(Solanum sp.) Solanaceous fruits like cocona, pepino melon, and huckleberry may have varying appearances, but they all belong to the nightshade family. Solanaceous berries are closely related to tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, and they largely have the same growing needs. Solanum fruit are heat loving and detest the cold. The Latin name of the family solanaceae translates to "sun loving," and indeed all garden berries prefer to grow in full sun. Germinating solanums will require a heat mat or very warm, sunny area as the ideal germination temperature is 78-85F. Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost date. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep. Seeds will germinate in 7-21 days. Keep seeds reliably watered until they germinate. Spacing will depend on the exact solanum that you grow. Typically between 12-24 inches apart is best. Provide rich, well-draining soil and regular watering. CAUTION: Unripe solanaceous berries can be toxic.
Alpine Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) Wild or alpine strawberries are native to Europe and have been appreciated since the Stone Age. The fruit is small compared to modern cultivated types, but the intense flavor tends to be very rich, and they are super sweet. Germination of the tiny seeds is actually easy in proper conditions. Growth may start out slowly, as the seeds are so tiny, but the plants are very hardy. A harvest may be had the first year from an extra-early indoor sowing. Cold stratification speeds germination. Ideal germination temperature is 65-75F. Surface sow seeds and cover with a very fine sprinkling of soil as light aids germination. Alternatively you can direct sow the seeds right around the time of last frost. Though they seldom make runners, wild strawberries may be multiplied easily by dividing the plants in fall or spring. They also are ever-bearing, yielding throughout the season. The berries are very high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, and they taste so good!