Garden Huckleberry

New! 80-90 days. Garden Huckleberries (Solanum melanocerasum) are not to be confused with true Huckleberries (Vaccinium spp., Gaylussacia spp.), which grow on shrubs. The annual Garden Huckleberry is native to Africa. Closely related to Tomatoes and Ground Cherries, it is grown similarly, but produces 1/2” to 3/4”, deep purple-black berries that won’t impress when eaten fresh, but when cooked and sweetened as one would Rhubarb, will remind you of blueberries or Concorde grapes! The upside to the unsavory taste of the fresh berries is that birds and other wildlife don’t like them, either. The antioxidant-rich berries should only be picked after their shiny sheen has dulled and they begin to soften. Any earlier they are unripe and slightly toxic, and may upset the stomach. They hold well on the plant, so there’s no rush to harvest. Turn the ripe berries into pies, syrups, jams and sauces, or freeze them for winter treats months later. Delicious! The drought-tolerant plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and prefer partial shade and moderately fertile soil, but otherwise need little coddling and may reseed. Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before transplanting them out into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. (OP.)

One packet of about 100 seeds

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Item
#2397
$4.25
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  • Information
  • Ground Cherries were once quite popular in American gardens, especially with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the mid-1800s, but slowly all but disappeared until recent years. They are well-worth rediscovering! The compact, sprawling plants are like the love child of a Cherry Tomato and a Tomatillo, and the fruits, encased in papery husks, are of an indescribable flavor that is a mix of Cherry Tomato, Pineapple and Grape. Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. Sow the seeds 1/2" deep and keep the soil warm and consistently moist. They may take their time germinating, but will grow steadily once they do. Once all danger of frost has passed, harden off the seedlings and plant them out in rows, 2-3' apart. While the plants prefer full sun, they will tolerate just a bit of shade. Mulch the plants, fertilize occasionally and keep the soil evenly moist throughout the season to ensure fruit set, tapering off as the fruits begin to ripen. As the name suggests, when the fruits begin falling from the plant, they are ready to harvest. Collect them from the ground or pick them as their husks dry and split. Fruits can be eaten fresh, cooked into pies, tarts and sauces, or dried for snacking. Deer resistant.

    Average seed life: 2 years.
Ground Cherries were once quite popular in American gardens, especially with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the mid-1800s, but slowly all but disappeared until recent years. They are well-worth rediscovering! The compact, sprawling plants are like the love child of a Cherry Tomato and a Tomatillo, and the fruits, encased in papery husks, are of an indescribable flavor that is a mix of Cherry Tomato, Pineapple and Grape. Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. Sow the seeds 1/2" deep and keep the soil warm and consistently moist. They may take their time germinating, but will grow steadily once they do. Once all danger of frost has passed, harden off the seedlings and plant them out in rows, 2-3' apart. While the plants prefer full sun, they will tolerate just a bit of shade. Mulch the plants, fertilize occasionally and keep the soil evenly moist throughout the season to ensure fruit set, tapering off as the fruits begin to ripen. As the name suggests, when the fruits begin falling from the plant, they are ready to harvest. Collect them from the ground or pick them as their husks dry and split. Fruits can be eaten fresh, cooked into pies, tarts and sauces, or dried for snacking. Deer resistant.

Average seed life: 2 years.
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