Chayotes, also known as “chokos” or “mirlitons,” are used in Latin American cuisine, but not so much in standard American fare.
Unless of course, you develop salicylate sensitivities like I have, and then you end up with this cucurbit as one of your staple foodstuffs!
With a quickly dwindling menu, mirlitons have been a godsend to me during a very difficult time.
While I can purchase this squash-relative locally, I’m growing it in my garden for the first time this year so that I can cultivate my own homegrown, organic supply.
My first step in growing chokos is to remove the seeds from ripe fruit for planting – I described this process here.
When I remove the seeds from these fruit, I tend to place them in a small jar of water to keep until I’m ready to do my potting.
Here’s what you’ll need if starting these indoors: containers with drainage, soil, a sunny window or a grow light.
After removing the chayote seeds from their fruits, you can pot them up.
I like to use biodegradable cow pots. These don’t break down as easy in my arid high desert climate as they might in my native Southeastern US, but I have found they work for me if I remove as much as possible of the pot before transplanting.
Here’s how I pot them:
1) Fill the cowpot about a third of the way with seed starting soil.
2.) Situate the seed in the pot. Fill with more soil so that the seed is covered up to where the stem starts emerging from the seed.
3.) Gently tap the pot on a hard surface to settle the soil in, then add more soil if needed.
4.) Water in.
Voila, you’re done!
After that, I place my starts next to sunny, south facing windows and in terrariums to keep them safe from my curious cats. (If you don’t have so much sun, you can use a grow light.)
My chokos are growing wildy, sending up vines, throwing out corkscrew tendrils, and looking happy.
I’ll be keeping them growing indoors until after my last spring frost.
I can’t wait for these to transition to garden life! In the meantime, how about a glimpse of some of my other gardening goodness?
Tips – How to Keep Track of Your Polyculture Garden Plantings
Garden News – Polyculture Garden in Late Summer
Winter Squash and Pumpkin Varieties – 2021
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