Mireltons (Alligator Pears) - Knowledgebase Question

Rosedale, Lo
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Question by hughesmarcia
October 29, 2010
Hope you can help, exactly how/when do you plant Mireltons? How do you care for them to ensure productive plants and vegetables???

Answer from NGA
October 29, 2010
The mirliton, or chayote, is also commonly called vegetable pear in its Louisiana homeland. Mirliton loves sunshine and warm weather, and must have a growing season of 150 days. The fruit produces a single almond-sized seed that must be germinated within the fruit itself.

Store the mirliton in a cool, dark, dry location to germinate. The sprout will emerge in about four weeks. When the new shoot is 5 to 6 inches long, it can be planted. If you're still expecting frost in your area, keep the sprouted seed stored until the weather warms up a bit. You can trim the sprout to 3 to 4 inches long if you need to keep it stored for any length of time. If so, just continue to trim the sprout to keep it 3-4 inches long until you can plant it.

Choose a sunny spot with exceptionally good drainage next to a fence or trellis after all danger of frost has passed. Mirlitons require a sturdy structure to support its vigorous vining growth. Prior to planting, cultivate a bed about 12 feet long and 3 to 4 feet wide to a depth of about 12 inches. Dig a 3-foot wide pit in the middle of the bed, about 6 inches deep. Mix 2 tbsp. of 8-24-24 fertilizer into the backfill soil.

Position the sprouted mirliton at a 45-degree angle with the sprout pointing downward in the center of the pit. Plant it so that the top half-inch of the fruit remains exposed. The sprout will find its way to the surface.

Mulch the entire planting bed with straw or leaves, but leave the top of the mirliton exposed. This will help retain moisture and discourage weed growth. Roots of a mature mirliton plant will spread about 6 feet in all directions.

Water the soil surrounding the planted mirliton thoroughly. It should be uniformly moist, but not soggy or wet. Continue to water on a regular basis and your mirliton will grow and produce lots of fruit.

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