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.