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luv2gro

Cape gooseberries

luv2gro
19 years ago

Hello from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I have an aunt in Huntly, N.Z. that sent me some cape gooseberry seeds that I really want to succeed.

I've posted in our Far North forum and we now have some questions as to exactly which plant this might be and whether it is hardy in our climates (zone 3a - Canada).

Can anyone fill me in on which species of Physalis Peruviana this might be and a bit more about its growing habits, taste, . . . any information that you can provide would be so appreciated.

My aunt used to send me these seeds when I was a little girl and I could always start them on my parents kitchen counter, but they would damp-off. I didn't know what that was back then and I now know how to prevent it. Auntie grew up on a farm in NW Alberta, -40°C some nights, and she swears they will grow here. (She's now been in N.Z. for, must be getting close to, 70 years). I believe her that they will grow here but just want to get as much info. as I can so I can put them in the right spot and know what to expect. I want to grow them without using hotcaps, cloches, mini greenhouses, without protection, if possible. I have a wonderful hot, dry spot in my yard with good south exposure. AND, if they volunteer seedlings next spring, so much the better.

I understand they are a delicious fruit and I so want to try them.

Thanks

Shauna

Comments (38)

  • Kiwi_oz
    19 years ago

    I have put in a link.
    Also there are some recipes on www.edibles.co.nz
    This plant grows like a weed in my place.
    Heather

    Here is a link that might be useful: gooseberry

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    19 years ago

    Hi Heather
    Thanks so much for posting
    Unfortunately, I can't seem to open the link. It seems to be in the www.crfg.org portion of the address; just stalls at that point on the full address and on that part of the partial address. Can you try again or let me know what the link is in a search engine.

    My aunt tells me that this plant grows like a weed at her place, too. I think we will have success, but I'm not sure about the hardiness over the winter. May be an annual that I will do every year.

    Thanks again
    Shauna

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    19 years ago

    Hi Heather
    Disregard my last post. I got the link open. Turns out I had already found that link. Can you just confirm for me that this is Physalis peruviana that we are both talking about growing in N.Z. That seems to be the confusion on the forum in Canada. We seem to be talking about 2-3 different species. I am saying that it is Physalis peruviana and I'm getting, I think, some information on other species, similar but not the same plant.

    Thanks for your help.

    Shauna

  • Kiwi_oz
    19 years ago

    I will scan a leaf and fruit and post them
    Heather

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    19 years ago

    That would be great. Thanks

    Shauna

  • vetivert8
    19 years ago

    Hello luv2gro

    I'm from further south where Cape gooseberries are not quite so weedy as they are up north.

    Treat them as you would tomatoes. Start them early and grow them on before planting out after the last frost. In our situations - they're annuals unless lots of extra care is taken - and it's not worth it. You'll probably get good crops from the younger plants.

    In your sunny spot they will probably grow to about three feet/one metre. They don't mind partial shade but tend to sprawl about somewhat. In the sun they don't need staking.

    Ordinary soil, not too rich, well-drained, and reliable water while they're growing on.

    They're ready for harvest when the little lanterns go brown. Split the papery brown husk and take out the berry. It should be golden yellow.

    They have a pleasantly acidic taste when fresh. If you plan to make jam, strain it to take out the zillions of seeds or anyone you know with dentures will Not Be Happy...

    If you leave some of the husks on the plant, even if it is cut by frost, the husk gives some protection (though maybe not to your -30F temps). The flesh decays and the seeds plus the paper container fall to the ground, or spill with the wind. They're quite late to start in spring, for me, because I still have the occasional light frost right up to November (May for you), so some years I don't get a crop.

    The flowers are a much softer yellow than those of tomatoes and look a bit like potato flowers. I personally have not experienced any problems from eating partly green berries - apart from a pucker, but orange is much nicer!

    They don't mind growing among other shrubs. I suspect that some early protection would increase your chances of success, too.

    Happy munching!

    PS - after all my twittering about orange berries - apparently they also come in a purple variety, but I've not seen those.

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    19 years ago

    Awesome post, Vetivert8. Thank you so much. This is very encouraging. I just peeked at my seedlings and they are just cracking their seedcoats tonight. Keep your fingers crossed and I'll let you know how they turn out. Wish me luck.

    BTW, Thanks for telling me about the berry color. Everyone here seems to think they are a golden yellow, but I seem to remember my aunt telling me many, many moons ago that they were orange. I'd forgotten that until you mentioned it.

    If you can think of anything else that I might need to know, please don't hesitate to post it.

    Shauna

  • vetivert8
    19 years ago

    Hi Shauna

    Folk who told you 'golden yellow' are far more correct than my 'orange'.

    BTW - if you do flower arrangements, or have friends who do, those Physalis papers have uses even after the goodies have gone. I suspect they're spray paintable because they're quite tough.

    V.

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    19 years ago

    Well, I have saved these posts to my file and I will post later in the season and let all of you know how my Cape Gooseberries turn out. Just watch occasionally, through your winter, if you don't mind, to see if I post with the odd question. Hope you have had a successful season. My cousin tells me that it hasn't been that nice a summer for you. We had a terrible one last year. I sure hope this one is better. Thanks for everything. And BTW, it is an interesting plant to put into flower arrangements, isn't it? I hadn't thought of spray painting them, tho. That's a neat idea.

    Shauna

  • erphy
    19 years ago

    zone nine here and they grow well..feost will kill them ...the seedlings are small and look weak but they are quiet hardy....I plant three seedlings together and stake them...they love old compost and liquid feed fortnightly but will do ok neglected too

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    19 years ago

    Thank you all for your replies. My seedlings are looking GREAT!! : D))

    I am just transplanting them up today. A few more questions? How many plants do I need for a nice "bed" of them? Do they grow as big as a bush tomato plant? If so, I'm thinking about 9 plants would give me a fair size bed and produce quite a bit of fruit? But, then, erphy, you plant 3 seedlings together? I've got 20/24 seedlings and will pot up 18, so I'll do 6 sets of 3 into a hole to accommodate the 3 plants?

    I am sooo excited. These seedlings REALLY mean alot to me to succeed with and they are looking so nice. Most of our snow has disappeared in this last week and spring is finally in the air. We have been having temperatures as high as 15°C (Sorry, I forgot if NZ is C or F) but this week we expect temps a bit lower, 1° or so as a daily high. Anyway, we are about 6 weeks yet, at least, before we can plant out.

    All of you have been wonderful to help me out with these. I really appreciate it. Looking forward to your replies on this next stage of growing them.

    Shauna

  • vetivert8
    19 years ago

    Hi Shauna

    Yes, about as big as a bush tomato - and with airspace.

    I'd be thinking 'depends' for the three seedlings together. If I was taking them directly from a tray of seedlings, I'd probably agree. However, you've potted yours on and know which ones are weaklings, which are not. Given that, keep going as if you were planting out bush tomatoes.

    If your weather goes pear-shaped on you (a minus in front of the 15!) keep a watch out for roots emerging from the pots and be prepared to pot on. IME, they have wide-ranging roots and spending time circling the pot is not going to help.

    (Come to think of it - if you have a spare bucket 2 gallon/9litre, you might want to pot one on to see if it will overwinter for you.)

    Water to get them established, then keep going as for tomatoes. I'd be wary about feeding, though. Light on the nitrogen and moderate on the slow organics. Well-aged compost does fine.

    There's a northerly gale having a blast - but that's better than southerly at this time of year. I've still got a window of opportunity to get my 'gardening at the extremes' set under some sort of shelter. And we do use Celsius/centigrade for temperatures - mostly.

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    19 years ago

    Vetivert8,

    That helps alot. Thank you. They are doing every so nicely in their 6 pack cells right now, but they are just about ready to pot up to 15 cm. pots. They are about 7-8 cm. high with huge leaves. I'm trying to get my greenhouse (indoor) rearranged so that I will have space to put them into the bigger pots.

    Just took a walk around my backyard. We are at +12 C today. On Wed. or Thurs. last week it got to +20, so we are definitely on the rise. I have pansies that I sowed last summer in a seedbed in my flowerbed that are just shooting up their first blooms. The trees are budding but a couple of weeks yet before they will bud out. A few of the perennials are showing signs of green and most importantly, ALL of the snow is gone.

    We had an early disappearance of the snow when I last posted in March but it came back with a vengeance and actually gave us more in three days than we had had over any three days all winter (about 20 - 25 cm.) but we really needed the moisture so it is not all bad. Canadian farmers, especially in Alberta (my province) and Saskatchewan, have had a really rough go of it with severe drought and grasshoppers the past couple of years. Now, many of the dried up bogs seem to be filled with water. Looks good. Now, if we could only get the borders to open up for our beef. I live in a large city but agriculture plays such a large part in our economy.

    Thanks, everyone for all of your help. I'll let you know how things progress after I get them planted outside.

    Shauna

  • vetivert8
    19 years ago

    Thanks Shauna

    Good to hear the wetlands are reviving. The Ducks Unlimited people will be pleased!

    I'm bringing things into drier places for overwintering - Lewisias and Auriculas particularly. We are definitely in a 'winter-wet' location. More room, more room!

    Hope to hear from you in May.

  • vetivert8
    18 years ago

    Are you up to flowers yet?

    I've noticed a couple of seedlings in the garden. Now the cooler weather is coming in it could be time for cloches and rain hats.

    Is the weather behaving at your end?

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    18 years ago

    We are just talking about starting to plant out. I've had the gooseberries hardening off for about five days now and have left them outside overnight for the last two nights. They are about 8" high already and looking really nice. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Yesterday was +25° but we are supposed to have a couple of +11° days this week - Tues. and Sat. I'll have to watch the evening temps. pretty closely. All the trees are leafing out and I've got 3 shoots (fairly skinny) of asparagus in my 1 year old bed. That's encouraging.

    I lost some pansies to sunburn on the weekend. I'd hardened them off for well over a week but they didn't like it at all going into the ground. So, I guess the soil isn't totally warmed up yet. At least it was "only" pansies but they still took up room in my greenhouse for quite a few weeks.

    The garden centres were pretty busy this weekend. The smart people getting the best selection. Our "May long weekend - Victoria Day" is coming up May 21 - 23 and that is our traditional gardening weekend in Edmonton. Always reminds me of an Indy race - "Start your engines". Those are the days you don't want to be at the garden centre. We might be able to get transplanting by the weekend, but I think we'll have to wait a couple of days past just to make sure - probably a week or two out from doing the bulk of our transplanting yet. My husband got most of the veg. garden dug so I will be concentrating on getting the seeds planted first while the flowers are hardening off.

    What are your temps. like? Getting lots of rain yet?

    I was just telling our Far North forum about the high numbers of mosquitoes that are out already. They are about a month early and really annoying. I don't remember them ever this early. So, I think the drought is over. Lots of water - lots of mosquitoes. We are getting public health warnings now about not leaving standing water in our yards - birdbaths, old tires, anything that collects water - to try to cut the spread of West Nile virus. Has it come your way at all?

    Shauna

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    18 years ago

    Well, it is now up to Mother Nature and possibly a bit of intervention from me. I got them into the ground today, all 18 of them. Don't laugh. I was thinking that if I put in 18 tomato plants, I would never be able to eat all of the produce from them. But, with the gooseberries, I don't know what to expect. Better too many than not enough! LOL!

    They look great - nice and stocky - and the roots were perfect. I'm hoping to buy a digital camera in the next few weeks, so I'll post pics. after I get it.

    Thanks again for helping me get this far.

    Shauna

  • vetivert8
    18 years ago

    Some time in October should be the start of the harvesting season. Will you need some weatherproofing/frost shelter to extend the season?

    And I've just read that the cabbage white butterfly likes to park in the gooseberries overnight. They don't do any harm, from experience, but it cuts the flying time to the brassicas in the garden...

    18! Wow! That's a good haul, indeed.

    I'm looking forward to your next jubilant posting.

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    18 years ago

    Thanks for the heads up on the cabbage butterfly. The only brassicas I put in this year is some brussel sprouts (first try) but I will still need to be diligent about the cabbage worms.

    My gooseberries are looking great, but I lost one to transplant shock. It just didn't take. All of the rest are showing new growth and coming along very nicely. We usually are OK until mid October, sometimes later. But, I try to plan on having everything done by the beginning of Oct. every year. That way, I have less covering up to do. Doesn't always work that way, but that is the plan.

    I haven't got my tomatoes into the ground yet. I'm still hardening them off a bit. Got the veg. garden planted and about 2/3 done with planting the flower beds. We are still a bit cool (mid teens to about 21°) but it is great planting weather. Peas came up in 3 days. Calgary is having a deluge of rain right now with flood watches in the southern Alberta region.

    I'll post when the gooseberries start to flower. Talk to you then.

    Shauna

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    18 years ago

    Well, thank you, everyone, for giving me all of your kind words of advice. I think I can claim success now. I have plant, flower and fruit. (Although, not ripe fruit, yet.) Maybe I should wait to "crow" when I get the harvest in. But I can't wait that long, so I won't. Here's my success:

    Plants (18 - they all matured)
    {{gwi:2111437}}

    Flower
    {{gwi:702946}}

    Fruit

    I know they look crowded but they really aren't. I think it is just the way the picture was taken. There is lots of sun getting through them.

    How wonderful when we can produce something with the help of people on the other side of the world. BTW, Vetivert8, thanks again for the advice on the cabbage butterflies. I had such a large number of them this year. And despite my efforts to row cover them, I still lost my brussel sprouts. Oh well, that's a learning lesson for next year. The sprouts will be covered at transplanting.

    My kiwi cousin is really laughing at me. He still gets the odd one popping up in his driveway and really can't understand my excitement in actually planting them. Each to his/her own, I guess. For us, they are a really different treat.

    How goes the winter? Is everyone starting up their greenhouses yet? I'm not too familiar with your seed-starting schedules but it would be just about time now to start tomatoes and the like or is it still too early?

    Shauna

  • vetivert8
    18 years ago

    You did it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now, please be patient until the little husks go brown.

    You can sneak a peek to check that the berries are going deep yellow by opening the bottom of the husk.

    If you have racoons at your place some protection may be needed.

    And I feel so proud to know you are now an accomplished grower of Cape gooseberries.

    Now, for next year - it might be worth checking out the seed catalogues for a variety 'New Sugar Giant' (jamberry) which is Bigger.

    Good on yer, mate! Congratulations, Shauna.

    PS I do like your picture of the flower.

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    18 years ago

    We've only had 2 pocket gophers in our yard (that we know of) and the cats have made supper out of them. No raccoons to worry about. But pocket gophers are quite partial to the small fruit crops and the wood. We had a bit of unwanted pruning on a cherry plum and a saskatoon bush in the spring. I will have to keep the cats diligent in their duties.

    Over on our vegetable forum, someone posted about "ground cherries". After a bit of discussion, she posted pictures of 'Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry' or Physalis pruinosa and I posted pictures of mine - Cape Gooseberries or Physalis peruviana. We decided that they are very, very similar but that there are rather distinct differences. The foliage is slightly different, the color of the flower is slightly different and the shape of the lantern is more elongated in cape gooseberries. I bet cape gooseberries taste better, too. LOL! But at least, after all of these months, I now know for sure that cape gooseberries ARE NOT the same as Aunt Molly's ground cherry (which I'm told are also very good).

    I e-mailed my cousin yesterday with the pictures and he will take the e-mail over to my aunt next week. He is probably getting a real good chuckle out of this but I know that my aunt will just be so pleased that we finally accomplished this project after 40+ years. I can just see her smiling when she sees the pics.

    Shauna

  • vetivert8
    18 years ago

    The pocket gophers sound very nice. Better than brush-tail possums cackling in the night and rarking up the dogs.

    Hope you enjoy the fruits of your labours - and got a great response from the family!

  • lilyred
    18 years ago

    I have a cape gooseberry plant and it is just flowering. May I know if I need to give it a slight tap so as to promote pollination? I have to do that with my tomato plants, I'm not sure if cape gooseberries will self-pollinate well.

  • greenfingers_ni
    18 years ago

    Hi Lilyred,

    I wouldn't have thought it was necessary - have you seen insects in and around the plants? I tried growing Cape Gooseberries for the first time last year - didn't do anything to promote pollination and had a great crop. Then again, there's no harm in giving nature a helping hand!

    Good luck,
    GF

  • lilyred
    18 years ago

    thanks, gf.

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    18 years ago

    Well, a bit of a set back on my gooseberries. Fantastic production (even with my DH hitting them with the lawnmower and snapping off about 5 loaded branches). BUUTT, we got an early frost. : ( I guess next year I will start them just a tad earlier and keep pinching them back.

    However, this was just a touch of frost and they are still viable, I think. Some of the lanterns have a few brown papery spots on them and the berries are big enough - just green. Can I pick them all and ripen them like green tomatoes? I do have a frost blanket to cover them but I don't get home from work until noon (weird 3 AM - 11:30 AM shift that I work).

    Must be starting to get nice in your part of the world? Planting anything yet?

    Shauna

  • lilyred
    18 years ago

    Sigh, I'm not getting any fruits.

    So far, I've had 3 flowers bloomed and despite my assisting them to pollinate by gently vibrating the plant, none of these flowers have produced fruits.

    Is it normal for the first few flowers not to set fruit? So, there's still hope yet?

  • vetivert8
    18 years ago

    Hi Shauna

    Could you rig a 'tent' over the plants and then drape the frost cloth? A grow-tunnel framework. If you had a portable cloche system tall enough for your 'bouncing babies(!)' now is probably the time to extend the season to the max.

    I know they'll ripen in semi-shade while on the vine; and it would be interesting to ripen them as you would for green tomatoes. I'm not sure what would happen to the brix, but it's worth the experiment.

    The first green peas are in and the lambs lettuce but we had a late frost the other day so I'm relieved I didn't jump the gun and put in lots of tender treats.

    Total aside, off thread: I over-wintered several Petunias. They looked miserable over the grey days but they've all bulked up and are in flower. They might end up as temperennials but I'm still feeling gleeful!

    Hi lilyred

    Could you provide any rain shelter for a while? All that daily rain tends to put off the bees and other flying insects. A sheet of rigid plastic at a slight angle to shed the water, placed directly above the plant but not touching. Then try your tapping procedure.

    Are you growing P peruviana or P ixocarpa?

  • lilyred
    18 years ago

    Thanks, vertivert8.

    Mine is peruviana. I grow mine in the balcony. It gets some sun, no rain at all. I don't see any natural pollinators around. Plant is very healthy-looking with many flower buds lining up to bloom.

    Just a week back though, I discovered many tiny little white things ( so tiny I can't see anything at all, except they are white, like a 1mm straight line, that's all). I killed them with insecticide, and there doesn't seem any damage to the plant at all. It is still growing well and healthy

  • lilyred
    18 years ago

    The white insects or whatever, they hide on the underside of the leaves.

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    18 years ago

    Thanks, vertivert8. I think I need to dust a few cobwebs out of my brain. Of course, that is exactly what I will do. Also, I was totally forgetting that the frost blanket is breathable and allows the sun and heat of the day in. This is my first year with it. I've always used old sheets and blankets before which had to be removed in the morning so that the heat of the day could benefit whatever it was you were trying to protect.

    As the queen of off topics - That's great about the 'tunias. I overwinter pansies, which most far northerners don't seem to be able to do but mine always come back. This year. I let them self seed and I have enough pansies to blanket my whole beds. I think I will have to do some pulling in the spring. LOL.

    Talk to you later. I'll let you know about the "green gooseberry ripening experiment".

    Shauna

  • vetivert8
    18 years ago

    Hi lilyred

    Hmm. Let me be thinking for a little.

    Hi Shauna (Queen of the Asides)
    You'll be s-o-r-r-y! But you also like pansies. I love the variations I get and the different little faces that pop up in the darnedest places. Those seeds travel far and wide indeed. I've had them arrive in a bonsai pot at least four feet above the culprit.

  • vetivert8
    18 years ago

    hi lilyred

    I went looking for brighter brains than mine on the issues you've raised.

    Jeff the plantsman suggested that you either use a camelhair brush to move pollen onto receptive flowers or lightly spray with water. You'll know the fruit has set when the flower drops and the calices start to develop to enclose the fruit. 2-3 months about. The little bugs are probably whitefly and many can be captured by using a pest strip suitable for a glasshouse - probably yellow, because they are attracted to this colour (apparently).

    Shauna: Jeff also warned that some folk find the green fruit a bit toxic. Possibly a little like green spuds, though they're not related.

    Sometimes it's so handy being a bear of very little brain! Nice folk tell me things. Thanks for being patient.

  • lilyred
    18 years ago

    Thanks for taking the trouble, vetivert8. By now, I've had 5-6 flowers already and none set fruit. I'm monitoring the situation and I shall try the hand-pollination method you suggested. Will keep you guys updated. Thanks once again!

  • lilyred
    18 years ago

    Ho Ho Ho. I think I am finally having my first fruit-set at last. Since the first 5-6 flowers yielded nothing, it has been a long wait for the next batch of flowers. While in the past, the flower petals would drop, then the crown or calyx yellowed and dropped a few days later with the stalks.

    Now, I'm having one where the petals have dropped, but the calyx and stalk have remained green and I notice the calyx has closed up looking like it is protecting the fruit inside. I don't dare to pry open for fear of damaging it. But it looks like the calyx (I really don't know what that should be called), which is now closed will grow to become the papery husk of the adult fruit later?

    oh, I'm so excited.

  • luv2gro
    Original Author
    17 years ago

    SUCCESS!!!!! After my second try, and a very hot summer, I am now seeing the fruits of this wonderful labour. And, what a wonderful fruit. I've got about 8 or 10 berries, so far, but there are many, many, many more to come. If we can hold out 2 more weeks, I should get at least a pie and a bit of jam. They are soooooo good. One of my sons tried one yesterday and thought it a bit on the sour side, but I'm finding them really nice.

    They are forecasting a bit of cooler weather for this weekend, with the possibility of snow. That's really early for us. It will be such a shame if we get an early killing frost. It is supposed to get really warm again after this cool spell. The weather has been so hot this year with many, many days above 30C. Summer 2005 only had a couple of those really hot days. Definitely, this year, I will be covering the gooseberries with my frost blanket. I was away for 2 1/2 weeks in late August and my tomatoes have bushed out of control. Not sure how many I'll get but I have to find them first. All in all, it's been a good summer with lots of learning going on this year.

    Hope all in kiwi country is going well. Thanks for all of the help in getting me familiarized with a new yearly "must have". BTW, you were absolutely right about the pansies. I'm not sure I ever want to see another one. Although, my self seeded space was very pretty and fragrant, it became a nightmare of pansies everywhere throughout my garden. I am going to be pulling for years to come. LOL

    Shauna

  • vetivert8
    17 years ago

    Hi Shauna

    That's GREAT news!!!

    I've been hearing about a product - something to do with red collars(?) a circle of red plastic that you fill with water to stave off the frost. Do they come in a size big enough to be helpful for the shrubs? If they don't, fleece it is.

    There's a chap in the South Island who grows 'organically' - and he uses bales of hay around the plants to be protected, topped with blankets from the op shop/thrift store to keep the frost at bay on tomatoes and similar. Two to three bales high - but not the big rounds... ;-) Straw might be better. Not so many seeds.

    This year I'd like to try the bigger version of Cape gooseberries. King's Seeds had tomatillo, I think. And I'll put them into sheltered places close to warm walls. The vegie garden is sited for the lettuces more than warm season plants, unfortunately.

    Meantime, I'm waiting for the tomato seeds to come through, and deadheading the daffodils. Noticing that there have been a number of sports among the daffs this year. Now, will I get there before the tags are removed by my avian associates - or not? (Most years it's gardener -0, Birds - lots. I'll have to get smarter.)

    Happy feasting and sauce-making.

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