Ground Cherry: Chinese Lantern (Physalis Alkekengi)
Soil Preparation & Start Indoors
Harvesting & Storage
Culinary & Medicinal
Native Range: Southern Europe, South Asia, and Northeast Asia.
Also Known As: Bladder Cherry, Japanese Lantern, Strawberry ground cherry, and Winter Cherry.
Ease of Growing: Moderate
Grown as: Annual
Days to Maturity (Bloom): Summer & Fall
Hardiness: Tender. Frost sensitive.
Crops: Spring Transplant
Growing Season: Short, Long
Growing Conditions: Cool, Warm, Hot. Ground cherries like the same conditions as Tomatoes, and enjoy lots of sun. They will not survive if there is a frost, but will survive in mild winters. The tops die off in cold temperatures, but the roots will continue growing.
Outdoor Growing Temp: 65°F - 90°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 75°F. If it's warm enough for tomatoes to grow, it's warm enough for ground cherries.
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: No
Light: Sun: min. 6 hours daily (Warm, Hot). Ground Cherries prefer full sun.
Water: Moderate. Tomatillos and Ground Cherries are quite drought tolerant, but for best fruit production they should be watered regularly.
Feeder: Light. Generally, Ground Cherries are independent plants and don't need a lot of attention. Give them a feed of compost tea or liquid kelp when the flowers first appear.
Suitability: Drought tolerant, High heat
Small Gardens?: Yes
Containers?: Yes. A large container (12" in diameter, or more) is best - or even a large wine barrel.
Attracts beneficial insects?: No
Forage: Rabbits. Fruit only, leaves and stocks are toxic!
Plant Height: 18"
Sow Depth: 1/4"
Produces: an 24” plant that bears beautiful white flowers that are later replaced by lantern shaped green seed pods that will turn an amazing reddish/orange color.
Soil pH: 6.0-6.8, Ideal 6.3-6.5
The ideal soil is a well-drained, moisture retentive loam, with lots of organic matter.
Standard Mix, 5 pounds per 100 sq. ft., in top 6" of soil, 1 time: Incorporate standard mix into the soil along with compost in the top 6" of the soil.
- 4 parts cottonseed meal (this is high in nitrogen and relatively inexpensive)
- 2 parts colloidal phosphate or bone meal (for phosphorus)
- 2 parts wood ash or 3 parts greensand or granite dust (for potassium)
- 1 part dolomitic limestone (to balance pH and add calcium and magnesium)
- 1 part kelp meal (for trace elements)
Mix these together thoroughly. You can do this all at once, or you can store them separately and mix as needed.
Compost (Nitrogen), 2", in top 6" of soil, 1 time: Incorporate 2" of compost into the top 6" of soil before sowing or transplanting.
Soil temp for germination: 60°F to 90°F, optimal 80°F to 85°F, optimal 84°F
Total weeks to grow transplant: 8 to 9 (Spring/Summer), (Fall/Winter)
1 weeks after Last frost date: Before transplanting outside you must harden the seedlings off, so they become acclimated to somewhat less than ideal conditions.
If the weather is cool at transplanting time, you can warm up the soil with cloches or black plastic.
Cool, Warm, Hot: Ground cherries like the same conditions as Tomatoes, and enjoy lots of sun. They will not survive if there is a frost, but will survive in mild winters. The tops die off in cold temperatures, but the roots will continue growing.
When outdoor temp: 65°F to 90°F, optimal temp 70°F to 85°F
When min soil temp: 75°F. If it's warm enough for tomatoes to grow, it's warm enough for ground cherries.
Spacing: 18.0"-24.0", (1 per 2'x2') plants per sq ft. These sprawling plants can get quite large. Space 18 to 24" apart.
Water Needs: Moderate. Tomatillos and Ground Cherries are quite drought tolerant, but for best fruit production they should be watered regularly.
Fertilizer Needs: Light. Generally, Ground Cherries are independent plants and don't need a lot of attention. Give them a feed of compost tea or liquid kelp when the flowers first appear.
Watering, regularly: Water, 0.5", regularly, 2 times. Ground Cherries grow best when they receive about 1" of water each week. Watering depends on your local weather; don't water if it's raining, or water more frequently if it's dry. Just be sure to keep soil moist for the best crop, but never water to the point of sogginess. The best way to know how much moisture is in your soil is to feel 2" below the soil line. If it's dry, water.
Side Dressing, at flowering: Compost tea, foliar feeding, at flowering, every 2 weeks. When the plants set flowers, give them a good spray of compost tea. Repeat two weeks later.
Fruits ripen to a pineapple yellow.
Storage Temp: 55-65°F
Storage Length: 0-14 days
You can water bath can ground cherries when making salsa or jam.
Storage Req: Canning
Storage Temp: 60-70°F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
To get the seed, simply squeeze the pulp from the ripe fruit and mix with water. Allow to settle, and the seeds will sink to the bottom. Drain out excess water and pulp and allow seeds to dry. Store in a cool, dry place.
Seed Viability in Years: 4 - 7 years
Germination Percentage: 75%
Small berries have a tart yet sweet taste, similar to pineapple.
The Ground Cherry is most often used in jams and other sauces, but can be eaten raw or in a salad, or dried and eaten like raisins.
Fruit: raw or cooked. Rich in vitamins, with twice the vitamin C of lemons, but not much taste. Another report says that they are juicy but with a bitter acrid flavor, whilst another says that they add a delicious flavor to salads. The fruit is a berry about 17mm in diameter. The plant conveniently wraps up each fruit in its own "paper bag" (botanically, the calyx) to protect it from pests and the elements. This calyx is toxic and should not be eaten.
Young leaves: cooked. Caution is advised, the leaves are almost certainly poisonous, at least when raw.
Known Hazards: All parts of the plant, except the ripe fruit, are poisonous.
Basil: Cinnamon (Ocimum basilicum)
Cinnamon Basil is a Mexican cultivar with decorative, purple-flushed foliage, light pink flower spikes and a distinctive cinnamon-like aroma! Use fresh or dried leaves in your cooking! Popular for use in herbal tea and potpourri! Attractive foliage and blooms also make this a valuable ornamental addition to your herb garden! Full size plants range from 18-30" tall by 12-18" in width. Average water needs.
Basil: Clove Scented (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil: Italian Large Leaf (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil: Lemon (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil: Lime (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil: Purple Ruffles (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil: Spicy Bush (Ocimum basilicum var. minimum)
Basil: Sweet (Ocimum basilicum)
Broccoli: Green Sprouting Calabrese (Organic) (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
Broccoli: Purple Sprouting (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
Broccoli: Waltham 29 (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
Brussels Sprout: Long Island Improved (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera)
Cabbage: Early Jersey Wakefield (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
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Cabbage: Late Flat Dutch (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Cabbage: Red Acre (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Cabbage is considered one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, since historians trace it back to 4,000 BC in China. The Romans also cultivated it and praised it for its healing qualities; philosophers Pythagoras and Cato both made the lowly cabbage the subject of a book. Jacques Cartier brought the first cabbage to America in 1536. Cabbages were quite popular in colonial America, being pickled and preserved in every possible way to provide food for the winter.
Cabbage, Chinese: Pak Choi (Heirloom) (Brassica rapa var. chinensis)
Carrots: Chantenay Red Cored (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Cosmic Purple (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Danvers (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Rainbow Blend (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Scarlet Nantes (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Tendersweet (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Cauliflower: Snowball Y Improved (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)
Chives: Garlic (Allium tuberosum)
Chives: Onion (Allium schoenoprasum var. album)
Collards: Vates (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)
Kale: Lacinato (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea - Acephala Group)
Kale: Ornamental (Hybrid) (Brassica oleracea - Acephala Group)
Ornamental Kale provides amazing color from early fall well into winter with frilly green outer leaves and pink, white or purple centers. As the rest of the flowers in the garden are dying down, Ornamental Kale is just getting started!
Kale: Red Russian (Heirloom) (Brassica Oleracea - Acephala Group)
Kohlrabi: Purple Vienna (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)
Marigolds: Naughty Marietta (Tagetes patula)
Marigolds: Sparky Mix French (Tagetes patula)
Marigold: White (Tagetes Erecta 'Kilimanjaro')
Commonly called African marigold, Aztec marigold, American marigold or big marigold, is native to Mexico and Central America. Big marigold may be the best descriptive name because plants are noted for their large flowerheads. They typically grow from 1-4’ tall and feature huge, mostly double-globular flowers (2-4” diameter) in various shades of yellow, orange, and whitish. This variety is unaffected by high summer heat and generally blooms throughout the summer.
Mint: Horse (Monarda fistulosa)
Mint: Lemon (Monarda citriodora)
Mint: Mountain (Pycnanthemum virginianum)
Mint: Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium)
Mint: Pepper (Mentha piperita)
Mint: Spear (Mentha spicata)
Mustard: Black (Heirloom) (Brassica Nigra)
Mustard: Red Giant (Heirloom) (Brassica juncea)
Mustard greens originated near the Himalayan region of northern India, where they have been growing for thousands of years. Chinese, Japanese, and African cuisine also make use of this peppery vegetable. Though not particularly well known in most parts of the United States, mustard greens are a traditional part of culture in the southern region.
Mustard: Tendergreen (Heirloom) (Brassica rapa var. perviridis)
Nasturtiums: Empress of India (Tropaeolum minus)
Nasturtiums: Jewel Mix (Tropaeolum minus)
Onions: Cipollini, Red (Heirloom) (Allium cepa)
Red Cipollini, also known as Borettana, are heirloom Italian onions that were first cultivated in the 1400's in the town of Boretto, Italy. They have been known as “poor man’s onion” and “little onion” as well. Even though these sweet flat onions are tiny, they are a specialty produce that packs a strong flavor raw and get sweeter when cooked. These onions are perfect for grilling, pickling, or roasting.
Onions: Cipollini, Yellow (Organic) (Allium cepa)
Yellow Cipollini, also known as Borettana, are heirloom Italian onions that were first cultivated in the 1400's in the town of Boretto, Italy. They have been known as “poor man’s onion” and “little onion” as well. Even though these sweet flat onions are tiny, they are a specialty produce that packs a strong flavor raw and get sweeter when cooked. These onions are perfect for grilling, pickling, or roasting.
Onions: Evergreen White Bunching (Heirlooms) (Allium fistulosum)
Onions: Ruby Red (Heirloom) (Allium cepa)
Onions: Sweet Spanish White (Heirloom) (Allium cepa)
Onion: Sweet Spanish Yellow (Heirloom) (Allium cepa)
Onions: Walla Walla (Heirloom) (Allium cepa)
Walla Walla onions are native to the Pacific Northwest where they were developed by Peter Pieri in the city of Walla Walla, Washington in the early 1900’s. Washington State has also made this variety their State Vegetable due to the popularity of its mild sweet flavor and crispy.
Parsley: Hamburg Rooted (Heirloom) (Petroselinum crispum var. tuberosum)
Parsley: Italian Giant (Heirloom) (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum)
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Pepper, Hot: Anaheim Chili (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Greek Pepperoncini (Organic) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Habanero (Heirloom) (Capsicum chinense)
Pepper, Hot: Hungarian Yellow Hot Wax (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Jalapeno (Organic) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Long Red Cayenne (Organic) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Serrano (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Tabasco (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Sweet: Banana (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Sweet: California Wonder 300 TMR Bell (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Sweet: Chocolate Bell (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Sweet: Jimmy Nardello Italian (Heirloom)
Jimmy Nardello peppers are known best as frying peppers though they are just as flavorful when raw. This variety of pepper was originally from Basilicata, a southern region of Italy. It takes its name from Jimmy Nardello, who inherited it from his parents Guiseppe and Angela Nardello, who brought the seeds from Italy while immigrating to Connecticut in 1887.
Pepper, Sweet: Purple Beauty Bell (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Sage: Blue (Salvia farinacea)
Sage: Broadleaf (Salvia officinalis)
Broadleaf sage (Salvia officinalis), also called culinary sage, produces aromatic foliage suitable for kitchen use. The attractive. broad, gray-green leaves remain lush throughout summer, and the plant forms attractive blue or lavender flowers in early summer. Sage grows reliably as a perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 4 to 8, but it can be enjoyed as an annual in other climates. The bushy plant complements both herb gardens and ornamental beds while providing a summer-long harvest of leaves.
Sage: Clary (Salvia Sclarea)
Sage: Kitchen (Salvia officinalis)
Sage: Meadow (Salvia Pratensis)