The Q&A Archives: mirlitons

Question: How do you grow mirlitons or

Answer: Mirliton, also called the vegetable pear, chayote or mango squash, is a popular vegetable enjoyed by many.

Mirliton is a member of the cucumber family that produces delicious one-seeded fruit in the fall. The fruit has a flavor similar to squash and is used much like squash in recipes. The mirliton fruit is also the seed that would be planted in the spring for fall production.

November is a good time of year to acquire mirliton and to select quality seed for planting in the home garden; however, the mirliton seed selected need to be stored during the winter for planting in the spring.

To store them properly, wrap each seed separately in newspaper and place in a box or crate in a cool area such as in the garage or storage shed. Do not refrigerate the seed. Be sure to allow some air circulation from time to time to keep them cool.

For planting in the spring, work the soil well and preferably into a hill. Plant the whole fruit, one to a hill, on its side with the smaller or stem-end exposed a little above the soil. It is not necessary to plant two fruit seeds side-by-side in the same hill but you may do so if you choose. Use a 10-10-10 or 8-24-24 fertilizer at the rate of 1 ? to 2 tablespoons mixed well into the soil at planting. Add this amount on top of the hill every two months until production occurs. Mulch around the hill with compost, straw, leaves or other similar material to help control weeds and conserve moisture. Irrigate, especially during dry periods.

Since mirlitons grow on vines, they need support on which to climb. A strong wire fence or trellis provides satisfactory support. Be sure the area selected for growing mirlitons provides at least 12 hours of sunlight each day. This will be important for production of blooms and setting of fruit.

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