The One Plant You HAVE to Grow With Your Kids This Season
My daughter has been helping and playing with us in the garden since she was just a wee babe. And in the last five years, we’ve had kids of all ages (with 52 first cousins that tends to happen in my family), experimenting and having fun beside us in the garden. During that time, there has been one plant that has stood out above the rest. One plant has captivated the hearts, enthusiasm and tastebuds of every. single. child. Drum roll please…THE GROUND CHERRY (Physalis pruinosa)!
I know I got you all pumped up with the drum roll, but you still might be scratching your head and wondering what exactly a ground cherry is (I’ve also heard them referred to as Pichuberries). It’s not actually a cherry at all, but a small and orange/ gold fruit in the tomato family. However, it is sweeter, tastier, and has other factors that make it the best all-around, inspirational gardening plant for kids.
Why The Kids Heart It
1) It Comes In Its Own Wrapper
Ground cherries are one of the few foods that come with its own papery wrapper, which places them in the exclusive category of finger fruits and vegetables alongside bananas, oranges, and peas. The wrappers keep the fruit clean (no washing required), are fun to peel off, don’t have to be disposed of in a land fill (just compost them or throw them on the ground, and portable (put a few in your pocket for later – but not too much later!).
2) It’s Pint Sized
Ground cherries are just the right size for small hands and mouths. With a diameter the size of a small grape, these are the perfect bite-size snack. They do not require cutting or pealing, so kids can just pick and eat them right away.
3) Scavenger Hunt
These fruits have the unique characteristic of turning yellow-gold and falling off the plant when they are fully ripe. This means that children are in the best position to find and collect the fallen fruit. If they are still a bit green, keep them at room temperature for a few days until they turn yellow-gold.
4) It’s Yummy
The best part of ground cherries is their unique sweet-tart taste. My daughter eats them by the handful raw, but they also lend themselves to a wide range of diverse recipes. They can be used for jams, pies, over ice cream, roasted with vegtables or fresh fruit salads. If you can hold off the kids long enough to save some, you can try these:
5) Kid Tested, Parent Approved
Ok, so maybe the kids don’t care about this, but I know you do. It is good for their (and your) health. The ground cherry is a nutrient dense ball of flavor. The fruit contains two times the quantity of vitamin C as lemons, and is a rich source of in vitamin A, B vitamins, phosphorous, calcium, iron, potassium, thiamine, and riboflavin. Having a healthy and nutritious soil for these plants to grow in will provide an even more nutritious fruit.
Win Some Ground Cherry Seeds!
I really want to see these in your garden, so I’m giving away four packets of organic* ground cherry seeds (50 seeds per packet). Share with your friends, scatter them around the neighborhood or hoard them and become a ground cherry baron. To enter is simple – just use the Rafflecopter form below to increase your chances of winning. Giveaway closes on Friday, April 3rd!
*We buy our seeds from Seed Savers Exchange which promotes heritage, organically produced seeds. Find Them Here.
Growing ground cherries is very similar to growing tomatoes. If you can grow tomatoes, you throw in a few ground cherry seeds for the kids. They are a warm weather, long season plant so if you are planning on planting them this year, there is still time but you do have to get started soon! Here are some directions to get you started .
Ground cherries are also one of the small group of fruits that are native to the United States. For thousands of years, these plants have been nourishing people and animals lucky enough to have found them growing wild along forest openings, streams and trails. There is no need to worry about these plants becoming an invasive species!
Ok, that’s all I’ve got today garden friends. What are your favorite things to grow with your family?
Your Woman Gone Wild,