Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cape Gooseberries 'Aunt Molly'

Okay, I just finished off a bowl of the marketed name "golden berries" with my coffee. They were the plate of gooseberries I entered in the county fair in their neat natural papery individual wrapping. I entered them in the category "other vegetable not listed above". In this category, there were some nice looking green beans (wax beans being the traditional bean category), and rhubarb. I lost out to the nice looking green beans. I don't think the judges awarded the couple of rhubarb entries any placement.

If I was choosing gooseberries or beans for breakfast, my choice would be the gooseberries. If the judges had actually tasted the beans and the gooseberries, they may have agreed, especially if they has tasted them as part of Sister-in-Law's gooseberry pineapple (gluten-free) crumble!

This leads me to my next thought, everyone grows green beans. Green beans are plentiful in the shopping aisles. Try finding some gooseberries.

I can understand the reasons why gooseberries are not commercially produced. With their low, ground-hugging branches and fruit that is ripe when it falls to the ground; harvesting them mechanically is a beast. This is all the more reason home gardeners should include them in their backyard (or front yard) gardens.

In their papery husks their shelf life, literally just sitting in a bowl on the counter, is 2 to 4 weeks. What other garden veggies, other than squash and pumpkins, can make that claim?

They are so sweet, they easily fill that void for annual fruit in the garden. Raspberries, grapes, and apples take time and some expertise to get going. Cape gooseberries are easier than tomatoes.

Sister-in Law and I have a few ideas about how to make harvesting quick and easy which we will try next year in the family garden. No, we aren't going to hang them in the Topsy Turvy Tomato bags. We have found growing them next to eggplant and potatoes keep the Colorado potato beetles at bay. And, as there are no selected cultivars, I may attempt some seed selection based on size of berries (typically about 3/8" of an inch in diameter) or branching formation. The plants I grew this year came from seed saved from the two cold hardiest of our plants. Last year we had what we thought was a killing frost on May 26, 2011. Two plants grew back out of the twelve we planted. Last year, they were half the size of the behemoths that loved the heat this year.

So looking for something new for your garden? Look no further!


  1. I'm tempted, but can they take any shade? And do all the varieties have those husks?

  2. All tomatillos have the husks. There is only the one cultivar (and I am not so sure it isn't just the species given a name by Jung's) of the cape gooseberry. I have some growing in about 6 hours of sunlight and they are a quarter the size. What might be possible is to grow them quite well in a larger pot.

  3. They are also called Ground Cherries. The cultivar called "Aunt Molly's" is an excellent one. It has a flavor similar to pineapple- only not acidic. There is also another variety i have read about called "Cossac Pineapple", though i've never tried it.