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Growing Ground/Husk Cherries for the First Time

DMW May 12, 2010 07:24 AM

I am going to grow ground/husk cherries this year and have the seedlings growing inside right now along with my tomatoes (I'm in CT). I've done some searches online about growing these and my question is about support for the plants. My garden isn't too large and I am a proponent of trellising/vertical growing whenever possible. Can I grow the husk cherry in a tomato cage just as I would with a cherry tomato? Or is the plant really too short for that? The info at Johnny's (where I purchased the seeds) says to grow without support but I would prefer to limit sprawl.

Any suggestions are appreciated!


  1. a
    Ambro May 13, 2010 09:49 AM

    I grew them last year and will again this year--yes they are really short, more horizontal than vertical. They don't exactly sprawl like squash--they are just kind of wide and I don't know what you could do about that. Cages would not help. However, they don't take up that much space--I added photos online (google "Urban Farmer's Makeshift Moshav Blog"), you'll see photos of three plants in a bed about 5 feet long. I put stakes around the bed, ran string all over, and had biodegradable planting paper underneath, in an attempt to keep the branches up off the ground. In Seattle, branches off the ground=less disease. Now I'm in Brookline, MA, going to put a couple in a raised bed at the housing project up the street. If it was my own place, I'd prefer to run a trellis of mildew-risistant string horizontally about 3" off the ground, to keep the branches off the ground.
    One thing about these is that once they get going, you have to keep picking a little every day--shaking the plant is best, when ripe they are ready to fall off easily (unlike tomatoes). Good luck!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ambro
      DMW May 13, 2010 10:24 AM

      Thanks so much for the response. I was starting to despair that no one on chowhound had grown husk cherries before. Perhaps I will try a low horizontal trellis as you suggest.

      1. re: DMW
        kevin47 May 13, 2010 04:51 PM

        We did two plants last year. One grew straight up, almost like a tomatillo, the other grew out more like a bush, and actually grew under the cage. The latter was more productive (about 200 fruits vs. 50), though the first got hit hard by potato bugs (watch carefully for these... they'll eat everything in about 18 hours) so it's hard to say.

        I would make some effort to keep the bottom branches off the ground. By the time the fruit ripens, it is often ready fall off the branch. It's a tough fruit to eyeball, and there is nothing worse than an under-ripe ground cherry. A little distance will make it easier to pick up the fruit after shaking the plant.

    2. d
      dreamernowdoer May 13, 2010 05:15 PM

      Hey there! I grew these last year (I'm in zone 5b in Michigan and I grew the Aunt Molly's variety, from seed savers exchange - I'm sure Goldie is very similar) and, because I'm also a fan of vertical gardening and overall space-saving, I just threw mine in a large container to save room in my beds...plus, I didn't know if I'd even like the taste (which, eh, was ok). Even through one of the worst summers I can remember weather-wise, it did great in the container and was a really easy plant to care for. The fruits drop off when ready to eat and, while one bush didn't produce enough for making jam, I had enough to eat a handful every day. I'm not growing it again this year because I didn't love the flavor, but I am trying another love-it-or-hate-it one in its place - Sunberry. We'll see :) HTH and good luck!

      p.s. - It's really a pretty little shrublike plant - the "lanterns" are kind of exotic-looking - you could plant it in your landscaping beds if you have more space there.

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