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Mirliton squash vines from Louisiana  RSS feed

 
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I can not find any place reasonable in price to purchase the
Mirliton squash or vines. I've read you CAN NOT grow from seed, you have to let squash start to sprout and then plant the entire squash. But i have found seeds to buy. HELP....
CAN YOU GROW FROM DRIED SEEDS OR NOT?
WHERE CAN I BUY THE MIRLITON SQUASH OR PLANTS ONLINE
I LIVE IN FLORIDA.
 
garden master
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Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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Welcome to Permies!

I do not know where to find your squash online. However, this article says that your squash is also known as Chayote Squash. Perhaps with the new name, you can find some at one of the international food grocery stores near you.

Good luck!
 
master pollinator
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Might be worth checking the mercados near where you live. Good chance they will have some in the produce section.
 
gardener
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I agree, if you are in Florida, hit the grocery stores that cater to Hispanics, chayote is a normal thing for them to carry. You might call the grocery stores in your area and ask if they carry chayote, they will know it by that name, not by Mirliton squash. I have never heard of them being hard to grow from seed, {edit: Bryant Redhawk is wiser than me!}  I do know they make awesome vines!
:D
Staff note (Pearl Sutton):

Lance Hill, who posts below, says the type of chayote we are saying to get will not work in the US. Keep reading if you want to grow them, this turns out to be a more complex question than we all expected.

 
gardener
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Chayote seeds can’t be dried and saved for planting: It germinates only inside the fruit, and will often do so while still on the vine, so the seed must be planted with its fleshy “shell” intact.
The "vegetable pear" grower’s first step is to locate a market (try an area with a large Spanish-speaking population) where chayote is sold in late fall.
(It doesn’t matter if the fruit has been in cold storage and plastic-wrapped.) Buy several and put them in a dark, cool (not frosty) place and wait.
The seed sprout will emerge and lengthen in the darkness.
By February it should be approximately six inches long.

Then, if your area, like most parts of North America, isn’t yet frost-free, put the sprouted chayote in a pot with the tip of the new growth just peeping out of the soil.
Set it in a sunny window, keep it watered, and plant it outdoors once the weather is warm enough.
 
Alice Knutson
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Thanks everyone for suggestions.
 
pollinator
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Great project - be sure to come back and let us know how it does for you!
 
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You are right: imported mirlitons will not grow in our climate and can potentially compromise our own heirloom varieties.  But good news: go to www.mirliton.org for the nation's only free online market for locally-grown Louisiana heirloom mirlitons.  It also has all the information you need for preserving this endangered Louisiana variety.
 
pollinator
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It's not anywhere near endangered in Hawaii, although the exact variety that grows in Louisiana may or may not be prevalent here. I have four varieties growing on my farm....a green smooth roundish one, a green smooth pear shaped one, a semi prickly green one that is a little fluted and pear shaped,  and a white smooth one shaped exactly like the last. I started out with an all prickly one but eliminated it once I discovered the safer ones to handle.

Around here they are called pipinola. Most folks don't eat them because they have acquired the stigma of being pig food. I find that they are fine added to soups, stews, and stir fries. And they make an excellent mock apple pie. Apples are horrendously expensive here, so all my apple pies are made using pipinola. They are also good for making refrigerator pickles. Since I grow close to a hundred vines, perhaps more, their main use on my farm is as livestock feed.

By the way, the tender last 6 inches of the vines are also used as food here. They are a nice green. I prefer them with a tomato onion sauce or make a fish tomato stew with them.

Because of my long growing season, this veggie works well in a food forest situation. I let them grow vertically up a large tree. I'll grow my livestock ones this way, harvesting the fruits as they fall. My personal food ones I grow on the ground or on a fence so that I can harvest the tender immature fruits and vine tips..
 
Lance Hill
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I am sorry, the endangered variety of mirliton is the only one that grows in North America: the Louisiana heirloom variety which has been grown here for 150 years. The imported "Chayote", which are sold at stores and mercados, are primarily grown in Costa Rica at nearly 5,000 feet.  I envy your climate with 2300 feet altitude and only 60 inches of rainfall, but to grow at a few feet above sea level and with nearly 100 inches of rainfall annually, it takes specialization.  In Australia, the Philippines, and other areas, Chayote is virtually an invasive species.  This is covered in the free grower's guides at www.mirliton.org.
Lance
Mirliton.Org
 
Pearl Sutton
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Lance Hill wrote:I am sorry, the endangered variety of mirliton is the only one that grows in North America: the Louisiana heirloom variety which has been grown here for 150 years. The imported "Chayote", which are sold at stores and mercados, are primarily grown in Costa Rica at nearly 5,000 feet.  I envy your climate with 2300 feet altitude and only 60 inches of rainfall, but to grow at a few feet above sea level and with nearly 100 inches of rainfall annually, it takes specialization.  In Australia, the Philippines, and other areas, Chayote is virtually an invasive species.  This is covered in the free grower's guides at www.mirliton.org.
Lance
Mirliton.Org



Interesting!!
I'm in zone 6, wonder how far north they will grow?
Reading through your site.
Thank you!!
 
Su Ba
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Lance, thanks for the info! I've been perusing your website and am fascinated with the photos of the varieties. Many look like, or visually similar to, varieties I have on my farm. Very interesting. I was surprised by the diversity.

In my area I see this vegetable growing at 900' elevation, 40" annual rainfall. I don't know if irrigation is used since I only drive by the house where the garden is in the front yard. But considering how precious water is here, people seldom have irrigation unless it's laundry or shower greywater.

I got the impression that growing mirlitons in your area is a bit difficult, requiring attention. Where I'm located, the plants need very little care. It's one of my beginner gardener veggies that I encourage my students to try. We don't "plant" the "seed" in any fashion. We simply set it onto the prepared soil, pucker side down. Burying it in any fashion often results in rot around here. If the soil is naturally moist, I don't recommend watering. But if the student lives in a dryer zone, then I suggest watering the soil then applying a temporary carpet mulch in order to retain even soil moisture until the plant is established. In locations with burning sun, I suggest a temporary sunshade to keep the seed from burning until it us well sprouted.

I'm glad to hear that you're working to establish mirlitons in your area. It would make me sad to hear that they disappeared.
 
Lance Hill
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Thanks for the comments and questions. With the proper landrace, chayotes can grow with very little work.  It's the ultimate lazy-persons vegetable.  Just drop it on the ground and park a chair under the vine and wait for the fruit to drop on your head.  No weeding, pruning.  But in challenging climates, it take a lot of preparation and constant monitoring for soil moisture, diseases, and pests.  We use the "worse case scenario" method of gardening: expect the worse and hope for the best.  Every problem has a pro-active prevention.  It's all in our "growing guides".  A fall frost can kill the flowers prematurely, so most growing occurs in areas where you don't get a frost until November, although high tunnels and overhead sprinklers can give you some room. A horticulturalist is Missouri grew one in a greenhouse and we have instructions on early-forcing of flowers that worker in Virginia.  It is a beautiful vine and was used here in New Orleans as an ornamental in the nineteenth century--and as one reader pointed out, elsewhere in the word they eat the tubers, tendrils, and leafs (taste like lawn clippings to me, but I just read they eat stink-bugs in Laos so "stink" is an ethnocentric term).  Try growing them everywhere--they have miraculous health qualities and you can nibble on the greens if you get frozen out.  Just don't use imported varieties'
 
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