Small orange fruit similar in size and shape to a cherry tomato. The fruit is covered in papery husk. Flavor is a pleasant, unique tomato/pineapple like blend.
Small shrub similar to the common tomato, can be grown as an annual or perennial. Plants are usually small, only 1-3ft in height.
Plants enjoy full sun, fairly warm (but not hot) temperatures, and protection from frost. In areas where frost or freezes occur, plants are easily grown as annuals.
Provide lots of water throughout the growing year, except towards fruit ripening time. Grow in most soil types and will do very well in poor soils and in pots. Plants are susceptible to many of the same diseases and pests as the tomato.
Cape Gooseberry seeds are usually fairly easy to germinate, though germination time can be a bit longer than other vegetable seeds.
1) Prepare for planting. Cape Gooseberry seeds should be sprouted in small containers, preferably 4" or smaller. In-ground germination is not recommended because conditions are not as easily controlled. Use a standard potting mix that is well drained. Make sure potting mix is damp prior to planting the seeds. With very small seeds such as Cape Gooseberry, watering overly dry soil can cause the seeds to dislodge from their position and sink deep into cracks in the soil. Seeds that sink deeply into soil will not be able to reach the soil surface once germinated.
2) Plant seeds. Plant seeds 1/4" deep in the soil. Cover with soil and water carefully. Over watering can cause fungal growth which leads to seed rot. Excess water can also bury seeds deep in the soil where they will not be able break the surface. Water when the soil surface just begins to dry. Multiple seeds can be planted in a single starter container, but should be thinned once seedlings appear so only a single plant remains.
3) Germination. Soil should be kept consistently warm, from 70-85F. Cool soils, below about 60-65F, even just at night, will significantly delay or inhibit germination. Hot soils above 95F will also inhibit germination.
4) Care of seedlings. Once a few true leaves have developed, seedlings should be slowly moved outside (if sprouted indoors) to ambient light. Care should be taken not to expose seedlings to direct, scorching sun so plants may need to be hardened off via slow sun exposure. Hardening off can be done using a shaded or filtered light location, as well as protection from strong winds, rain or low humidity. Hardening off time varies, but can take 5-10 days.
5) Planting out. Plant in the ground once danger of frost has past and daytime temperatures consistently reach 65F.
Germination time: 2-6 weeks under ideal conditions.
Uses are similar to common tomato. Can be eaten raw, used in salads, desserts, as a flavoring, and in jams and jellies. Fruits are excellent when dipped in chocolate, and can be dried and eaten.
Native to Brazil, but has spread to highland areas of Chile and Peru. Cape gooseberries have naturalized in tropical regions around the world (including Hawaii).