Chayote is a perennial vine that produces pear-shaped, pumpkin-like fruit. Chayote is easy to grow in most environments, but thrives in tropical climates. To get started, plant pumpkin sprouts at the end of the rainy season. After sprouting, take them to a bright spot that gets plenty of outdoor sun exposure. Take care not to let the soil dry out and prepare a stake to support the vines. Chayote will begin to bear fruit after the age of 4 months and you can harvest the fruit of the hard work all this time.
Part 1 of 3: Making Chayote Sprouts
Step 1. Make sprouts from healthy, ripe fruit
Choose fruit that is firm, green, and smooth. Pumpkins should be free of wrinkles, dents, or blemishes. Larger, ripe fruit is the best choice because small, immature fruit will simply rot, rather than sprout.
You can find chayote fruit easily at the nearest vegetable stall or department store. Pumpkin seeds are difficult to separate from the flesh and are usually not sold separately, but you may be able to purchase them online
Step 2. Place the fruit sideways in a container filled with soil
Fill a 4 liter container with ready-to-plant soil, then make a small hole in the center to place the chayote. Position the pumpkin at an angle with the bottom of the fruit above the ground and at a 45° angle, while the stem is buried in the soil. Bury the chayote, but make sure the bottom edge of the pumpkin is still visible above the surface.
Step 3. Place the container in a warm and dry place
Find a dark, well-ventilated place to store the pumpkins until they germinate. If possible, keep the temperature between 27 and 29 °C. Water occasionally or when the soil is completely dry. Shoots will appear about 1 month later.
A dry pantry, under the sink, or a cupboard with the door open are great places to make chayote sprouts
Part 2 of 3: Planting Siamese Pumpkin Saplings
Step 1. Plant chayote saplings
Once the pumpkin shoots have grown to 5-7 cm long and have 3 to 4 pairs of leaves, the saplings are ready to be moved outside. The best planting time is at the end of the rainy season.
Step 2. Choose a bright, spacious spot in the garden
Chayote needs a lot of sun. Although it can grow in partial shade, less sun exposure will make the fruit grow smaller. Chayote plants can grow very quickly. So, make sure you give ample space to facilitate it.
- Once the roots mature, the parenial chayote can grow to about 10 meters in just one season!
- If you live in a hot, arid climate, protect your plants from the heat of the day and dry winds. Find a spot in the yard that gets a lot of sun in the morning, but is shady in the afternoon when the sun is hotter.
Step 3. Fertilize the planting area
Hoe the soil 1.25 x 1.25 meters wide with a plow or hoe. Mix 9 kg of manure with soil. If the soil is poorly draining, such as containing heavy clay, add mature, well-drained compost to increase drainage and aeration.
Step 4. Transfer the chayote sprouts
Dig a hole 10 to 15 cm deep. Remove the sprouted fruit from the container and bury it in the hole. Bury the chayote with soil, but leave the sprouts exposed above the soil surface.
Water the pumpkin well after transplanting
Part 3 of 3: Caring for Chayote
Step 1. Prepare a bamboo pole or fence to support the chayote
When mature, chayote will grow into a heavy vine. Install a strong turret or other frame next to the sprout and drive it deep into the soil so it doesn't fall over as the plant grows heavier.
- You can also plant pumpkins next to a sturdy fence to support them.
- Do not use metal supports as metal can get very hot and damage the vines.
Step 2. Do not let the soil dry out
If it rains infrequently, keep the soil from drying out by watering it regularly. If the plant does not get an adequate supply of water, the resulting fruit will be stringy. If it rains often, add compost every month so that the top layer of soil doesn't erode.
Step 3. Prop up the vines to grow upwards
The chayote will start to grow wildly. So you must help the vines to propagate on the turret or fence. Loosely loop the pumpkin vines around the turret at regular intervals to prevent them from growing haphazardly everywhere.
Step 4. Harvest the first generation of chayote
After 120-150 days (about 4-5 months later), the plant will begin to flower and produce fruit. Cut the pumpkin with a knife or cuttings before the skin becomes very hard. The length of the mature fruit is about 10-15 cm.
- Don't let the fruit touch the ground as the pumpkin will split open and begin to germinate.
- You can process chayote into a variety of dishes such as stir-fry, tamarind vegetables, lodeh vegetables, lalap, and lotek.
Step 5. Cut the chayote vines and add a thick layer of mulch before wintering
In temperate climates, only cut the plant into three or four short shoots after the fruiting season. If you live in an area with a climate that is prone to snow, cut the plant just above the soil level. Cover the planting area with 25 to 40 cm thick mulch or pine straw to protect the roots during the winter.