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Old February 13, 2012   #14
Petronius_II's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Albuquerque, NM - Zone 7a
Posts: 209

Just wondering... are there any purple ground cherries?
Physalis is a rather large genus, with a whole lot of species that are all pretty similar to each other. The common tomatillo is the most frequently cultivated species.

The little purple tomatilloes (Purple Mitla is a named variety) are, for all intents and purposes, a purple ground cherry (if you overlook the fact that the plant is more upright and less sprawly than most Physalis species,) and an unnamed purple tomatillo is the only Physalis I've ever grown successfully. As everybody says, they're very productive once they finally start cranking out fruit, but astonishingly slow to ripen. I suppose the old "put 'em in a paper bag with a banana" trick that works so well with other fruits would have helped here.

I still have some very old seed of Kitazawa's "Giant Poha Berry," a Hawaiian variety ( ) that was an easy germinator for me back when I bought the seed. Unfortunately, some of Albuquerque's giant cockroaches had taken up residence in the greenhouse that spring, and my tiny little seedlings made a great snack for them, none for me.

Tomatoes and peppers, the cockroaches tended to munch just one seedling, and then realize they didn't like the taste. I suppose they must have some way of telling all their buddies about these things; one seedling per species, then no more. Unless they like it. Giant Poha Berry they like.

If I can still get that GPB seed to germinate, I may try starting it in a different part of the house this year, and figure out some way to keep the giant cockroaches away.

Poignant Aside #3872-A: I won't use poisons (except for mouse bait) because the spiders, and the competition from the giant cockroaches, keeps the little German cockroaches from ever getting out of hand, and those guys reproduce so quickly, they can go from a handful to a mighty nation within a few days, given the opportunity.

Pesticides would give them that opportunity. I've lived in apartments that I fumigated to get rid of the German cockroaches, and within three or four of months, the survivors have been back, stronger than ever.

Last summer, a 13-striped lizard (too fast to catch, too cute to kill if you did) found his way into the house and upset the balance of nature enough that the German cockroaches were just starting to get out of hand. But the lizard must have left at some point, and things have quieted down. Good.

I love spiders. I don't bother them, they don't bother me. The giant cockroaches are too big for the spiders to eat, but they're a lot easier to tolerate than those nasty little German doobies. Cheap entertainment, too. Very satisfying to crrrr-unch them with a quick swat of the shoe when I catch them out in the open. Go to sleep, and the corpse is gone. Who hauled it away? The spiders, of course.

(Why do I feel like Ruth Stout is looking over my shoulder as I write this? This is very much the kind of story she'd have written, if she'd ever lived in Albuquerque.)
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