Garden Mysteries: Purple Beans, Choko, and the Struggle for Existence

The determination to survive and enjoy a long life is an innate quality of every living being, whether man, beast, bird, fish or plant. My climbing purple beans grow inches every day. Firmly rooted in the rich, moist ground, they now reach towards the sky, ever-tightly wrapping themselves around their bamboo rods, assuring themselves not only of their own survival, but of the survival of generations to come.

reach for the sky:

The small brown beans I planted a few weeks ago were the seeds from the dried fruits of a previous generation of purple beans (not unlike the ones pictured below) and when the fruits of this crop are long gone, the seeds I keep for next spring will be another generation yet to come. Thus the world goes on – birth, growth, reproduction, dwindling, and death.

purple beans that are yet to come:

The same ingenuity to survive can be seen in my backyard where I have planted a famous Australian & New Zealand legend, the choko. I bought a choko in the supermarket, placed it in a dark corner of a kitchen cupboard, and forgot about it until it sprouted. I then placed it, sprout facing sideways, 5 inches under the soil, and waited.

mature choko:

In case you’re still confused, this is a choko (above – in Orstraylia we say it like it rhymes with coco) and it’s an edible plant belonging to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, along with melons, cucumbers and squash. Choko is originally native to Mexico where it is known as chayote, but has been introduced as a crop worldwide. It is known in a mind-boggling number of countries by many names.

The chayote (Sechium edule) is also known as vegetable pearmirlitonpear squashchristophine in France, chouchoute in Vanuatu, starprecianté, citrayotacitrayote in Ecuador and Colombia, xuxu in Brazil, chow chowin India, cho cho in Jamaica, sayote in the Philippines, güisquil in Guatemala & El Salvador, and iskus in Nepal.

When cooked, choko is usually handled like summer squash, it is generally lightly cooked to retain the crisp flavor. Raw chayote may be added to salads or salsas, and it is often marinated with lemon or lime juice. Whether raw or cooked, chayote is a good source of amino acids and vitamin C. The secret is to pick the fruits when they are tiny and sweet, not big and hard like they appear in the supermarket.

climbing choko:

My choko vine (only planted 3 weeks ago!!!) will soon completely take over the back fence. It is practically indestructible, and by end of summer, or autumn, I’ll be pleading with neighbours to help me out by taking a bucket or two of the fruits.

So I wish these souls well, entrapped in plant bodies, as they grow to maturity. I sing for them in my daily gardening potterings, and I will chant the great mahamantra at the time of plucking and cooking their humble offerings. Their natural gifts, their fruits, will be used well, and they will live on, not only in the form of their future descendants, but more exactly in their next incarnation in the incomprehensibly complex cycle of samsara.

Posted by Kurma on 3/12/11; 2:58:25 PM

Life and Travel

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