Chayote, Sechium edule, also called Pipinola and Choko is an outstanding perennial vegetable and squash relative. Chayote bears pear shaped fruits that are eaten raw or cooked. But the tuber, seeds, and young stem and leaves are all edible too! Chayote grows as a vigorous vine, needs plenty of space and can become really expansive.
Chayote may be grown from whole fruits planted horizontal with a third of the fruit exposed at the top. Or grown from older stem cuttings at least 8 inches long.
Chayote loves full sun and grows so fast that weeds cannot even compete! Mulch heavily where you plant your fruit and make sure there is plenty of compost or other foods for the vine as it is a heavy feeder. Now just enjoy watching the speed of its growth! I grow mine on trellis to maintain its growth so it doesn’t go wild around the yard.
Fruits are eaten like zucchini or potatoes, harvest fruits when they are immature at 4-6 inches long to avoid woodiness in the skin, or harvest when mature and use like a potato. The seed is edible and delicious and the skin may be eaten on younger fruits and removed for older fruits.
Young tender leaves and shoots are eaten up to 10 inches long and are cooked; however, remove tendrils, as they are fibrous.
The tuber of the plant is used exactly like a potato.
Where to obtain planting materials
You could ask someone you know who is growing it for a fruit or cutting. You could buy one from the farmers market and plant that. Or you could find a wild vine and pick off a sprouted fruit.
I’ve had Chayote growing in my garden for over half a year and it escaped into some undeveloped part of the yard and climbed up a tree and was going everywhere. I decided to cut it back and tame it so I haven’t gotten any fruit yet, although it has flowered, I just cut it back before I could harvest anything. But where it is planted, I now know its not enough space and could potentially get out of hand again, so I decided to make a new area where I could let it have a large space to climb.
So I made this new trellis, went out to this massive vine in my neighborhood grabbed a sprouting fruit, took it home and planted it, within two weeks it had grown over 4 feet! Around my new trellis I’m going to have sweet potato ground cover, and on the other edge is a row of privacy palms, ti, some lemongrass, bamboo, a native palm, pigeon pea, roselle, and cassava.