Ground Cherries and Heirloom Tomatoes

Posted: March 16, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,
It’s time to begin planning our garden. This year, in keeping with the idea of a “neighborhood garden,” where we each plant what we grow well, I’m going to focus solely on tomatoes and ground cherries. Last year, both did well, while my eggplant and cucumbers did horribly. The zucchini started strong, but for the second year in a row rotted by mid-June. The only part of our yard with adequate sun is, I’m afraid, nearly wetlands for most of the summer, which is great for the tomatoes and ground cherries, but lousy for everything else.
I’m hoping to do lots and lots of ground cherry starts this year, so if anyone would like to try these in their garden, please just let me know.
One of last year’s best producer was the Cherokee Purple, which has a lovely color and a very sweet flavor. The Speckled Roman also did well, and is truly stunning — like something from Van Gogh’s “The Sower” might have planted. We had an over-abundance of cherry and grape tomatoes, so this year I plan on putting in only one Mexico Midget plant. It’s so prolific, that it produced more than the other three small/tiny varieties we grew last year together. The fruits also hold up better than most, holding up both on the vine and in the fridge for over a week after ripening.
For slicing tomatoes, I haven’t found anything to beat the Gold Medal. I’m planning to triple the number of these plants this year, because I suspect they are also very good for making mild, sundried tomatoes that can be used all year round, and I expect they’ll be a favorite of our neighbors!
All of our seeds come from Seed Savers. At the “Just Foods” dinner, Linda Yoder told me a horrible story. According to Linda, we intentionally targeted seed banks in Iraq, and have since forbidden the distribution of seeds by local farmers in the interest of protecting the “copyrights” of big companies like Monsanto, who have been introducing chemically dependent, genetically engineered seed into an area that has traditionally not been a big market for international agribusiness. My research since “Just Foods” hasn’t turned up much information on this, but if anyone would know this, it’s Linda. It’s really deepened my commitment to heirloom and non-patented seed varieties. The idea that farmers must purchase seed each year, rather than gathering and preserving it from their own stock, is just… well, more than wrong. Muddle-headed, maybe. Or evil. Any more, I find it hard to tell the difference when talking about governmental policy. I’d like to believe we’re just incredibly stupid, since the other choices offer such little hope for a better future.
  1. Ellie O'Leary says:

    Sarah, what are ground cherries? Are they a type of tomato? I want a Mexico Midget plant now. I hope I can find one here in New England.

  2. sarahemc2 says:


    Ground cherries are a type of tomatillo. They are wonderful! They make fabulous pie — I use an old Mennonite recipe called “Pie By The Yard” I’ll send you if you grow some. AND they grow wonderfully in New England! You can get plants or starts from SeedSavers, my all time favorite seed catalog/do-gooder organization/group of nice folk. You can also get the Mexican Midget there, either as a start or as seed!

    Happy Gardening!

  3. Ellie O'Leary says:

    I’m on to Seed Savers!

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