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January 18, 2020, 7:27 am Advertisments



Do you know what you are looking at? I didn't until a chance meeting with Susan Jensen.

That is the dream of the White Rock Sun fulfilled.

Since the inception of Canada's FIRST Online Newspaper it has been my goal to include as many community voices as possible. When I recently met Susan for the first time the topic somehow ended up being about her community garden. My ears perked up. "Would you be at all interested in writing about gardening locally?"

Well imagine my pleasant surprise when this article on Ground Cherries turned up this week. Thank you Susan and thank you readers. If you have an idea for a story in THE SUN please let me know.

David Chesney


Seed Catalogue Alert: Ground Cherries

On December 1, I harvested the last of this summer’s ground cherry crop. I can’t say enough about this garden plant that has been producing fruit since July and keeps going until it freezes. You’ve probably seen ground cherries (Physalis species - sometimes called “gooseberries”) as a garnish on dessert plates. It’s papery husk is distinctive -- the plant is related to the Tomatillo and Chinese Lantern. The fruits inside taste like fruit punch and are amazing raw or in desserts.

These plants grow like crazy as annuals in our climate on the sunny peninsula. Start from seed indoors in early spring. Plant plenty and give some warmth so enough germinate. Once they’re growing, pot them up, and then transplant them out in a sunny spot when the weather warms up -- like tomatoes. Give them lots of space and plan to do some staking or caging or else by the end of the summer they’ll sprawl out 3 feet in all directions. They’re pest/disease resistant and require little care.

Little yellow flowers on the plant will each develop into a fruit - and they’ll keep coming on until the plant freezes. You can get a hundred or more fruits from each plant during our growing season. Pick each fruit once its husk turns yellow. The ripe fruits are about an inch in diameter, depending on the variety, and are orange. There’s no pit.

Like tomatoes and potatoes, these are a nightshade. The green, unripe fruits and leaves contain the toxic chemical solanine. I am guessing the leaves and green fruit don’t taste good anyhow.

All in all I recommend adding ground cherries to your winter seed order -- you can find them alongside the Tomatillo varieties. This year I had 3 plants -- one at the Crescent Park Community Garden, one in my front yard and one in a container. I plan to double the number next year since I hear you can freeze them.

Susan Jensen/Ocean Park





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