Cultivating Chayote(Chouchou)

Choosing the Right Location

Chayote, a sprawling vine, needs lots of space to grow. A trellis or support can prevent uncontrolled spreading. The plant thrives in sunlight for 6 to 8 hours and prefers rich, well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Enrich nutrient-poor or poorly draining soil with organic compost or aged manure before planting. In hot climates, consider a location with afternoon shade and wind protection.

Planting Chayote: When and How

Most gardeners prefer planting whole chayote squash bought from stores. Ensure the fruit is blemish-free. Plant outdoors 3 to 4 weeks post the last frost date, ensuring the soil temperature is at least 65°F. Dig a 4 to 6-inch deep hole, plant the chayote at a 45-degree angle with the top stem at the soil line. Avoid deep burial as it can cause rot. For larger yields, space the plants at least 10 feet apart.

Cultivating Chayote(Chouchou)

Caring for Your Chayote Plant

Chayote plants are easy to maintain in a long growing season. Install a trellis at planting time to avoid disturbing tender vines later. The plant needs 6 to 8 hours of bright light daily and can tolerate partial shade. It prefers rich, well-draining soil. Water the soil thoroughly at planting and wait for the sprout to emerge before watering again. During the growing season, water deeply every 10 to 14 days.

Fertilizing Your Chayote Plant

Chayote doesn’t require much fertilizer. Excessive nitrogen can reduce fruit yield. Use a balanced or low-nitrogen fertilizer every 6 to 7 weeks for a good harvest.

Pruning and Harvesting Your Chayote

Once the vine develops 3 to 4 sets of true leaves, pinch off the top tip to encourage branching. Prune as needed throughout the growing season. Harvest chayote in late summer when the fruit is pale green, 4 to 6 inches long, and the skin is soft. Overripe chayote develops hard skin or wrinkles and is less palatable.

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