot of space to grow and should be placed at a distance of 3 to 4 feet apart in rows. Place poles of any wood or bamboo 2m high as support and give wire or twine supports in rows. The plant requires only little water but regular watering is essential. Too much water during flowering and fruition is harmful to the plant.
Flowering and fruition will occur around 6 weeks after sowing. Fruits are picked when they are dark green at the tender stage, before the angular ridges outside harden and fibrous network develops inside. Once mature, they become bitter and inedible. While cooking, ridges of the loofah can be peeled off thinly but the remaining portion with skin is edible.Problems and Care :
Prune all side shoots on the main stem till about 1 metre from the ground. Less the number of fruits, more will be the size of the fruit.
Angled loofah is susceptible to many diseases and insect pests, such as nematodes, viruses, powdery mildew, leaf miners and spider mites. The major insect pests are fruit flies and aphids. Powdery mildew can be controlled by applying benomyl or sulfur dust. Fruit flies can be sprayed with protein hydrolysate mixed with insecticide. Leaf feeding beetles can be controlled by spraying with carbaryl of endosulfan. The insects can also be controlled by wrapping fruits with newspapers, when they are about a few centimetres long.
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