Ground cherries are a delicious and easy-to-grow fruit that is native to the Americas. They are a member of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. Ground cherries have a sweet, tangy flavor that is similar to a cross between a tomato and a pineapple. They are also high in vitamins A and C.
Planting ground cherries
Ground cherries can be planted from seed or seedlings. If you are planting from seed, start them indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Sow the seeds ¼ inch deep in a seed-starting mix. Keep the soil moist and warm, and the seeds should germinate in 2-3 weeks.
If you are planting seedlings, wait until after the last frost date to transplant them outdoors. Space the plants 2-3 feet apart in full sun. Ground cherries prefer well-drained soil, but they can tolerate some clay soils.
Growing ground cherries
Ground cherries are relatively low-maintenance plants. They need regular watering, especially during hot, dry weather. Mulching around the plants will help to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
Ground cherries are not as susceptible to pests and diseases as some other fruits. However, they can be susceptible to aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites. If you see any pests, you can treat them with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Harvesting ground cherries
Ground cherries are ready to harvest when they are golden yellow. The fruits will turn orange or red if they are left on the vine too long. To harvest, simply pick the fruits from the vine.
Storing ground cherries
Ground cherries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. They can also be frozen for longer storage.
Enjoying ground cherries
Ground cherries can be eaten fresh, cooked, or dried. They are a delicious addition to salads, salsas, and pies. Ground cherries can also be cooked like tomatoes or used in chutneys and jams.
Here are some additional tips for growing ground cherries:
- Plant ground cherries in a sunny location with well-drained soil.
- Mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
- Water the plants regularly, especially during hot, dry weather.
- Fertilize the plants every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
- Harvest the fruits when they are golden yellow.
- Store the fruits in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
With a little care and attention, you can enjoy delicious ground cherries from your own garden.
Here are some additional details about growing ground cherries:
- Ground cherries are self-pollinating, so you do not need to worry about cross-pollination with other plants.
- Ground cherries are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and fiber.
- Ground cherries can be grown in containers, so they are a great option for gardeners with limited space.
- Ground cherries are a relatively new crop, so they may not be available at all grocery stores. However, you can usually find them at farmers markets or specialty produce stores.
I hope this information helps you grow your own delicious ground cherries!