Aaaaand, they’re sorta rotting, too.
Those are not good-looking fruits.
For those of you who may be newcomers, Chayote is a squash-like fruit that is loaded with Vitamin C. They’re native to Mexico, where they grow much like squash or cucumbers do – on vines. Their taste is a little bland (unless you saute them with butter – then they taste like butter), but they are sturdy, which makes them great for calabacitas or stew.
You can’t buy Chayote seeds because they must be inside the fruit in order to germinate. Putting the fruit on a sunny windowsill is a good way to get them to sprout. Once the sprout is about six inches long or so, they can be planted outside. (Some people say you should put the fruit in a dark location to force the sprouting, but I like the sunny windowsill.)
Last year was my first attempt to grow Chayote, and my experiment failed. That was mainly because I designated them to the backyard wasteland. I associate Mexico with drought conditions, and that’s my bad. I forgot about humidity. The Chayotes may eventually be drought tolerant, but at least initially, they need more water than I gave them last summer.
This spring, I plan on planting at least some of the Chayotes in containers by my back door. I’ll trellis them so they grow up instead of out. The container growing may constrict some fruit production, but I’m ok with that because I don’t need 80+ fruits that a typical plant can produce.
Of the four Chayotes that I had on my windowsill, one rotted completely and was discarded. The remaining three have bad skin and some rotten spots. Two of those three have sprouted despite the appearance of the main fruit. The third has done nothing.
Whether or not a Chayote sprouts is based on the age and size of the fruit. Typically, I try to find the biggest ones I can, because hopefully those are the oldest. I can find Chayote fruit here in Albuquerque at Pro’s Ranch Market, and sometimes at Smith’s Groceries. (I’m pretty sure I’ll never see them at Whole Foods because they are probably loaded with pesticides.)
The plan moving forward is to go buy some more fruit, in case the current ones give way to rotting. Since it’s still so early in the year, I’d like to get several sprouting so I have time to make up for any losses I suffer with them. Chayote growing seasons are long – about 150 days – hence my early start this season.
If you or someone you know has successfully grown Chayote, I’d love to hear the secrets of success. Or if you decide to grow Chayote for the first time this year, maybe we can create a support group. Let me know what you think about these ugly fruits!