Now, it is time for me to plant them (indoors) and I find myself with some questions. What does this plant even look like? Are there any special considerations I should keep in mind? I looked back at the description on the Seed Savers website, where I originally purchased my seeds. All I found there is:
(Physalis pruinosa) Native of eastern and central North America. Outstanding Polish variety prized for its unique flavor. Easy to grow, prolific, and super sweet. Can be used for preserves, pies, over ice cream, or in fresh fruit salads. The ½-¾" fruits are encased in a papery husk that turns brown when the fruits ripen. Stores 3-4 weeks in the husk. Productive plants have a sprawling habit. 70 days from transplant.
Green Thumb Tip
Sow seeds indoors ¼" deep. Plant out when the danger of frost has passed. Excellent results at Heritage Farm when grown on landscape cloth, which suppresses weeds and makes collecting the fruits easier.
They also said that plants should be 12-18 inches apart and needed full sun. Well, that's a start, I suppose, but it didn't even show what the plants look like. Considering that they were described as having a "sprawling habit" this had me worried, so I did some more poking around the internet. Turns out that they are self-propagating, take up a lot of space if left unchecked, and are considered to be an invasive species in some areas. Wow! Good thing I looked into this! This does not sound like something I want to unleash on my yard, especially considering the concerns I already have with the trailer park management!
Well, I already told the kids that I'd plant them some and already bought the seeds, so I dug around on the internet a bit further to see what sorts of other experiences others have had with them. I hit the jackpot with this page, since their lay proof that these things can be successfully grown in containers. That should keep them from taking over too much of the yard in this generation and, if I put them on the patio area, that should keep them from hiding random fruit from me that could lead to an infestation of future generations. Based on my other random wanderings on the internet, as well as experience converting garden spacings to container sizes, I'm going to say that each of these plants needs a 5-gallon bucket to live happily. Fortunately, I have a lot of those left available from last year!
That site also mentioned that 5 plants should be plenty for a family, but since they don't know my kids, I plan on planting 6-9 plants (I'll start 9 and see how many I can not kill off with my brown thumb). I do know that I have to have at least 2 plants though, since they are cross-pollinating so one plant by itself won't do much. It also mentioned that it is insanely easy to store seeds from these for future years, so my packet of 50 seeds is way, way a lot and I probably don't need that many--ever! So it's time for another contest!
Okay, I know that some of the stuff mentioned here may make you leery of growing them yourself, but as long as they are in containers or raised beds of some sort, it should be fine. They are very prolific, apparently producing as much as 300 of the little fruits per plant. From what I've read, they have a delicious taste, somehow combining pineapple and vanilla flavors (huh? I'm not picturing it, but my son, who has had them, agrees with this assessment) and have a high level of pectin in them, making them great for preserves, jams, pies, and ice cream topping (yogurt flavoring?). Yum!
You know you want some, so here's your chance to win some! I'm going to give away approximately a dozen (probably slightly more than 12. They are tiny, so I think it will be hard to count them out!) of these precious ground cherry seeds! That's plenty to get a huge crop going for this year, saving plenty seeds for more next year! Just remember that they are best grown in containers. Because I'm sure there are legal issues with mailing plant matter across country borders, I'm afraid I'm going to have to limit this contest to the United States. To enter, "like" my page on Facebook, "follow" this blog on Blogger (look up to where it says "follow" near the top of the screen), or leave a comment from now until the contest ends on any of my blog posts! So, depending on how badly you want to win, you can enter up to 65 times! Crazy, I know! The contest ends Sunday night at midnight, so you have until then to make all those comments! Good luck, and may the fruit be with you. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)