In my new book, Veggie Garden Remix, I talk about how to grow cherries from soil in a garden. This tomato cherry is also known as husk cherry and has become one of our favorite crops due to its ease of cultivation and generosity of marble-sized golden fruits. Read on to learn more about this fantastic garden vegetable!
Beautiful earth cherries
The taste Of a ripe ground cherry is comparable to pineapple with notes of cherry tomato and vanilla. This is an unusual Combination, but it works. Every now and then I’ll bite into an extra-ripe berry that almost tastes like caramel-sublime! Their sweet taste is what earns them the nicknames ” strawberry tomato “and”cossack pineapple”.”You can eat the fruit fresh or as a salad, but you can also turn it into jam, cake, pavé or sauce to pour ice or cheesecake. If you have a dehydrator, you can dry them and eat them like raisins.
It’s a fun, easy-to-grow crop, with low, bushy plants that produce hundreds of marble-sized berries from midsummer to autumn frost. Fruits fall from mature plants, hence the name ground cherry. They are solid fruits, even ripe, with seeds so small that the fruits actually seem seedless.
Hard to start, but auto-seeding forever
The first step in growing cherries from soil in a garden is to germinate them. They are notoriously difficult to germinate, but a little heat from the soil will increase the germination rate. I sow the seeds inside, 6-8 weeks before my last expected spring frost, and help by covering the pods with clear plastic wrap and placing them on my refrigerator to keep them warm. Germination can last from 2 to 3 weeks. If you are transplanted into the garden, expect the harvest to begin in 70-75 days.
Place them in a sunny place in the garden or in large pots and dig a few centimeters of aged compost or manure. A regular intake of moisture gives fruits of the highest quality, so water regularly if there was no rain. A 2-Inch Layer of Straw or Shredded Leaves on the Ground prevents weeds, maintains soil Moisture, and keeps fallen Fruits clean.
You can only start cherries once! They are fertile self-sowers, so expect many volunteer plants to appear next season. You can either remove them and leave a few in place, or dig them up to share with family and friends who take care of the gardening. If you grow them in containers on a terrace or terrace made of wood, stone or concrete, the risk of self-seeding is minimized. In addition to harvesting all overripe fruits that are on the garden bed in after autumn.
Related post: cherry tomatoes round up!
Cultivation of earth cherries in a garden
To grow country cherries in a garden, remember that plants have a relaxed growth habit that can take up a lot of space. I use tomato cages (inserted at the time of transplantation) or I insert three 4-foot wooden stakes around the plant and use twine to keep the growth relatively vertical. If you support your ground cherry trees, you can transplant them 2 feet away.
Unsupported plants should be at least 3 feet apart. They don’t get very tall (between 1½ and 3 feet tall), and they can also be grown in pots on a terrace or sun deck. Earth cherries pollinate themselves, so small gardeners can benefit from this culture, even if they have only one plant.
Although our annual ground cherry harvest is rarely disturbed by pests, we sometimes see the tiny holes in the leaves caused by flea beetles. Also pay attention to potato beetles or striped cucumber beetles. The combination of crop rotation with a light row cover placed on the seedlings at the time of planting will help deter most pests. Remove the lid when the plants begin to bloom.
Look down for Fruit
Harvesting is as simple as picking fallen fruit-a favorite pastime for our children! Sometimes the fruits are still immature when they fall and need more time to ripen from inedible green to rich golden yellow. You can leave them on the ground for a week or two, but because squirrels also like this delicacy, I collect the fallen fruits every other day and bring them inside to complete the ripening. To keep the fallen fruits clean, I apply a straw mulch under the plants in early summer. It also helps to keep the soil evenly moist, which earth cherries appreciate. To encourage ripe or almost ripe fruits to fall, you can” tickle ” or gently tousle the plant every few days.
If you do not want to eat your whole crop right away, store the berries, always in pods, in a refrigerator, cool cellar, garage or root cellar. Under ideal conditions, you can store between 6 weeks and 3 months. If frost browbeat in the fall, cover the plants with a row cover or frost cover to protect the crop. This can extend the season by several weeks.
We like to eat our earth cherries directly from the garden, the golden fruits of the pods and burst into our mouths. You can also bake the berries into scones, cakes, pies and cakes, bake them with sugar and vanilla to make a sublime sauce for ice cream, or turn them into delicious jam.
To learn more about how Niki is transforming her vegetarian garden with new, unusual and global crops, purchase a copy of the Veggie Garden Remix from Amazon or your Local bookseller.