TODAY our journey into the garden is to talk about the choco, a vine type vegetable that’s been around for many years.
It’s a food source that has been outdated with time and is not as fashionable as some foods grown today and not even purchased in quantity like tomatoes or potatoes.
It’s probably best known known for its bland taste, its ability to be mixed with other vegetables to increase bulk, or to add to an expensive product to make it go further or to add to the filling in a pie.
Is it a vegetable or a fruit? It’s whatever you want it to be.
Mixed with pears it can take on the characteristics of that fruit and increase the volume of a pie.
The vine is dead easy to grow, all you need is some spare land, doesn’t even have to be cleared, let the grass grow, dig a hole, and plant the whole fruit as is with the small new plant protruding from the end.
A little like a pumpkin to grow, just let it meander along the ground till the flowers come and then just wait till it grows some fruit.
If your ground is wet though, place some sugar cane mulch under the growing fruit to keep it dry.
As this column deals mainly with easy to grow type vegetables this has to be up there with the easiest.
The fruit is picked green and stays green the whole way through its life cycle, when picked and ready to be used, just peel the outer skin, which has little wrinkles, slightly soft/sharp and cut in the desired way, either mashed or cut in quarters or halves and added to whatever you want to bulk up.
Tastes like a squash and belonging to the gourd family, it is believed to be first cultivated in southern Mexico.
Should you need more potassium in your diet then this fruit has about 3% content, coupled with a small amount of protein as well as other minerals, and according to Google about 19 calories per 100grams.
Cut into strips it can be used in a stir fry and paired with Asian flavours or cut in half, baked, and filled with bacon and egg, for breakfast. There are many ways to use this food, even roasted on a BBQ with other vegetables.
Choko’s can be steamed to make them easy to peel, then cut into cubes and frozen or preserved in jars for later use.
In ideal conditions, chokos start maturing about 17 weeks from planting and picked when about 6-7 cm long. Remember to keep a few fruit for sprouting in your next crop.
They are a vigorous grower and can also be grown on trees or just have a strong support system available for the vine to grow on.
Hope this has enthused you to grow a choko in a spare part of your garden.