Garden Fruit and Berries

(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!

 

COOK IT! Strawberry Recipes HERE 

GROW IT! Strawberry Growing Tips HERE

Astonishing Alpine Strawberries Blog HERE

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Litchi Tomato or Morelle De Balbis
GR112
$3.50
Rating:
72%
(S. sisymbriifolium) The most intriguing garden berry we have ever seen, and with superb creamy and mild cherry flavor. A totally unique fruit, it is delightful to imagine litchi tomato into myriad culinary interpretations from mock cherry pies to chutneys and pickles. Its Latin name is Solanum sisymbriifolium, but it goes by many aliases, Vila Vila in Latin America, litchi tomato in the U.S and in France, Morelle de Balbis. It is a favorite fruit here at Baker Creek and has even been seen growing in the home garden of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. While the alien like plants may seem like a new innovation, litchi tomato was celebrated in seed catalogs of antiquity as an exotic and delicious fruit. The 1896 Wilson’s Seed Farm catalog featured a plant referred to as (Solanum anthrophagorum) it was described as a bright red fruit that lends well to pies and sauces. The Wilson’s catalog also told of the fruit being used as a condiment for a cannibals meal of human flesh in Fiji. Botanists believe the litchi tomato to be native to South America, yet early accounts mention it as a plant growing in the islands of the South Pacific. Large plants grow to 5’ and are covered with thorns; sweet red fruit and large white flowers. Lovely to look at, but be careful with the thorns! The fruit is about the size of a cherry and taste like a cherry crossed with a tomato. A very pretty and attractive plant that originated in South America, but has been naturalized in many countries. You can grow litchi tomato just as you would grow regular tomatoes.
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