This past weekend was one of highs and…not lows but…maintaining stasis. Saturday was a brilliant day replete with suns and clouds. After running some errands in the morning, it was off to the home store to pick up soil… lots and lots of soil for our new stone-wall raised bed. When it was all said and done, we ended up using close to 40 cubic feet of a combination of top soil, garden soil, and compost in order to fill the thing. Impressive!
After that, it was onto to tilling up the existing beds and getting them ready for planting. By the time all that was done, the day was drawing to a close and it started to look like rain. So we called it quits thinking that we’d get to planting on Sunday.
But…no. It rained slowly but steadily over much of late Saturday evening into early Sunday morning. When we finally dragged our sore selves outside, the ground was clearly soaked through, and more rain was in the forecast. So we ended up with a lazy but restless day.
But we didn’t just sit on our hands all day. We went over our planting maps and further hashed out a few unfinished thoughts about where some the plants might go. From this arose a discussion that has been in our heads for awhile surrounding the ground cherries.
What the heck were they again and what would we do with them?
But let’s back up for a moment to January. While perusing through the magazine section of our local bookstore, a pretty catalog catches our eye. It’s got a dark cover and is titled The Whole Seed Catalog. At this point, we had already received our standard seed catalogs in the mail and had started making some choices from them. But this…this catalog was a whole other beast. Just a quick glance through it in the store brought forth visions of plants we’d never heard of before. We bought it without a second thought.
The Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is simply amazing, and from it we were determined to take a chance on planting at least one item that was completely new to us. As we hope to do this in subsequent years, this year we picked ground cherries, variety P. Pruinosa. As we’ve been thinking about added more sweet fruit to our gardening routine, ground cherries sounded like a good place to start. But what is a ground cherry?
Well, for one, they aren’t tomatillos (though they do grow in husks) or gooseberries (though the ripe fruits can look similar) or even cherries (though they are about the same size). Ground cherries are native to many areas in the Western Hemisphere and Australia (or so we’ve read) and often grow wild. We can’t speak from experience, but they are supposed to be sweet and tart, and apparently they make great jams and pies. Our variety is supposed to produce yellowish berries. If you just let ground cherries go in the yard, they will spread into huge bushes. Or, you can supposedly train them like tomatoes, which is what we’re going to try to do. Searching for them online, the uses for them seem to be endless. We already mentioned the pies and jams, but they can be eaten raw or substituted, presumably, for cherries in any dish that might call for them, be it sweet or savory.
Our plan for the ground cherries is, first, to see if we can ever get them to grow. They were much slower to germinate in the seed trays that all the other seeds and the seedlings remain quite small for the moment. We’re putting them out in our two half-barrels where last year we planted tomatoes. And they’re going to be accompanied by wax beans (companion planting). Maybe they’ll take and maybe they won’t, but the prospect of having small fruits in the garden that aren’t tomatoes and don’t require trees was too good to turn down!
Now all we need is for Mother Nature to give is a break on the rain so we can get things transplanted!
Until next time, here are a few more picture updates on what’s going on in the raised beds so far.