So the way ground cherries work is, when they are ripe they fall to the ground and you gather them up, sort of like hunting for eggs beneath a very large hen. I have been watching all summer as the berries have clustered in their little Japanese-lantern paper wrappings. It promised to be a bumper crop. But surprisingly, they didn't seem to be ripening. I only found a handful of them lying beneath the leaves. I've been checking all summer, and zilch. So I figured they were just slow to ripen this year.
Well, frost hit and the bush withered and blackened, so I ripped it all out with a sigh. Better luck next year. Yesterday I finished putting the garden to bed (other than the kale and lettuce). As part of the annual routine, I lifted and stacked the wooden walkways that wander throughout the vegetable garden, so that they wouldn't rot under the snow. And guess what I found under the walkways?
Ground cherry paper wrappers. Dozens and dozens of them. Along with a few peanut shells. So it turns out the ground cherries were ripening and falling all along, but the mice were grabbing them before I could find them. Who knew we had mice? And who knew they were so fond of ground cherries?
Next time I will not make assumptions when things don't seem to follow the proper pattern. Though frankly, I don't know what I'd do about mice. Even if I wanted to poison them, I wouldn't want Brio or Maple to come across a poisoned mouse that has wandered away into the yard to die, because they're fluff-brained enough to consider it a snack. And somehow it doesn't seem right to kill a critter that's living in its natural habitat. I mean, I'm the one encroaching on its territory, not the other way round.
Besides, I can sympathize with their love of ground cherries. How can I get upset with them for a trait I share myself?
I fear I'm a lousy gardener. Between sympathy for mice and love of rabbits, I'm doomed to eating whatever paltry leftovers they leave me.