Ground Cherry Salsa

So the ground cherries are falling on the ground ripe, but I can’t say that I am the biggest fan (Brian and Mika have no complaints though!)  They taste kind of citrusy and maybe a bit tropical, but aren’t really too sweet. They do resemble tomatoes and kind of have the same texture. Anyways, since I wasn’t about to eat handfuls straight from the garden, I did a bit of online research to look for recipe ideas.  I found a couple websites that suggested making salsa among other things (e.g., pie and compote).   I adapted a few salsa recipes so that it worked for what we had in the garden and it turned out well. I think it lasted maybe 10 minutes when I served it last week at a bbq 🙂

Here’s the recipe I ended up using:

  • 1 cup husked ground cherries. Cut them into halves or quarters.
  • 2 cups black cherry tomatoes (any tomatoes would probably do, but these ones were nice and sweet and worked well). Cut into eighths.
  • Half a super chili pepper (could add more if you like your salsa spicy, and substitute other types of chili peppers). Dice it up really small.
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced really small.
  • Juice of one lime
  • About 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

If you chop the tomatoes and leave them in a colander for about 1 hour the salsa doesn’t turn out too watery.  You can also throw the ground cherries and cilantro in the colander with the tomatoes and combine with the rest when you are ready to serve the salsa (I just had a bowl ready with the lime juice, hot pepper, sugar and salt and pepper and added the other ingredients to the bowl when I was ready to serve it).

We had the first three ingredients in the garden, but had to get the last few at the store (I didn’t grow cilantro this year because most recipes call for so much that I never seem to have enough in my garden anyways). I will definitely be making this again.  It takes us about a week right now to collect enough ground cherries off of the plants to make the salsa, but it is worth the wait 🙂

Here is a picture of the ingredients…

the halved ground cherries…

black cherry tomatoes cut into eighths…

…and the end result! (half eaten already because I almost forgot to take a picture!)

Also, some fun facts about ground cherries: In doing my online research for recipe ideas, I found out that ground cherries grow wild in certain parts of the world. Apparently in Hawaii they grow along roads.  And apparently they are likely to self seed in the garden if you don’t pick up all the ground cherries.  Right now that doesn’t really seem like a bad thing! The ground cherries we grew are called Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries, and apparently they originate from Poland and are good for colder climates.  Also, they don’t need staking like tomatoes, and we found that the plant we have in a pot grows great.  Highly recommend growing this plant in your garden!


New additions to the perennial garden :)

So despite having some plants on my wish list, I ended up with a few impulse purchases on a trip to Canadian Tire the other day.  Most of the plants were at least 20% off so I used that as justification 🙂

Here’s a summary of what I bought, with links to more info from elsewhere on the web.
Artemisia camphorata ‘Powis Castle’ – I did want an artemisia, so this one was kinda on the list.  It already looks beautiful in the garden and its gray leaves complement the lambs ears and spotted deadnettle.  I’m just a bit worried because although the tag on the plant says zone 2-3, the lowest zone rating I’ve seen online is USDA zone 4 and most say 6. I hope it survives the winter! It should also get a bit taller (up to 3 ft).

Campanula persicifolia ‘Grandiflora Alba’ – Also known as peach leaf bell flower, it is a June-July bloomer with very tall white flowers on a short compact plant.  Can’t wait for it to flower next year 🙂

Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’ – Also known as striped mallow, it has beautiful pink flowers with purple stripes on long stalks. Flowers from June to Sept, so I’m still happy even if Canadian Tire misled me on the zone for this plant as well.  It says zone 3 but according to most websites, its zone 6.  Apparently it rarely comes back the following year, but freely seeds (we’ll have to see if this is a good thing!).  I guess finding all this out afterwards is the price you pay for impulse buying.

Aster dumosus ‘Pink Bouquet’ – Supposed to get about 1 foot tall and be covered in pale pink flowers.  It’s already about 2 feet though, so maybe that’s with pruning.  Should hopefully bloom this year in the fall.

Veronica spicata – Also known as speedwell.  I have a dwarf version already, but wanted a bigger one for the garden.  Its supposed to bloom from June to Aug, and it has been blooming for 2 weeks now. The plant tag didn’t give the specific variety name, but it is supposed to get up to 60 cm tall so I think it might be ‘Blue charm’.

Geranium macrorrhizum Walter Ingwersen – Blooms in spring, and has bright pink flowers. Supposed to be good in the front of borders and as a ground cover. It supposedly turns a vibrant orangey red color in the fall as well.

Delphinium elatum ‘Aurora Light Purple’ – I wanted more tall plants, and this one should be a good one for the back of the flower bed to fill in some of the holes.  Its supposed to get up to 90 cm tall with big bushy blue flowers.  Although it supposedly blooms in early summer, looks like I might get some late summer blooms, but definitely not on 90 cm stalks!

And here are a few shots of the rest of the garden taken July 30.

Zucchini! (Veggie update – July 15)

This week we harvested the first zucchini of the season! It was pretty big and starting to turn green, so we figured it was ready to eat.  It was delicious – we cooked it in a stir fry and ate some raw.

We also tasted our first ground cherries.  They are pretty small right now when you take them out of their husks, but sweet and delicious just like candy:). And we now have some purple beans which are also quite good.  They are smaller than the scarlet runner beans and the yellow wax beans we had last year, but the color is amazing. They weren’t as prolific as most beans I’ve planted, so might need to plant a fall crop somewhere else in the yard.

And in other gardening news, the tomatoes are starting to ripen with all the 30 degree+ weather we’ve been having and the pepper plants are starting to produce peppers.

Perhaps the most entertaining thing is that Brian decided to build a protective cage around his rubarb plant, because Mika has stepped on it a few times.  The size of the cage is the amusing part… He really thinks it is going to grow to that size this season.  I think it might take a few seasons to get to that point though ;)Oh well, we can use the cage to hold extra leaves and compost this fall 🙂

Here are some pics from this week. If you click on the pictures you should be able to view them in a larger size as part of a slide show.

Update on the Perennial Garden – July 7

The new perennial garden is looking good.  Unfortunately I haven’t kept up with the pictures to track its progress though! I don’t have any pictures of the rose blooming, but it did have a lot of fuchsia flowers in early June.  The Royal Candles Spike Speedwell and the Perennial Sage Salvia Nemorosa Marcus also flowered, as did the White Bloody Cranesbill (hardy gerananium) and Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum ‘Pink Pewter’).  The peonies didn’t flower this spring, probably because they are a very early blooming plant and I planted them too late in the year.  Right now though, the hydrangeas are blooming and they look great. As good or better than I expected.  I am glad I went with the Annabelle Hydrangea instead of the Endless Summer Hydrangea.  It turns out that I like the white flowers and that it is a bit bigger.  Also, it was a third of the price :). It looks good next to the Red Monarda, which is also blooming.

I am keeping my eye out for deals and discounts at garden centres so that I can fill in some of the gaps.  I also am trying to track when there’s not a lot in bloom so that I can find new plants that will bloom when the plants I already have do not.  So far on my list for early July are daisies and phlox.  For fall, I am thinking about asters.  For more silvery foliage I am debating Russian sage (or something smaller).  I suspect that next year it will fill out more as well because the plants will be more established.

Veggie update – July 7

So its been a while since I’ve last posted anything.  We were away for a couple weeks and we spent the previous weekends vacation planning instead of gardening:)

Our gardens have exploded in the last few weeks.  At least it felt like it when we walked into the backyard when we got home from our vacation.  I unfortunately only have one pic taken right before we left for vacation.  It is a pic of my garden.  Here’s a before shot and some after shots:



The tomatoes grew a few feet, and the tallest on opposite side of the fence are probably between 4 and 5 feet. Before we left my tomatoes were looking kinda small and pathetic compared to Brian’s because I planted them quite deep, but they seem to have caught up.  Some of the turnips in my garden are also ready to eat, and the purple green beans are just starting to flower.


Brian’s veggies have also grown exponentially – the yellow zucchini in particular.  Brian’s getting some zucchinis in his garden already.  His tomatoes, ground cherries, cucumbers and peas are also looking good.  We now have some snap peas that are ready to eat in Brian’s garden and the back garden, and have been munching on those.   Here are some pictures of his garden:


In the back garden we have a lot of lettuce and kale.   I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of the arugula early in June. We had a lot of it, but either we weren’t eating it quickly enough or it got too hot, because it went to seed before we left in mid June.  The spinach did poorly again this year.  Just a few small leaves and then it went to seed.  Disappointing since it was planted quite early and we did a good job of watering it this year.  Maybe its just too hot in Ottawa for it, or we need to find some super star variety to try.  Before we left I ripped out what was left and planted more lettuce instead.  The lettuce tastes quite good and we’ve already made a few salads with it. Here’s a pic:


Here are some photos of the potted plants on our patio.  The tomatoes have only a bit of damage from bugs, and they seem to be doing quite well.  Maybe a little wilty from the heat (hopefully nothing more serious).  We have tomatoes, peppers and ground cherries starting to form, and we really want them to ripen soon so that we can try them.  The ground cherries in particular turned out to be a good potted plant.  Relatively compact and doesn’t need support, and the fruit are interesting to look at.  Definitely something we will have to plant again next year.  I have to admit that Brian’s impulse buy turned out quite well…


And last but not least, we owe a big thank you to Patricia and Lars for looking after things while we were away! There were a couple heat waves while we were gone, and the plants definitely wouldn’t be looking so great without their help!


Here’s one last picture of all three gardens:)

Videos on pruning and training climbing roses

I’m quite excited about my new John Cabot Explorer rose, which can apparently be trained as a climber.  I wanted to find out more about how to prune and train climbing roses, and my research let me to the following vidoes from AshdownRoses. Now I just need my rose to grow some longer so I can start to train it!

Pruning & Controlling a Climbing Rose

Training a Rose on a Trellis

Pegging a Rose

How to Pillar a Rose

And an inspiration photo of a John Cabot Explorer Rose growing on a trellis.

Article on Ground Cherries

Brian randomly picked out some ‘Aunt Molly Ground Cherry’ seeds while we were at the garden centre a while back, and they seem to be doing quite well.  It turns out that they are well adapted to our climate, having originated in Poland.  This article on the Canadian Gardening website had some good tips on growing ground cherries, so thought I would link to it. Looking forward to tasting this unique plant 🙂

Here’s a picture of one of Brian’s ground cherry seedlings, planted last weekend.