Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A mystery fruit for the garden!

I have been researching new fruit to try out in our community garden.  I think I may have found the perfect option.  It is bothered by no pests or diseases.  It produces up to 300 fruit per plant.  It is easy to determine when it is ripe...in fact if falls off the plant and just needs to be scooped up!  All of that and it will store for 3 months!  Oh yeah and one more thing...one variety tastes like pineapple.  It can be eaten fresh, made into jam or frozen.  To me this sounds like a perfect addition to our garden.

The plant is related to tomatillos and tomatoes, so it's care is very similar.  Because it is difficult to find transplants you will probably need to start it from seed.  When it is time to transplant after your last average frost date you will bury the stem and leave just three leaf pairs above ground.  It is important to harden off the plants before transplanting or they will suffer transplant shock just like your tomatoes and eggplants.  They must be protected from frost but are otherwise care free.
The fruit is called the ground cherry and there are three varieties readily available. Aunt Molly's, Cossack Pineapple, and Goldie which all have harvest dates from 70 to 75 days from transplant.  The husked fruit will fall from the plant, at this point it is not quite ripe.  Give it a week or so on your counter and it will turn a golden apricot color.  Store it in the husk like a tomatillo and it will last up to 3 months in about 50 Fahrenheit.

This seems like a perfect fruit to try out.  We are practically guaranteed success with such a quick grower and it sounds like the plants produce quite well.  I have a feeling they will easily reseed like cherry tomatoes so we will need to be sure to get all of the fruit.

Looking forward to a new growing season and trying out some new plants in the garden.