Ground Cherries: A Unique Flavour

ground cherries

Have you ever tasted ground cherries? To me, they taste like a cross between a grape and a cherry tomato. Hubby used to eat them as a child and encouraged me to plant some this past growing season.

What are Ground Cherries?

FoodPrint describes ground cherries as follows:

The ground cherry, also called physalis or cape gooseberry, is a unique fruit. With its papery husk, it looks like a small, orange tomatillo, but its flavor is uniquely sweet: to our palate, a mixture of pineapple, strawberry and green grapes — sweet, tart and vaguely tropical.


To me, they look like miniature Chinese lanterns.

Plants vs Seeds to Grow Your Own

I was unable to find plants but did manage to order some seeds to start indoors. Unfortunately, as most of my seed ventures are, these were not prolific. Of two seed packets, each containing lots of tiny seeds, I managed to cultivate three plants. The squirrels and chipmunks did not help, every time we looked, they were digging up the seedlings that did manage to survive the process. We moved the last pot indoors when we saw a chipmunk scurrying off with one of our almost-ripe ground cherries. You can tell I don’t spray my plants with herbicides or pesticides. To deter bugs from moving into the house too, I sprayed the soil with hydrogen peroxide often.

ground cherries

My Verdict on Ground Cherries

I love the taste of these tiny, unique fruits but they are lots of work to grow your own. Perhaps I will start looking for plants earlier next spring to get a head start on growing some. And, find a way to deter the chipmunks and squirrels from feasting on them before we can.

Sensitivity to the Sun

sensitivity to sun

Unfortunately, I’ve spent most of the summer trying to self-diagnose my sudden, (more than usual), sensitivity to the sun. Not a great summer-time memory to experience.

Rashes and Burns

My face in particular has suffered through several bad rashes. So bad that it appeared (looked and felt) that my skin was burned.

I’ve also experienced a prickly sensation, but no visible rash or burn, on the left side of my neck, between my jaw and my clavicle. This prickliness occurs after a mere few minutes in the sun, even with sunscreen on.


I have been a huge proponent of sunscreen over the years, wearing at least 30, if not 50 SPF. I learned this the hard way, after developing brown spots on my face in the last trimester of my last pregnancy. I was told they were due to melasma, AKA pregnancy mask, a hormonal reaction. That was twenty-six years ago, and they were supposed to go away, but I have yet to find anything (topical) to remove them. Due to my uber-sensitive skin, I hesitate to try anything more drastic.

Since then, I have applied sunscreen religiously every morning, 30 SPF on cloudy/rainy days or those I don’t plan to be outdoors much. When I am planning to be outside for longer than thirty minutes, I opt for the 50 SPF.

After my first reaction, I asked the staff at my local Natural Food Pantry for a recommendation for sunscreen for sensitive skin. I purchased the So Good brand in both a cream and a stick. If your skin is sensitive, choose sunscreen that does not contain benzophenone-3, known to cause allergic reactions in some people.

I love how smoothly the So Good sunscreen applies to my skin, even though it has zinc in it (zinc is notoriously sticky to apply). I still experienced a rash and prickly neck after switching sunscreens though. I will continue to use it as I don’t believe my sunscreen was the issue causing the sensitivity to the sun. You can purchase both the 30 and 50 SPF through Amazon as well.

Face Moisturizers

My moisturizers were also suspect, even though I had not changed my routine. After the first episode, I switched to a product also recommended to me at the Natural Food Pantry to moisturize and heal my skin.

sensivity to the sun
Nature’s Aid Moisturizing Skin Gel

This moisturizing gel has worked wonders on my rashy, burned skin. I love it. You can order Nature’s Aid Moisturizing Skin Gel through Amazon if Natural Food Pantry is not convenient.

Foods That Can Cause a Sensitivity to the Sun

Research ( told me there are several foods that can cause sun sensitivity, with citrus fruits at the top of the list. Other culprits include:

  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Figs
  • Fennel

Well, it just so happens I had recently started adding celery and lemon peel to my morning smoothies, for their purported memory and anti-aging benefits, respectively. The plan is to leave the celery and lemon out for a few weeks to see if I have any more reactions.

Fingers crossed!

Magnolia Scale, Yikes!

magnolia scale

A while ago, when trimming off a few lower branches, I noticed sticky stuff dripping from my magnolia tree. Upon closer inspection, I saw blackened leaves, as well as a black residue on my white veranda rails and porch. Next came the swarms of hornet-like bugs attracted to the sugary residue. What a mess! Apparently, my tree is infested with magnolia scale, as described by the University of New Hampshire:

Magnolia scale feed on plant sap with piercing-sucking mouthparts and excrete a sweet, sticky fluid called honeydew. Unsightly black fungus called sooty mold often grows on the honeydew, making the leaves look dirty and reducing photosynthesis. Honeydew also attracts sugar loving insects such as ants and wasps.

University of New Hampshire

The Stages of Magnolia Scale

Instead of laying eggs, the adult female magnolia scale insects give birth to young crawlers, which then molt into adults sporting a waxy, outer soft shell that protects their bodies. If you discover whitish patches on the branches of your magnolia tree, that would be the time to treat the tree. Otherwise, the tree will suffer greatly.

Treatment for Magnolia Scale

Treating the scale insects at this stage is easiest. My magnolia tree is not yet fully grown so I can still reach all the branches, especially when standing on my veranda. I used another of my trusty Melaleuca products, a concentrated solution of thyme and lemon, called Solugard. I coated each white patch and sprayed the veranda and railing. I may have to repeat the treatment, will keep you posted.

You can also prune out infected branches and twigs if there are not many involved. Most of my branches are so that was not an option. Another solution is a pesticide specifically for the magnolia scale; you probably know what I think about pesticides.

Also suggested is a late April (before the buds open on the tree) application of dormant horticultural oil such as neem oil. This early treatment will kill the magnolia scale insects that have overwintered on your tree.

A cold winter helps too. Our last few winters here in Ottawa have been unusually mild so more of these insects survived on the branches.

Bring on the cold, just not yet please. We have several more months until I am ready for that weather, hoping for another beautiful autumn first.

Before the Magnolia Scale

I will be heartbroken if this gorgeous tree does not survive. Fingers crossed I caught the scale in time