It’s only just about to be fall and I am already looking forward to spring. But isn’t that the way it always is? As the mornings start to come crisp and cool, we know the snow is coming, too, and our minds turn to the dreams of spring that warm us through the long, cold months of winter.
This year, after past attempts that failed for various reasons (some our mistakes, some related to chickens), we actually managed to get some blackberry and blueberry bushes in the ground and see them survive. They are planted along the outside of the garden fence and enclosed with wire for protection.
It will be some time (years!) before those bushes are producing enough to be satisfying, though. What am I to do in the meantime? I need berries!! I need pie.
I was very excited after reading this post about ground cherries and chichiquelites, which go from seed to berry in one season and are also prolific reseeders, delivering more and more, year after year, but most especially delivering great satisfaction the first year.
Great satisfaction in the form of pie. These are sweet little fruits that can be used in all the same ways you’d use blackberries, blueberries, and other berries–for jams, jellies, pies, and more. Best of all, I can have a good harvest the first year!
And so I could hardly wait to get the packets of seeds even though I can’t plant them till spring. I can fondle them all winter and let them feed my dreams while I prepare them a place to dwell.
These are ground cherries. They aren’t “real” cherries–they’re actually akin to tomatillos, but can be used as cherries.
Photo by Sheryl Gallant.
After harvesting, leave the ground cherries sitting at room temperature until they are mushy over-ripe. Slit them open to remove the seeds if you want to save them. You can wash the seeds and dry on a paper towel to plant more! (Store cool and dry until planting.) If you’re not seed-saving, you don’t need to remove the seeds before using the fruit–the seeds are tiny and soft.
These are chichiquelites.
Photo by Sheryl Gallant.
Leave the chichiquelites on the vine until mushy ripe. If you want to save the seeds, squish them out to rinse and dry. As with ground cherries, chichiquelite seeds are tiny and don’t need to be removed otherwise before using. Chichiquelites are also known as garden huckleberries, which is how I shall refer to them henceforth because you can’t make me type chichiquelites again!!
I’m going to plant the garden huckleberries and ground cherries in one of our box beds. It’ll be a pie garden!
I have a plan. A plan, I tell you, a plan! Here’s my plan:
Do my drafting skills amaze you? I’m practically like an architect.
Wire all around the garden, with a hinged wooden frame on top to be lifted back and to open from the front. The chickens will be foiled!
Chickens love to get in box beds.
And chickens are hard to foil.
Unlike just draping wire over the garden as we tried with our other box bed this year, it will be easy for me to get in and out to the plants. This draping method was a real pain to deal with when it came time to get the herbs out of there. (And as you can see, above, it wasn’t entirely chicken-proof.)
The only thing I have in my future pie garden bed now is mint. And a bunch of weeds. I’ll tear the mint back some, but I like my mint, and I like it in a box bed where it can’t take over the farm. The garden huckleberries and ground cherries will have to learn to live with it.
I can’t wait!
Thank you to Sheryl-Runningtrails for her pie garden mentorship. She sells her seeds here at her Farm Store. (That’s where I got mine!)