Have you been looking for a bountiful garden plant that produces enough fruit to make all the jams and sauces you’ve ever dreamed of? The gorgeous golden ground cherry might be just the ticket for your home garden this year. Learn where to plant ground cherries, when to harvest, and how to use the incredible yield to the fullest.
You may have spotted this cute little fruit in your grocery store produce aisle but perhaps weren’t sure what to make of the crinkly outer husk. Ground cherry plants are certainly curious, but they are delicious.
Ground cherries have a mild and sweet flavor, making them perfect for use in salsa, pies, tarts, garnish, and more. Ground cherries come wrapped like a gift from nature; they are highly productive and could be a terrific fit for you and your family this growing season.
Where do Ground Cherries Grow?
Learn helpful hints about where to plant golden berries so you, too, can appreciate this prolific plant. Nothing beats a summertime get-together to collect and enjoy the ground cherry harvest.
Now that you’re interested in growing glossy ground cherries, it’s time to learn the details. Where do ground cherries grow, and how well do they produce? Discover what you need to know about where to plant ground cherries for a successful yield this growing season.
What are Ground Cherries?
It may surprise you to learn ground cherries aren’t related to the shiny red stone-fruit at all but are members of the nightshade family with tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. One main difference between tomatillo and tomato is that tomatillos have a husk.
What is a tomatillo vs a ground cherry? We call ground cherries the husk tomato or husk cherry because the fruit grows inside a thin husk resembling a paper lantern called a calyx.
Growing ground cherries can become quite an adventure. There are many cultivars to choose from, and each is relatively hassle-free and ready to produce fruit with minimal assistance.
If you have the open garden space and the sunlight, you have to decide where to plant ground cherries and what to do with the masses of fruit you have at the end of the season.
Where do Golden Berries Grow?
You must be wondering, “Where do golden berries grow?” There are roughly 75 species in the Physalis genus, mostly from Central and South America.
The ground cherry seed spread to South Africa as the cape gooseberry, arrived in Hawaii in the 18th-century as the Poha berry, and then came to continental North America by the 20th century. When asking where do golden berries grow, the answer is that golden berries and ground cherries grow almost everywhere these days.
Where do ground cherries grow as far as your home garden is concerned? A growing ground cherry is a sprawling plant that thrives with very little upkeep. Grow ground cherry plants in raised beds, garden soil, or containers with good drainage. They’re hearty propagators and will come back again and again if direct-sown into your garden.
Where to Plant Ground Cherries: Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry
Let’s get started by learning where to plant ground cherries. Aunt Molly’s ground cherry cultivar originated in Poland and is mentioned in American agricultural literature as far back as 1837.
Purchase seeds like these from the Seed Savers Exchange; they are based in Iowa and are a non-profit that preserves heirloom vegetable and flower seeds. Or, purchase seedlings from your local nursery to transplant.
Begin your seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last predicted frost. Plant ground cherry seeds ¼ inch deep in individual pots or trays. Lightly cover and water seeds consistently while germinating. Ground cherry seedlings are frost tender, so wait until any threat of a surprise temperature drop has passed.
Ground cherries are hardy in zones 4 to 8 and are ready to transplant once your evening temperatures are 50°F and above. Space your cherry transplants 18 to 24 inches apart in rows 36 to 48 inches apart.
Choose loamy or sandy soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5, and water regularly until fruiting. These plants sprawl and require support such as a tomato cage or tying some supports with garden twine.
Plenty of direct sun exposure helps your ground cherry leaves absorb energy for photosynthesis. Notice how your plants turn their leaves toward the sun’s position for best light absorption? This is called phototropism.
You must be wondering, “How much sun do ground cherries need?” The ground cherries sun requirements are at least 6 hours of direct, full sun daily. Choose a location that accommodates these needs for bustling berries.
What not to plant with ground cherries and tomatillos includes tomatoes and other nightshades. These plants do not do well when in close proximity.
Harvest Notes for Ground Cherries
After choosing where to plant ground cherries, it’s time to think about harvest. A little goes a long way; one plant may give you up to a gallon of ground cherry fruit. Ground cherry harvest is similar whether you’re growing P peruviana or P pruinosa; they begin to flower about six weeks after emerging from seed and mature in 65-70 days.
When are ground cherries and tomatillos ripe? As harvest time nears, the fruits turn from green ground cherries to golden orange when ripe. Harvesting ground cherries is easy. Pick them before they drop, but fallen fruit is perfectly alright. You have to be quick, as any cherry left on the ground for a few days will dry up and disappear. A ripe ground cherry should be husked before consumption.
Try Ground Cherry Salsa
Growing ground cherries is so fruitful you may find yourself swimming in them come harvest time. Thankfully, there are tons of uses for these beautiful berries.
Aside from jams and sauces, ground cherries also keep well in the freezer. Pop them on a baking tray to freeze, then store them in a plastic bag. Use some ripe fruit for this mouth-watering salsa recipe.
After ground cherry and tomatillo growing, take those fruits and begin roasting your tomatoes by removing the core, slicing them in half, and placing them face down on a baking sheet. Put your oven on broil setting, and pop the tomatoes in for 5 to 10 minutes; the skins will blacken a bit.
Once cool, scoop the tomato meat out for your salsa and compost the skins. Combine the ingredients in your blender or food processor and pulse until mixed. Chill in the refrigerator, serve in your favorite fancy bowl, and enjoy.
We hope you’re thrilled with your newfound knowledge and already thinking about where to plant ground cherries in your yard. They’re at home in garden soil or almost any container you have handy; ground cherries are incredibly unfussy.
These precious little parcels add enjoyment to every environment and are so easy to grow. From the cape gooseberry to the Cossack Pineapple, there’s sure to be a ground cherry variety for you!
If you had a great time learning where to plant ground cherries, then share this article with a friend on Pinterest or Facebook who wants to grow their own garden fruit this season.