How to Grow Your Own Choko (Chayote)
Chokos (or chayote) are very prolific and easy to grow in home gardens.
This article will show you how to plant a choko, how to provide the plant support as it grows, and how to harvest and prepare the fruits.
How to Plant a Choko
First, you will need to buy a choko if you want to grow one. Select a healthy looking choko that is smooth and free of blemishes, dents or cuts. As a guide, a fresh choko is hard and green in colour, a rotten one will be soft and brown.
Do not plant the choko immediately. Instead, leave it in a dark place, like at the back of a closet with some ventilation or under the kitchen sink, until it sprouts.
- When it has sprouted to about 7 cm, bring it outside after the last frosts and find a sunny location.
- Dig a hole where the choko is to be planted.
- Add some organic fertilizer or manure to the soil.
- Place the choko in the soil with the sprout sticking above the soil. Do not cover the sprouting bit.
- Give it a good watering and leave it to grow.
- Remember to water it when the soil looks dry.
Give Your Choko Plant Support
The choko plant will need space to grow and a support system to climb onto, like along fences, trellises, pergolas or up a tree. Some of the vines will start to spread everywhere, including going over the fence to your neighbour's garden. You might want to train some of the vines and secure them to the fence or trellis to keep the vines under control.
How to Harvest Choko Fruits
Flowers will start to appear in summer and fruits will form. By autumn, the fruits should be big enough to harvest.
One choko plant is enough for the backyard, because one choko plant can produce several hundred fruits during the growing season. After the fruiting season, cut back the choko vines to four or five short vines to grow for the next season.
Chokos are best picked when they are young, because they are more tender and can be eaten with their skin on. The skin of the chokos tends to toughen as the fruits grow bigger. The skin releases sap when it is peeled, and this sap makes the chokos rather slippery to handle. In addition, when the sap sticks to the fingers, it is annoying and rather difficult to wash off.
Chokos can be eaten boiled, stir fried, baked, steamed and pickled.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Heaps of vines everywhere, but no fruit. How can I produce chokos?
If there are heaps of vines, you may have to give a dose of liquid fertiliser to maintain the growth and hopefully produce some chokos when the plant is ready.Helpful 21
Are choko vines deciduous?
Choko vines loose their leaves in winter, so they are considered deciduous.Helpful 19
Can chokos be grown in a container?
I have planted chokos in large containers but they struggled to bear fruits.Helpful 9
Can a choko be kept over winter without sprouting to be planted after frost has passed?
Yes, chokos can be kept in a cool, dark place over winter.Helpful 18
How long do chokos live?
In warm areas, choko plants can live for many years if they are well looked after. In areas with cold winter and frosts, most plants survive for only a few years.Helpful 18
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