Jessica Walliser
March 22, 2012

Ground cherry seeds
Photo by Jessica Walliser
I’m excited to get these ground-cherry seeds—cousins to the tomato—into the garden.

I’ve been busy gathering my seed-starting equipment, as I’ll begin starting seeds in the next week or two. I have a beautiful three-tiered grow-light system given to me by a friend, and it always seems to fill up too fast! I’ll be starting tomatoes, peppers, cole crops, zinnias, cosmos, amaranth and a few others.

One of the crops I am most looking forward to growing from seed for the first time this year is ground cherries. I first tasted them a few years ago while visiting a friend’s farm and wrote about them in the Farm Garden column of the March/April 2012 issue of Hobby Farms. I can’t wait to grow my own—they are delicious! If you are interested in trying something different, I purchased my seed from the Hudson Valley Seed Library, but several catalogs list them as well.

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Here’s how I described them in the magazine: “Sweet and juicy, tasting much like a cross between a pineapple and a tomato, ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa) are one fruit that deserves a place in your vegetable garden. A native of North America, ground cherries are in the tomato family (along with their brother, the tomatillo) and are super easy to grow and very prolific. The 3/4-inch fruits are covered by a papery husk and drop to the ground when they are ripe and are ready to harvest. Seeds of ground cherry are planted indoors 6 weeks before last frost and are transplanted outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Ground cherries are seriously delicious eaten fresh, made into jam or baked into a pie.”

Make a home for a few of the plants in this year’s veggie patch then report back to me in the fall. I’m curious to hear if your opinion of ground cherries mirrors mine!

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