Husk tomato or ground cherry (Physalis spp.) is a member of the Nightshade Family (Solanaceae). The generic name is from the Greek for a bladder, in allusion to the characteristically inflated calyx ("husk"). Most Physalis species occur naturally in the Western Hemisphere. The forms of husk tomatoes in cultivation are usually ascribed to Physalis pruinosa L or P. pubescens L., but these species may be confused in gardens, and other species also may be involved.
Husk tomato plants are annuals growing 18 to 40 inches in height. They often inhabit sandy soils in nature. The fruit, which is the edible portion of the plant, is a berry completely enclosed in the thin, inflated calyx or husk.
The fruit may be eaten fresh-ripe, or prepared in a number of ways, including fried, baked, stewed, in meat dishes, soups or salads, or as dessert sauces and preserves. It is a common ingredient in Latin American cuisine.
Seeds are infrequently listed in catalogs. An improved form, developed from Guatemalan material by the Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station, was introduced some years ago.
Plant growing and general culture are much the same as for the tomato. In cool climates, starting the plants indoors or in a greenhouse and transplanting 6-week-old seedlings to the garden about 5 days after the average date of the last spring freeze should help in attaining a good crop. Like tomatoes, husk tomatoes will respond to favorable levels of soil fertility and ample irrigation.
The fruits begin to mature from mid-summer to late summer, turning from green to yellow and becoming somewhat soft during ripening. They are not adapted for long-term storage and should be used or processed shortly after harvest. Yields as much as 2.5 pounds per plant have been achieved. Ten plants should produce enough husk tomatoes to supply the average family.
Troubles will be similar to those afflicting tomatoes.
Martynia (Proboscidea louisianica [Miller] Thellung) is native to the Southwest but gardeners throughout the Nation who are interested in unusual plants grow it. The dried seed pod has an unusual appearance which accounts for the popular name "Unicorn Plant" and for the fact that several retail seed and plant catalogs offer seed. Dried pods are used in floral arrangements and as novelty items. Young immature seed pods can be pickled sweet like cucumbers.
Plant the seed 1/2 inch deep at 18-to 24-inch intervals in rows 3 feet apart. In Northern States start the plants indoors and set them out in the garden after frost danger is past. The plants grow about 18 inches tall and have a spread of some 30 inches. General cultural requirements are about the same as for okra.
Edible mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) are not easily produced in the home because of the exacting conditions required. Even so, mushroom spawn and culture kits are offered for sale by several retail plant and seed suppliers. However, a recently described method for small scale cultivation of mushrooms used for demonstration and class study provides a more certain way for the serious home gardener to grow mushrooms.
The reference to the article describing the method is: San Antonio, James P. 1975. "Commercial and small scale cultivation of the mushroom, Agaricus bisporus (Lange) Sing." HortScience. Vol. 10(5):451-458. Your library may have the article, or you can obtain a copy from the 0 Vegetable Laboratory, Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Md. 20705.
Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea L.), a popular home garden crop in the Southeast and Southwest, are unique among garden plants. Showy yellow flowers are borne above ground but the ripened ovary and seeds (peanuts) develop below the ground.
The peanut originated in South America, was carried to Africa and Europe by Old World navigators and explorers, and was shipped to America as on-board food for slaves. Peanuts are now grown along the East Coast from Virginia to Florida, and along the Gulf Coast to Texas and in all adjoining inland States. Gardeners hold the peanut with the same high regard as Southern peas, okra and butter beans.
"Chock full" describes the nutritional and energy value of peanuts. They can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed or roasted. Raw, cured peanuts are rich in vegetable protein and oil and contain 564 calories per 100 grams.
peanuts are divided into four general categories: Virginia, Runner, Spanish and Valencia. Virginia and Runner types are lame-seeded and contain 2 seeds per pod. Spanish and Valencia are small-seeded with the Spanish having 2 to 3 seeds and the Valencia 3 to 6 seeds per pod.
Peanuts require a long, warm growing season (110 to 120 days). They flower 6 to 8 weeks after planting. Following self-pollination and wilting of the flower, the ovary (peg) emerges and grows downward until it enters the soil and the nut begins to form.
Best soils for peanuts are coarse textured (sandy loams) adequately supplied with calcium and with a pH of 5.8 to 6.2. Add lime to soils with a PH below 5.8. Spanish types grow in both fine and coarse textured soils, but the Virginia types should be limited to coarse soils.
Plant Spanish types with a spacing of 4 to 6 inches in rows 24 inches apart. Virginia types need more room so plant them 6 to 8 inches apart in rows 36 inches apart. Plant only shelled seed. One-half pound of seed will plant 100 feet of row. Plant the seed 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep in coarse soils but only 1 inch deep in fine soils. Planting can begin about 2 weeks after the average date of the last killing frost in spring.
Prepare the garden soil completely before planting. All crop residues should be turned under in fall to permit decomposition. Do not plant peanuts in the same location 2 years in a row, to prevent build-up of diseases.
A soil test is the best means of determining fertilizer needs. Where the garden has been heavily fertilized for previous crops, you may not need to apply additional fertilizer since peanuts are good foragers. The young Peanut plant is sensitive to fertilizer burn, so spread any fertilizer applied over the entire planting area rather than putting it in the row.
A shortage of water when the plants are flowering vigorously and when the pegs are entering the soil will reduce the yield of peanuts. As harvest draws near, do not water peanuts. Any excess water at this time may break dormancy and cause the mature peanuts to sprout.
To prevent development of "pops" (empty pods) the soil must have a good supply of available calcium. On soils known to be low in calcium, sprinkle about 2 1/2 pounds of gypsum per 100 feet of row over the plants when they begin to bloom.
Cultivate the soil to control weeds and to keep the soil loose so the pegs can penetrate the surface. Once the pods are developing in the soil, cultivation without damaging the plants is almost impossible. Do not throw or pull soil to the plants while cultivating. Peanut plants are low growing; covering branches and leaves with soil kills leaves and interferes with flowering.
As peanuts mature the leaves will begin to turn yellow. Since flowers appear for several weeks, all the peanuts do not mature at the same time. If you delay harvest until the last formed pods are mature, the first-formed pods may rot or sprout or be left in the ground when the plants are dug.
Dig the entire plant and turn it over in the row with the peanuts facing up. Pull peanuts for boiling at digging time when they contain 40 to 50 percent water (the peanut inside of the shell will rattle). After several days under good drying conditions, moisture content of the exposed pods drops to about 15 percent and the plants can be moved to a warm, airy place and stacked for 2 to 3 weeks to complete curing before the peanuts are stripped from the plants. Some gardeners stack the plants around poles out in the open until the peanuts are cured.
several insects and diseases attack peanuts and reduce yields or kill the plants. Corn earworm, cutworms, fall armyworms and velvetbean caterpillars feed on the foliage while the whitefringed beetle feeds on underground plant parts. Leafspots and southern stem blight are among the most serious diseases.
Leaves infected with leafspots drop from the plants and result in "false" maturity and low yields and poor quality. Leafspot diseases can be controlled by spraying with recommended fungicides and changing the location of peanuts in the garden every year.
Southern stem blight (stem rot) attacks stems, roots, pods and pod stems. This disease is best controlled by turning under plant residues in fall so they have time to decompose, and by moving the location of peanuts in the garden every year.
Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke)