Ground cherries, or Physalis pruinosa (P pruinosa), are a little-known fruit easy to grow at home with few pest and disease concerns. It’s no surprise many gardeners are growing this fruit and want to know how to harvest ground cherries and when to harvest ground cherries.
The sweet-tart flavor of these small yellow-orange fruits is like pineapple, with a subtle tomato flavor. Ground cherries, frequently known as husk cherries, are members of the Solanaceae plant family, including tomatoes. They are not related to the typical cherry tree, despite their name.
Ground cherry plants are small, spreading bushes with serrated edged and bright green leaves. In the summer, they yield golden blossoms before they ripen. The fruits, like tomatillos, are coated in a paper shell and appear in North America during the growing season, from late July to early October. Ground cherries originated in South America and are still popular there today.
When to Harvest Ground Cherries
When planted in the spring, ground cherries thrive. They only have one season to finish their life cycle because they are annuals. Learn when to pick ground cherries from your garden for the tastiest fruit.
Ground cherries grow in bushy vines producing hundreds of marble-sized berries throughout their growing season, from midsummer to October. These tasty little ground cherries are linked to cherry tomatoes and tomatillos, yet they’re not the same.
The ground cherry gets its name because as the fruit ripens, it falls. Pluck the husk cherry from the plant or take care of picking ground cherries from the plant or gather them from the ground.
Even when fully mature, these hard fruits have so few seeds they appear to be seedless. Growing ground cherries is appropriate for all growers, though many are still uncertain about how to harvest ground cherries and when to harvest ground cherries.
Ground cherry seeds have a high success rate if gardeners follow the growing directions for planting ground cherry seeds and know when to pick ground cherries.
Planting Ground Cherries
Before worrying about when to pick ground cherries, growers must understand how to plant them correctly. Go to the Seed Savers Exchange to purchase good quality organic seed for producing ground cherries at a reasonable price. The flower seed should be dry and mold-free to ensure a high chance of success when you plant ground cherries.
Plant the ground cherry seeds approximately 1/4 inch deep in a good quality seed starting mix indoors. Planting the seed in biodegradable seed starting cells, which you then place in your garden, is helpful since it prevents the roots from being disturbed. It is also possible to grow ground cherries in containers or pots and care for them indoors or out.
Maintain a warm environment for the seeds, between 75-85°F, and keep the soil moist, not waterlogged. The seeds germinate in about two weeks. Keep your seedlings near a bright window in damp soil until after your area’s last frost date.
Bring the ground cherry seedlings outside for increasingly longer periods for approximately a week to accustom them to direct sunshine before planting them in the garden. Ground cherries are good companion plants for tomatillos and many varieties of peppers.
Varieties of Ground Cherry for Your Garden
Ground cherries belong to the Physalis genus, including tomatillos and other plants with characteristic paper husks. They come in many sizes and forms, each with its unique set of characteristics.
Ground cherry plants develop haphazardly and expansively. Many gardeners use a tomato cage and twine to tie their ground cherry plants to stimulate vertical development to conserve space.
Ground Cherry Care
Ground cherries love full sun with at least six hours of direct sunlight. They tolerate some shade but produce fewer fruits. Use a fertilizer like manure tea to enrich the soil for your ground cherry bushes.
Mix and apply at the base of the ground cherry plants. Spritz the soil around the plants with a lot of water. Ground cherries require around one inch of water each week and appreciate damp soil. Plants exposed to dry weather are more likely to lose their flowers and yield no fruit.
If your area doesn’t get much rain, water your plants at least weekly or more if the soil is drying out from the heat. When cultivating open-pollinated ground cherries, cover crops are beneficial.
When to Pick Ground Cherries
Many growers ask, when are ground cherries ready to pick? To answer, we must first ask how long does it take for ground cherries to grow? Ground cherries usually bear fruit 70 days after transplanting (late July to August) and persist until frost.
As the fruit matures, the husk goes from green to papery-brown, and when fully ripe, the fruit falls off the plant. Unripe ground cherries are sour, whereas ripe ground cherries have a pleasant, fruity flavor with tropical elements.
When to pick ground cherries is when your fruits to turn brown with a dry and papery husk.
How to Harvest Ground Cherries
Ground cherry harvest time is an exciting moment to collect your delicious homegrown produce. Harvesting ground cherries or when you harvest tomatillos is simple and less labor-intensive than many other fruits.
The shrub is called ground cherry because the ripe fruit is often gathered from the ground. Each plant produces roughly one pound of fallen fruit in the late summer and early fall. A ripe ground cherry fruit’s husk dries out, becomes tan, and falls off the plant.
Some gardeners place buckets or fabric sheets under their ground cherry shrubs to collect the fallen fruits and make harvesting easier. Fruit left on the ground rots or may split open, resulting in damaged fruit or many undesired ground cherry seedlings, so collect your fruit often.
Whether you call them the husk tomato or husk cherry, fresh ground cherries are tasty in salads, dressings, and other dishes. Ground cherry fruits can be stored in a refrigerator for two weeks or frozen for several months if placed in an airtight container.
By exploring how to harvest ground cherries and when to pick ground cherries, gardeners arm themselves with the knowledge of when to harvest ground cherries for a bountiful harvest.
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