How to grow & care for Chokos
Chokos are an old-fashioned crop that’s making a comeback! Once upon a time, these vigorous vines covered pergolas, garages and garden sheds in many Australian backyards. With each Choko vine capable of producing 70-100 fruit each season, a single vine is normally plenty for any one household.
Chokos can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild flavour a little like cucumber or stewed apple, but they take on flavour easily - making them great for bulking out roasts, curries, stews, stir-fries and soups.
Top 4 steps to growing chokos
- Choose a full sun spot with free draining soil or grow in a large pot
- Choko vines are very vigorous, so provide a strong support structure for them
- Improve the soil before planting with Scotts Performance Natural Organic based Soil Improver and Scotts Performance Natural All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser
- Chokos are frost sensitive, so if you live in a region with heavy frosts - plant in late spring.
- Choko seeds or a whole Choko fruit (so you can save the seeds)
- Scotts Performance Natural Organic based Soil Improver
- Scotts Performance Natural All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser
- Garden trowel
- Large pot or planter plus Scotts Osmocote Performance Naturals Organic Based Potting Mix if growing in a pot
Choose a full sun spot and have the support structure installed before you plant to avoid disturbing roots later on.
Prepare the soil at the planting site by mixing Scotts Performance Natural Organic based Soil Improver and Scotts Performance Natural All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser through the top 10-20cm.
Growing from seeds
Chokos can easily be grown from seeds. If you can’t find the seeds nurseries, see if you can get your hands on a Choko fruit and save the seeds.
Plant seeds indoors at the end of winter if you live in a frost-prone area. Allow them to establish indoors without the risk of frost before planting them into prepared soil once the risk of frost has passed.
Warmer region and subtropical gardeners can direct sow Choko seeds into prepared soil at any time of the year.
Planting in the garden
Plant Chokos into prepared soil, at the base of your support structure.
Lightly mulch the soil around plants after planting with an open organic mulch to retain moisture. Water young Choko plants twice weekly to help them establish themselves. Feed in spring with Scotts Performance Natural All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser at the recommended rate.
Planting in pots
Chokos can be grown in large pots about 40-50cm by 50cm, just make sure the pot has plenty of drainage holes. Position your pot next to the support structure for the growing vine and fill the pot with Scotts Osmocote Performance Naturals Organic Based Potting Mix.
In the centre of the pot plant one Choko plant and water it in well. As the plant grows, train the growth up the support structure or trellis. Young chokes will need regular watering as they establish new roots.
Feed in spring with Scotts Performance Natural All Purpose Organic Based Fertiliser at the recommended rate.
Young and small Chokos are the best ones to harvest. As the fruit ages, the skin becomes tough and not very nice to eat, even when peeled!
Chokos can be cooked in the same way you would zucchini or potatoes - remember they take on the flavour of any ingredients. In scares times Chokos were even said to add bulk to jams, preserves and apple pies.
Pests & Diseases
- Chokos are unlikely to suffer from any major pest or disease attack. And because they are such heavy croppers you probably won’t even need to net the vine to stop wildlife from taking their share of the crop.
- If caterpillars can also attack Choko vines - pick them off by hand if they aren’t in huge populations, but if their numbers get out of control spray with Defender Pyrethrum Insect Spray.