The countdown to chayote planting is underway. The City College construction class kindly lowered the arbor that last month's class built. It was going to be a bit tall for harvesting the chayotes. Robert, the course instructor, said lowering it was good experience for the class. A client might request that. (See photo of the arbor before lowering in my January 19th post.)
Next step is to mount some hardware cloth on two sides of the arbor for the plants to climb. They attach by tendrils, so can use both the vertical and the horizontal wires. Then we need to take out another section of fence. The one on the west is only about 6 feet from the arbor. Too close for comfort, since the chayote will reach out in all directions. We are going to try to keep it on the trellis. A brave effort, considering what the plant wants to do is be 30 feet tall and wide.
Finally, the 4 planted chayotes are still in the greenhouse. One has sprouted nice green leaves. I am hoping for another to sprout, since the plants need 2 in order to enhance pollination. As my Guatemalan friend Maria-Marta said, it needs a "novia."
My cousin in Indiana asks me if she could grow chayote if she started it very early. I'm afraid not. It is a tropical perennial plant. It only flowers when the days get short in late fall. This is because it is adapted to short tropical days. In a place with a cold winter, it would freeze shortly after it began to bloom, thereby never making any fruit. And, although the young stem tips and leaves are edible, and would be produced in summer, I'm not sure the plant is worth growing just for them.
Well, here in San Francisco, where eggplants and melons are rarely satisfactory, and tomatoes are borderline, we like to fee lucky to be able to grow something that doesn't do well elsewhere.
I'll send photos of the chayote soon.