This is my first year for growing ground cherries in the the garden. I was surprised at the size of the plants and that I had a bumper crop. I have tried to grow starts indoors from seed in years past, but never had good luck. I purchased 2 plants from a local nursery and had more than enough fruit for my needs. I think our investment in excellent soil and a location in the sun all day really helped too. Ground cherries are in the nightshade family. Imagine a large tomato plant that trails all over the ground instead of being held vertical in a cage. It was my first year for eating a ground cherry too. They are like a round golden grape in a paper husk. The taste is a bit like a tomato but more tart than acidic, a bit sweeter, with hints of some kind of tropical fruit. Ground cherries can be substituted in recipes that call for tomatoes or firm fruit. The following recipe is best when made from very fresh ingredients and consumed within 24 hours of making. Honestly this pico de gallo is so good that I pretty much ate it all by myself in one sitting just paired with chips. It goes well with shrimp or other fish in something like a simple taco.
Ground Cherry Pico De Gallo
2 TBSP of finely diced onion
1 medium orange tomato diced
2/3 cup of diced ground cherries
1 small mild green pepper finely diced
Pinch of dried coriander seeds
Pinch of mild red chile seeds
Pinch of cumin powder’
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 TBSP of finely diced fresh oregano leaves
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
As a member of the mint family Origanum/wild marjoram has its own aromatic essential oils. It is a common perennial found all over the world. Lots of small, ovate shaped, gray/green leaves grow oppositely on a single, downy, square stem (sometimes purplish). These are dotted with very small depressions. This plant grows about 24 inches high. Numerous, tiny ,two lipped white flowers ( with pink or purple tints) grow on erect, terminal clusters. Oregano often appears to grow as a bush shaped patch. It will thrive in just about any soil, tolerates drought, and prefers full sun.
Many older classic herbals leave this herb out as it is more known for culinary use in the US. If you wish to dig deep into the medicinal uses of Oregano you might consider resources originating from Hispanic cultures and countries. Here you will see it used for “cold invasion” or a more bile/pitta constitution. Oregano is gaining more popularity in the west for its antiseptic/antiviral and vasodilating properties. Historically this plant has been used to treat childhood illnesses, headaches, the flu, fever, colds, bronchitis, and asthma. It may help with digestive issues such as colic, gas, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, and parasites. Some herbalists have used it for problems related to menstruation, cramps, headaches, earache, insomnia, inflammation and high cholesterol. Externally it is used as a liniment, poultice, or compress for sprains, injuries, swelling, pain, itchy skin, animal or insect bites/stings, dizziness, and bruising. When inhaled as steam it can help clear and open the lungs, relieving a bad cough. In Hispanic cultures oregano is a popular remedy for conditions of a “spiritual” nature where it might be used in a ritual spray, bath or cleansing.
Energetics:pungent, bitter, warm, dry
Contraindications: avoid all but culinary use during pregnancy