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Friday, September 23, 2011

Sayote Series Part 1. Growing Sayote

Sayote plants needing a strong and tall trellis
My Nanay got so excited with planting all the tropical veggies when it finally sunk in her system that we do grow our own food here at least during the summer....potatoes, some onions, sweet corn, cucumbers, beans, etc. When we got some sayote (Squash Chayote is how it is labeled in the grocery store here), we found some shoots, and my Nanay's eyes lit up. "Let's plant this!"
Sayote shoots already present
It was around April, and here in Maine April is still too cold for any tropical plant to be placed outside. I was looking at my Nanay thinking, "It would be easier to just get them from the grocery store since it might be too late to start the plant now." However, I did not want to dampen the excitement I saw in my Nanay's eyes. We just got some free seedlings of ampalaya (bitter gourd) and alugbati (Malabar spinach) that my friend Anna started, which my Nanay excitedly planted in pots and in the big veggie garden.  So, to humor my mom, I did plant the sayote in a pot (I made two) and kept them in the sunroom. By the time it was safe to transplant outside (after Memorial Day, when the danger of frost is usually over), it was over a foot tall. I placed a tomato cage around it then.
sayote shoots
I should have read more about sayote plant before I even transplanted those that I planted this year. Sayote plant can be very invasive. They need sturdy support like chicken wire perhaps, preferably about at least 5-ft high. Another issue is that, it takes a long time for them to bloom, such that the whole summer period here, all I got from my plants are the shoots/tops. Never saw a flower. That was the reason why I ended up googling for ways to cook its shoots. And I am glad an fb friend told me sayote leaves could be eaten, because when I actually tried, I loved it!

It has been months now...no signs of buds/flowers. By the end of September, it will be very cold already, and most plants will be dead or will barely survive if frost hits them. I was getting hopeless about getting fruits (I was dreaming, if indeed we get sayote fruits from these, then I would freeze them.).  Then when I posted photos of my veggies in the garden, a fb friend told me the shoots of sayote are good stir-fried.  I heard the same thing from my Nanay, although I have never had that before. I did try it for the first time with shrimps, and I was hooked! It was so good!

So at least for now, my sayote will be for cooking the shoots. I got two more sayote from the grocery store, which I plan to plant indoor to hopefully have a continuous supply of shoots (if I consume them fast enough before it takes over my whole sunroom, since they are very invasive and will climb on anything, apparently).

I planted the sayote in a pot about 2-gallon capacity, then I placed some wire support (you can use tomato cage. I used here the wire basket that came with the upside down tomato planter). This photo was taken tonight as I type this post. I am hoping that planting it during fall will give me flowers by May, and hopefully some fruits by July or August, which I can probably figure out a way to can for future use. (Canning produce makes the shelf life of such garden veggies longer, so it is cost-effective for me, not to mention I love knowing where my food comes from and how they were cared for.)
Shoot of sayote


  1. wow! it's really nice and exciting to grow your own veggies! sana mamulaklak na :)

  2. In Baguio City, they cook sayote shoots but I was too unfortunate not to taste them when we went there February. And I'm getting excited with your sayote, it reminds me when I was still in Grade 3-4, we had a backyard in Cebu and I'd always plant anything that has seeds. I always get a high seeing the plants grow and bring forth vegetables or fruits. :)

  3. hmm talbos ng sayote!!sarap na igisa tapos plain rice at pritong GG!sana may garden din kami gaya mo manang para makapag tanim ako ng mga gulay natin hehe :)

  4. Wow! So exciting for me to see sayote growing in Maine ha! Great to see your mom enjoying her sayote plant.

    We use galvanized iron wire for a grid in Baguio strung by sturdy posts. I have been looking for sayote here but I have to make a special trip to the Asian store.

  5. PinoyKitchenette, sana nga mamulaklak na so that by next summer, makatubo naman ng bunga. (I will keep my fingers crossed!)

    Josh, maybe you missed your calling...you probably should have been in the lines of agriculture or botany instead of engineering. :) Anyway, it is so easy to plant, and once the leaves get going, just keep it pruned to encourage more shoots to appear.

    ella11, that's one blessing I have here in this rural area of Maine. I got a lot of potential gardening area, and my husband knows about farming (although he does not like farming as a source of living). Summers may be short, but I do get my fill of fresh veggies during these months.

    Tina, I know! Sayote in Maine! Haha! I really never planned to do it, if not for Nanay urging me to plant it. I am glad she did, so now I know the delightful way to enjoy sayote tops.

  6. pwede po a magorder ng sayote leaves?


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