Aunt Mollys Organic Ground Cherries
Delicious tropical taste in an attractive paper wrapper. Ground cherries are very sweet and taste a bit like pineapples. Can be used in preserves, pies or over ice-cream, but here at Veseys we love to eat them raw. The plants and fruits resemble tomatillos, with each fruit growing inside a papery husk called a calyx. But fruits mature to a golden orange colour and drop to the ground when ripe. The sweet little fruits will store for up to three months if kept in their husks, but you’ll want to use them faster than that in jams, fruit salads, and sauces. Start seed indoors 8 weeks prior to transplanting. Matures in 60-65 days after transplanting. Approx. 25 seeds/pkg.
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Ground cherries are slow to get started so they should be started 8 weeks prior to transplanting. Press seeds lightly into soil surface, cover lightly and provide constant moisture and bottom heat. Slower than tomatoes to germinate requiring 10-14 days.
Provide lots of sunlight or artificial light. If you must place pots on your windowsills, be aware that it may get very hot on sunny days and very cold at night which may cause the plants to dry out or get frost or heat damage. Turn containers frequently to allow plants to grow evenly. Water whenever potting mix is dry to the touch. Feed regularly with any balanced water-soluble fertilizer with a weak solution every time you water (constant feed), rather than a strong solution every 2 weeks. You may also use a slow release fertilizer especially for containers, such as SmartCote Hanging Basket Food. Organic alternatives would be Earthworm Castings. Removing 1-2 sets of leaves from each stem or “pinching” may help some varieties stay bushy and produce more flowers.
Gradually adjust your plants to outside conditions over a period of a week or two. First place them outside on a warm, calm day in the shade for a few hours. Work up to more sun, wind, and cooler temperatures and finally leave out overnight. Permanently place or plant them outside after your last spring frost date. Check moisture levels everyday, and water when necessary. Continue to fertilize throughout the season. Watch out for the usual insect pests: whiteflies, aphids, thrips, and spider mites.
Plants will grow to 24 inches tall and spread 18 inches, so space 24-36 inches apart after all risk of frost has passed. Ground cherries are fairly light feeders so a good application of compost or well-rotted manure at planting should be adequate. Growing though plastic or paper mulch is beneficial as it suppresses weeds and makes the fruit easier to find once it has dropped from the plant.
Fruit are ripe when the husks turn brown and drop from the plant. Ground cherries will keep for a number of weeks once picked if left in the husks.
Pests and Diseases: Ground cherries do not have any major pests or diseases.