Chaya or spinach tree or Tree Spinach (Cnidoscolus chayamansa) is actually about twice as nutritious as spinach. It is a good source of nutrients including protein, calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamin C. It is a fast growing dense shrub, native to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. It grows to about 6-8 feet tall.
Soil: Tolerates most soil conditions, but might dislike acid. Liming and fertilizing should benefit Chaya. The leaves contain a lot of protein, calcium, and potassium, so the soil must have it for the plant to extract, if it is to be healthy. (Nitrogen to make protein)
Water: well to somewhat well drained. Tolerates brief flooding and droughts
Sun: full is best, tolerates shade
Cold: Can be killed by a hard freeze, but will usually resprout from the roots. Mulch the base to protect it.
Pruning: Unnecessary, but sometimes used to control height. Crowded internal branches can be removed for propagation or aesthetics.
Propagation: Easily propagated by stem cuttings.
Other problems: It can be slow to get going.
Harvesting, storage, and preparation: Most recommendations say not to harvest until the second year, because the plants are slow to establish before they can grow quickly. Our plants seem to take very quickly to our special potting mix. Never harvest more than 50% of the leaves, except from stems cut for propagation. Leaves must be cooked to release cyanide, which evaporates. Apparently aluminum cookware can cause a diarrhea-causing reaction with the cyanide compounds when cooking. We are not sure if this is true. On principle it’s wise to cook all fruits and vegetables in non-aluminum pans because of their high acidity.
More photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/search?sort=relevance&text=Cnidoscolus%20chayamansa
More information, including recipes: http://thematrix.sureste.com/cityview/merida2/articulos/chaya.htm
pdf – Chaya Information Sheet (to print out)
Michael Adler I will not get back in time to host a volunteer day Sunday, so there won't be one,not that anyone was coming anyway. Try again next week? Well, i guess that one's the earth skills share fest so maybe not then either. But come to the share fest.27.11.2014 at 04:22 am
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Michael Adler So the forecasting for the last cold front was terrible. Tuesday night's low was dropping all week until it hit 24 that night, but the actual temp didn't get below 30. Wednesday's forecast was also dropping all week from not near freezing down to 28 that night, and it actually got below 20 degrees (at Siembra). I was not expecting that. Usually for the first cold snap, the freezing of all the tender vegetation protects what's underneath. I didn't mulch our chayotes and I'm not sure they're coming back. Everything froze solid all the way through, if it wasn't cold-hardy or in the greenhouse. Our outdoor thermometer said we got to 220.127.116.114 at 09:21 pm
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Craig Hepworth Yeah, all day on Tuesday I kept thinking it didn't seem like it was going to get as cold as they were predicting, based on current temp and dewpoint. Likewise all day on Wednesday, it never warmed up, and felt like one of those days that's going to turn into a hard freeze overnight. I'm really curious how they can mess up a forecast that badly.24.11.2014 at 09:33 pmRebekah Starr Whipple yeah, I had things covered, but if I had known it was going to be like that, I would have done more.24.11.2014 at 11:53 pmview 1 more commentsFaith Carr Then again with the rain prediction. Is there a weather smartypants? Not smartass.25.11.2014 at 02:23 am
24.11.2014 at 10:57 pm
Michael Adler Let's have a chayote festival! We'll get together and bring/cook lots of chayote themed recipes, and eat them and celebrate the abundance. Who's in? Who can host? EPP can supply the chayotes.16.11.2014 at 09:37 pm
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Karen Epple Can we do it as part of the Earthskills event on 12/7? One issue how the pick-up of the chayotes could be coordinated beforehand? I know the chayotes have a finite shelf life. I hate to see them go to waste. I assume you may give some to the food banks or St Francis House. I understand Woody Blue is coordinating the food for that event.22.11.2014 at 06:05 pmJoni Ellis NO, that day is full of activities and I do not to add more chaos to the activities already planned. There is a food procurement committee that is coordinating all the food donations. Woody is involved, so is Sarah, Gabrieala, PJ, Joe, and several others. There are spreadsheets to keep track of who is donating what. Keep the chayote fest separate please. they don't need processing for the gathering, they will keep just as they are.23.11.2014 at 07:39 am1view 5 more commentsJoni Ellis In addition, EPP is on the schedule for the Dec 7th event to have an open house like education session. I expect people will want to walk around and ask questions about edible plants, and make purchases of plants. I do not want to take away from that. Sorry if I sounded a bit kurt in the message above, I just don't others reorganizing the festival we already put so much time into organizing. I do appreciate the interest in helping. Michael will need help on Dec 7th to talk to folks and make sales. Please do volunteer on that day.23.11.2014 at 07:45 am3Karen Epple Cool, it will be interesting to see what all the creative cooks will prepare with them!23.11.2014 at 02:45 pmKaren Epple Didn't mean to cause a distraction. My enthnthusiasm can get ahead of me, sometimes Looking forward to the whole day!.23.11.2014 at 02:48 pmJoni Ellis Yeah and I didn't mean to squash creativity, I just had a moment of panic with one more thing going on. Keep the ideas coming Karen!24.11.2014 at 10:30 pmMichael Adler We still need to decide on a date. Ellen Cunningham has offered her house as a location.24.11.2014 at 10:55 pm
Joni Ellis I need volunteers to help move the planters in the front of the Co-op ASAP. The city is going to install nice bike racks and benches early December. Who can help and when? Please call me 352-262-7300 or text me with your ability to help. Thanks a bunch.20.11.2014 at 06:03 pm
Michael Adler Can anyone help move plants into the greenhouse tomorrow afternoon and back out the next day or two? I just thought of lots of things that aren't quite dormant yet, and might not like a freeze this hard this early.18.11.2014 at 12:18 am
Michael Adler You can take home chayotes and Pigeon peas18.11.2014 at 12:25 amEllen Cunningham Possibly Thursday afternoon. Give me a call if you're still at it.18.11.2014 at 10:18 pmview 3 more commentsMichael Adler thanks Ellen! can you come by after work? I'm not sure when we"ll finish up but maybe 4:30 or 5:30?19.11.2014 at 08:50 pmEllen Cunningham I should be there by 2:30 ish -19.11.2014 at 10:02 pmMichael Adler I probably won't be able to join you that early. Do you mean you'll be available? I'll try to call20.11.2014 at 12:12 am