Ground cherries advice needed
I am growing ground cherries for market for the first time this year and they are just starting to produce. I'm growing Aunt Molly's and the seeds are from Territorial. We are having the most consistently warm season in my gardening memory and the plants look fantastic. They are at least three feet tall and four feet wide in the the row and loaded with fruit. I have maybe forty row feet. I'm selling them in heaped half pints for three dollars. Last week I just had three boxes and this week a dozen and they sold easily. With that many I haven't given out samples yet but when people show interest I say "Go ahead and try one". Here's my concerns:
1. They are so small! Mostly marble sized. I hope they will get bigger as the season progressed. Tell me they'll get bigger?!
2. They are so labor intensive. First I crawl through the bushes scooping up fallen fruit, then I sort through them before putting them in a container to go to market, then I sort through them again when I box them up at market. How do you guys handle the harvest?
3. Should I store them (picking the day before market) in the produce cooler or at room temperature? Will they keep their quality if I hold them over to the next market?
4. I'm pretty sure I can sell them all at $3/half pint but I'm concerned that they are not worth the effort. Do you feel that they contribute to the overall bottom line (such as that is for us market farmers!)?