Aug 02

How to Grow Ground Cherries

ground cherries

Their name makes sense.

Ground cherries, a relative of tomatoes and looking very similar to their closer cousin tomatillos, are cherry sized and drop to the ground where they ripen.

Now if that sounds kind of messy to you, it really isn't. Like a tomatillo, they are wrapped in a papery shell which keeps them clean.

Start seeds indoors the same time as tomatoes, about 6-8 weeks before your last spring frost. Plant them when the soil is warm, setting the transplants in deep also like tomatoes.
The plants are pretty hardy and can take most soil types, but do better in a loose soil that allows for root growth.

Ground cherries also will develop more roots along any part of the stem that is below ground, helping them to take in more nutrients.

They produce many pretty small yellow flowers, and the tiny fruit will be ready to harvest about the same time as your tomatoes.

ground cherries

They start dropping to the ground at a green stage. When the husks turn a deep yellow, the fruit are ready to eat.

The taste has just a hint of tomato, but is much more like candy; very tart and sweet and rather addictive.
Prepare as you would berries or other fruit.

Botanical Name: Physalis spp.
AKA: Cape Gooseberry, Gooseberry, Strawberry Husk Tomato, Husk tomato
Spacing: 3 ft.
Hardiness: Anywhere you can grow a tomato.
Days to maturity: About 65 days to drop, a few more to ripen.
Harvest: As they fall, eat when the husks turn dark yellow.
Yield: Prolific.
Storage: They hold up well in the refrigerator. Freeze with the husks off. If you have any left, that is. Can as a jam or fruit chutney.
Pests & Diseases: Same as tomatoes.

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    • Avatar of gj
    • Nancy on August 3, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I planted these seeds once in the garden and forgot about them. As usual the weeds took over and one very hot humid day I was weeding and found them. I kept popping them in my mouth because they were so refreshing. I highly recommend it for those of us who work to exhaustion in the garden trying to squeeze in time on weekends. It’s instant hydration!

    • Avatar of gj
    • gj on August 3, 2014 at 10:00 am

    That’s a great story, and shows how easily they grow too! Thanks Nancy!

    • Avatar of gj
    • Debbie on August 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Where can I find these seeds I have looked every where for them ?

    • Avatar of gj
    • gj on August 5, 2014 at 7:54 am

    I know Baker Creek at has them. Also Territorial Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange.

    • Avatar of gj
    • Debbie on August 7, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you I will check them out..

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