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Old March 7, 2018   #18
Zeedman
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Wisconsin
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Fig leaf gourd is a.k.a. Shark Fin Melon, there are some interesting recipes under that name. Although the squash did not mature here, I did get several large immature squash, and was able to try one of the shark fin melon soups... it was quite good. Not good enough for me to grow it again, though; there are tons of things that would make better use of such a large space. I probably got more use out of the vine tips, which while slightly bitter, were not bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by habitat_gardener View Post
Zeedman, I'm curious why chayote was the most interesting and rewarding vegetable you've ever grown.
To start with, just the novelty. I was living in San Jose at the time, my starts came from a Bay area Master Gardener, who was growing a rather spiny - but large fruited - type. As I recall, I had a guide to growing chayote at the time (I think it was from UC Davis) which was helpful. It was unusual to plant the whole fruit (I started the first two as transplants) and watch the vines emerge vigorously from below. The site took special preparation; I erected a large horizontal trellis (about 10' X 30') 6 feet above the ground, with one plant on each end, and strings to get the first shoots started upwards. The vines spread quickly & completely covered the trellis, we put lawn chairs underneath to enjoy the shade.

Blooming came very late in the summer, when the growth was dense - and the entire plant broke into bloom at once. The squash followed, hanging down below the trellis as they grew larger - really easy to find & pick from below. That first year we "only" had about 25 squashes per plant... and we let them get much larger than market chayote. They were much sweeter too, almost melon-like; we cooked a lot of them peeled & cubed as a vegetable, much more delicious than zucchini.

Part of the novelty was that chayote is a perennial squash - and it gets stronger in successive seasons. The second year the vines were much more vigorous... we had to extend the trellis width to 20', the vines still overran it & leaped the fence onto the neighbor's shrubbery (they let them grow when I told them they would be getting a lot of squash). We had over 100 squash that year, and were giving them away like zucchini. In Year 3 (the last year before we moved to San Diego), we had over 150 squash from the two plants! The sight of all those squashes hanging below the trellis was incredible.

The young shoots in Spring, and the roots (if you choose to dig them) are also edible. We tried the shoots (which were good), but never wanted to risk disturbing the roots.

The vines, once started, needed very little care (except to turn them back once they reached the edge of the trellis), and had no problems with bugs or diseases. Last year was a good one here for cucuzzi, and the vines, when loaded, were an impressive sight... but they are nowhere as rewarding, or as versatile, as chayote. It would take a heated hoop house here to extend the season enough to grow chayote, but I have been seriously considering it. I doubt the roots would survive the long dormancy of our winters, though.

Last edited by Zeedman; March 7, 2018 at 01:56 AM.
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