I grew wonderberries (Solanum burbankii) last year and was still picking fruit in December. The winter has been milder than usual but still not mild enough to keep the wonderberries growing, they are not frost hardy. Although some reports say they haven’t much taste raw, they make excellent jams. The ones I tasted were sweet but you do have to be sure not to eat berries with any green on them, they are poisonous when green. I was determined to grow them again this year but unfortunately labels got lost even though I thought I was more ‘on the ball’ this time, however, I think the ball must have rolled away.
My wonderberries grew and started to develop yellow flowers so this is where the ‘wonder’ comes in because I now wondered what seeds I had sown as the flowers last year were white. It was back to the drawing board and I pored over my list of seeds until I found it, my wonderberries were actually tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica). Tomatillos have the same characteristics to their close relative cape gooseberry, another member of the physalis family. There is however, quite a difference, tomatillos are round and green with a husk coating and quite tart, they are used in Mexican green sauces and apparently can also be used in jams.
I am not sure I could really be organised in the garden at all, it’s rather nice having little surprises especially when seeds you’ve sown have turned into something completely different. It’s not the only case of mistaken identity I’ve made this year, I sowed seeds of Mrs Burns Lemon Basil very early and tried cold sowing outdoors in a milk bottle. It was lovely to see the little green shoot appear but perhaps cold sowing didn’t do much for it and the one little shoot grew and developed it’s first true leaves. Rather than leave it for slugs and snails to devour as they were out in vast numbers this year, I repotted the tiny little plant and carefully nurtured it, making sure it was cosy in the greenhouse. I have another Mrs Burns Lemon Basil and soon realised my little plant was nothing like that, so it would appear my little chickweed has been a cuckoo in the nest.
It’s been a fight between slugs, snails and me about what survives and I would prefer them to stick to decaying matter and leave my produce alone. Desperation set in and I reluctantly used the blue pellets to get rid of those slimy little (and not so little) gastropods. I was careful to keep them away from the pond area but I learned too late, that the contaminated slugs have affected the frogs. I have only seen one frog alive and two dead and have no idea where the rest are or what happened to them. It will be the last time I use pellets though. I am very much against them but it was a rash moment.
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