Everything there is to Love about Cape Gooseberriesby Jane Chitty
Cape Gooseberry is the name given to this plant that I grew up with when spending many years living in Africa. But this delicious little fruit has other names too!
Depending on where you live, they are known by all these different names – ground cherry, poha berry, strawberry tomato, husk tomato, gooseberry tomato, Peruvian Cape gooseberry, purple ground cherry and of course the proper name of Physalis edulis.
This small, smooth round fruit is wrapped in a papery case that resembles a Chinese lantern. They have a delicate sweet-sour taste – sort of a cross between a gooseberry and a cherry tomato.
The seedlings can take a little while to get off to a good start, so be patient with them! Keeping their soil warm will help so put the seedling pots somewhere nice and warm if possible. A layer of plastic wrap or similar over the top of the seedlings to hold in moisture and heat until they sprout will be very helpful.
Cape Gooseberries are very happy in a large container. I have an old oil drum cut down to a third of the size which is the perfect fit. While they do need to be watered regularly, they are not especially thirsty plants and prefer a well drained soil.
As they are sun loving, place your container in the sunniest place and you will get the best possible crop if their initial soil is rich and full of plenty of compost. Plant the seedlings deep in the rich soil, making sure to leave at least three sets of leaves above the ground.
As they can get leggy, stake them early on in their development.
Possible pests and diseases?
Cape Gooseberries are generally healthy with few issues of disease or pests.
Depending on the variety you choose, you will usually begin to see fruit between sixty five to ninety days after being transplanted. Cut down to ground level once you have harvested all the fruit and you may be lucky in that they will come up again next year.
Pick and enjoy!
Cape gooseberries make excellent jams, jellies and purées, can be used in exotic fruit salads, pavlovas or roulades, or simmered in water with a little sugar and used in fruit pies or crumbles.
The fruit itself is a pretty orange-gold colour and can be unwrapped and eaten as is, or dipped in melted chocolate and served after dinner with coffee.
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