Sometimes us gardeners get a tad lazy.
It can be rather hard work maintaining a big veggie garden, especially during the height of summer when a garden is growing like mental. I think everyone can agree that sometimes there is a patch in the garden where we’re ‘just letting the soil rest’, when in reality we are just to buggered to do anything else.
For this patch of sun, I give you the Choko!
I particularly like Chokos not only because they are stupidly easy to grow, but because another common name for a Choko is a Christophine! I knew I liked them for a reason! They are actually in the Cucurbitaceae family – the family including cucumbers, melons and squash – and they thrive in NSW.
They are so easy to grow, you quite literally throw one into the ground and up it comes! If you know someone who grows them, ask them to save you one which has started to shoot. If you don’t know anyone, try asking on Gumtree, or Newcastle Freecycle. (they’re always on there). Pop it in some nice sexy compost, on its side, about half-way into the soil, making sure it has very good drainage as they hate wet feet. Then sit back and watch it go cray cray. They are extremely quick growing and will easily grow up to 12 feet if they have the support. They do like lots of food, so give them worm wee once or twice a month, if you can be bothered. They have rather vigorous root systems and do not need much water once they are established.
Despite hearing lots of myths at work, Chokos do not need a male and a female to produce fruit as each plant has both male and female flowers. But putting in more than one plant is generally a good idea because it means better pollination, a larger and longer harvest, and more coverage over that ugly fence down the back of the veggie patch.
Now, to the cooking bit. To be honest, Chokos are rather dull tasting. But they’re free! And there are usually zillions of them when they are in season – which for us in NSW is about 9 months of the year. The best thing about Chokos, it that they are incredibly versatile. They can be boiled, steamed, baked, fried and pickled! My favorite way to eat them is to pick them when they are young and little, slice them up, batter them with bread crumbs and make parmigiana! Yum. They also make a very convincing apple substitute in a pie. Just boil them in apple juice, or add apple essence and hey presto, apple pie! There are lots of recipe’s out there, or better yet, make up your own recipe!
For me, the thing I love about Chokos most, is that for about 10 mins of work, you get about 10 billion chokos, because at times, we can all do with a bit of extra time to relax.