Growing Cape Gooseberry

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How to Grow Cape Gooseberry

The Cape Gooseberry, the botanical name being Physalis peruviana is a native of South America, and does well in most warm and temperate climates. Cape Goose­ berry is also known by the name of Strawberry or Husk Tomato, Chinese Lantern plant and Ground Cherry. It is related to a large number of edible plants, including tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes.

The Cape Gooseberry plant size, as a perennial, it develops into a diffusely branched shrub reaching 1–1.6 m (3.3–5.2 ft) in height, with spreading branches and velvety, heart-shaped leaves.

The Cape Gooseberry is grown for its fruit, which can be either eaten raw or made into jam or conserves. The sweet fruit are encased in a papery husk that turns brown letting you know when the fruit are ripe. The fruit are the same size as a cherry tomato and can be eaten fresh straight from the vine, made into goosebery jam, or into fruit or even savoury salads.

Cape Gooseberries are very easy to grow. Gooseberries do well in semi-shade or full sun. They need protection from cold winds and late frosts.

How to grow cape gooseberry from seed

The plants do best in a light, rich soil. The ground must be well trenched and properly broken up, any manure necessary being thoroughly incorporated with the soil during the operation. Sow the seed for early plants in a seed box or hot bed or in a sheltered bed in the open for the main crop. When large enough to handle and thoroughly hardened off, transplant the seedlings in rows 3 feet apart, allowing 3 feet between the plants in the rows.

Do not transplant to the open garden too early as they prefer a warm climate. When the young plants have made a few inches of growth, pinch out the leaders and early shoots so as to induce bushy growth. If necessary, repeat this operation occasionally during the first few weeks after planting. Keep the soil loosened between the rows as well as between the plants, and cultivate to destroy weeds.

Cape gooseberries are self-pollinated but pollination can be improved by a gentle shaking of the flowering stems. After pollination the fruit takes 70 to 80 days to mature.

The raw fruit should not be eaten until it is perfectly ripe. Fruit required for later use can either be dried in the sun or preserved.

If you are short on space Cape Gooseberries grows well in a large pot.

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