Cee Gwa (Chinese Okra Smooth)
Latin Name: L. aegyptiaca
Item #: 422H
CHINESE OKRA Cee Gwa (Luffa Gourd)
250 seeds per oz/28 g
Luffa acutangula. Cee Gwa is known as okra only because its long ridged, green fruit look like okra. Actually, it is a tropical gourd that belongs to the cucumber family - it is perhaps the most multi-faceted vegetable grown in Asia. All parts of the plant, except the root, are suited for either cooking, eating or household use. Use the leaves in fresh salads or cook them as greens. Luffa flowers may be dipped in butter and sauteed, the younger 4-5 in/10-13 cm fruits are cooked like zucchini and the seed may be roasted and salted.
CULTURE: Sow the seeds indoors from Apr. 1st. to June 1st. for July or October harvest. Scratch the seed surface lightly to help it absorb water. Plant seed 0.5 in/13 mm deep in peat pots. Seeds should germinate in 10-15 days at 70°F/21°C soil temperatures. Set transplanted pots about 2 ft/61 cm apart about June 5th (as soon as night temperatures are moderate). Cee Gwa is a determined rapid climber, so it is wise to plant it next to a fence or trellis. Make sure you choose rich, moist soil in a sunny location as Cee Gwa thrives in warm weather. The first fruit appear about 3 months after sowing. Place straw at the base of the plant to prevent the lower fruit from rotting. Each vine should produce about 20-25 fruit.
HARVEST: Cee Gwa is harvested just like zucchini when they are 4-8 in/10-20 cm long. The outer rind or skin is removed, just like a cucumber. The skinned fruit is usually cut into 2 in/5 cm triangular chunks and used for a wide range of raw, cooked or pickled recipes. Excellent stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, snow peas and bamboo shoots. Longer, over mature fruit are too bitter and fibrous to eat, but they make high quality pot scrubbers. At this point (12-24 in/30.5-61 cm) the skin turns brown. To dry, place the fruit on straw in the sun for a few days, then open the large end of the gourd and shake out the seeds. Soak the spongy interiors in water until the outer skin has deteriorated, then dry and use.