THE CHAYOTES ARE GROWING LIKE CRAZY!

Ohmigosh, I’m so excited!

First, they were baby sprouts. Then, they started sending out feelers. Like these for example, on June 1st:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2013

My regular readers are familiar with my Chayote-growing obsession. Hopefully they will bear with me while I catch newcomers up to speed briefly.

The story goes:

I have a friend named Sandra here in Albuquerque. She makes this incredible breakfast for the Downtown Growers’ Market, called Farmer’s Frito Pie. It’s a layer of seasoned pinto beans in a to-go container, then with a layer of basmati rice, red chile calabacitas, a little cilantro, some olive oil and sunflower seeds, and a few Fritos to top it off.

It’s delish.

And nutritious. And vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.

Her calabacitas is my favorite part. Red chile, squash, corn, garlic, whatever other special ingredients she uses.

But Sandra didn’t like how the squash she used (which she got from local farmers) would fall apart in her stew. The flavor was great but it didn’t hold up well. She went looking for something sturdier, and found Chayote fruit, which is in the same gourd family as squash.

She told me she asked several of her farmer friends to grow Chayotes for her, but everyone said no. I’m not sure why. Maybe they weren’t familiar with them, maybe the fruits were too ugly. I’m not a farmer, but I was game to try growing them.

Here’s what Chayote fruit looks like (I got these at Pro Ranch Market on the west side, this photo was taken ages ago):

Chayotes - Liza's photos

I don’t care if they’re ugly – I sorta fell in love with these little buggers!

I bought and ate a bunch of these last year, and prepared them many ways. Sandra was right – they were sturdy. Which was great when I threw them on the grill. They were also great steamed, sauteed or baked in a casserole. They don’t have tons of flavor on their own, but they absorb whatever flavors you add which makes them awesome.

I wish my attempts at growing them had gone as well as my cooking experiments. They failed, and Sandra was out of luck, but I wasn’t going to give up easily.

And good thing, too. Because this season, things are going swimmingly.

They are turning out to be tenacious little growers, now that they have better conditions. Last year, I basically abandoned them to their own devices in the backyard wasteland. This year, they are in a container right by my back door, I’m hoping to train them to grow up rather than out. Here’s what they looked like yesterday (in the closest container):

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2013

They’re behaving like their squash cousins, only scrappier in my opinion. In the period between 6/5 and 6/9, look how the plant tightened its vice-like grip on the trellis:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2013

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2013

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2013

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2013

The “scroll really fast” feature doesn’t work that well when I don’t remember to take photos from the same angle each time. Anyway. You get the gist.

I think it’s safe to say the plant was not about to let the trellis go anywhere.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2013

Lockdown!

Chayote fruit: 1, Trellis: 0.

And just for good measure, the plant’s going to start the whole process over again with these feelers:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2013

Haha, I love it! I love watching them grow!

I had four Chayotes sprouted indoors that I planted in the container back in late March. None of them looked like they would survive, so a few weeks later, I added four more unsprouted fruits into the soil.

I got six sprouts total, and now they are all growing together like teenagers:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Great Chayote Growing Experiment of 2013

Up, up and away young Chayote plants!

It’s way too early to claim victory on Chayotes, but I like the way the future looks for our relationship.

It’s not too early to claim victory on my Bougainvillea, the next container over, the happiest plant of the bunch:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Bougainvillea by my back door

Ahhhh, beautiful Bougainvillea.

Advertisements