Sayote or chayote is a climbing plant that can rise as high as 12 meters. Its leaves are heart-shaped, 10-25 cm wide and with tendrils on the stem. The flowers are cream-colored or somewhat green that come out beneath a leaf or branch. If the plant is male, the flowers are in cluster; if female, the flowers come singly.
The fruit, light green, is elongated with one end narrower than the other with deep ridges lengthwise. The young leaves are eaten as vegetables (as salad), the roots grow like yam (ubi) and are also edible when cooked as sweets or fried like camote. If the harvest of sayote is abundant, it is cheaper to use it as food for pigs than the usual commercial feed. Sayote likes a cool climate with rains that are even during the year. It grows well in loose soil with fertilizer and likes rich volcanic soil.
- Plant the matured fruit. This is allowed to germinate, first in a nursery. Upon reaching about 30 cm, it can now be transferred to the field.
- Make holes about 30 cm wide and 3-5 meters apart from one another. Mix the soil with compost and put it back into the hole.
- One to three seedlings can be planted in each hole. Cover with soil. Always clear the surroundings of weeds – until about 2 meters away from the plants. When the plant spreads and fill the trellises, the growth of weeds will be controlled.
- Put trellises on every plant when these are about 30 cm high. Compost is the best fertilizer, but at 7-8 weeks, apply complete fertilizer before and after every rain.
If the sayote plant is planted for its fruits, do not prune the plant to get shoots; allow the big vine to spread so as to get the most sunshine and dew. But if the purpose is for shoots only, the plant gets pruned while the young leaves are gathered.
- Manually pick the fruits when the desired size is reached.
- Place the container of the harvested sayote in shade to keep them fresh for a longer time.
Pests and Diseases
Sayote is not beset with enemies of diseases like other plants. All it needs is care from weeds and adequate watering.