This is my first year successfully growing chayote squash and I’m thrilled to have them finally making their way into the kitchen.
I think it’s quite unfortunate that they’re called “squash,” since they taste nothing like a squash. Chayote taste more like a crisp cucumber mixed with a hint of pear and fresh green beans. Juicy and refreshing – more like eating a mild fruit than eating any other squash.
This is understandable, since they’re in the same family as melons and cucumbers. Some have called chayote squash “vegetable pears,” which isn’t a bad nickname. They’d certainly fit much better in a fruit salad than zucchini would.
Growing chayote isn’t hard if you have a long enough warm season (I’ve read 150 days). I planted mine in March at the base of a pomegranate tree off the back porch.
They’ve now eaten the tree.
This is fine, because by the time they climbed over the top of that pomegranate, I already knew it wasn’t going to produce fruit this year. The blooms had dropped, so I went “forget it! Thou art a chayote trellis, non-bearing knave!”
Rachel is coming up with chayote recipe ideas already and we’ve only harvested two thus far.
More are coming, though:
Unlike their squash cousins, chayote don’t produce seeds. Instead, they entire fruit surrounds a single embryo in the middle. To grow a new vine, you need to plant the fruit itself. I buried mine half-way in the ground and they did fine.
These chayote originally came from my friend Joe Pierce of cob oven fame. Since frost will take a chayote squash vine to the ground, he puts some of the final fruits of fall on the porch and lets them sit until spring when they can be planted out again. They’ll grow big crazy vines right out of the end of the fruit… very strange.
Speaking of Joe, when I was filming the cob oven video, he also did a quick demonstration of a homemade pump drill / bow drill firestarter – I just posted the video on my channel a couple of days ago:
Back to chayote.
Growing chayote squash as a perennial is possible in warmer areas of the state, and may even be possible up here in North Florida; however, this is my first year of successful chayote growing so I’m not sure if the vines will come back or not. They don’t start setting fruit until the fall, so if you live too far north (say, past Georgia) it may be impossible to get a good yield. (Let me know if you’ve heard differently or if you have luck – I always love to hear gardening stories.)
Mother Earth News did a good article on chayote a few decades back and the link is here. Lots more info worth checking out. It has the potential to be a remarkably productive plant – I’ve heard of folks around here getting close to a hundred fruits and having the vines climb way up into the oaks.
Though I’ll bet I’m the only one growing them on a pomegranate tree.