The Goldenberry or Cape Gooseberry is a very easy plant to grow, needs very little care once its established, just plenty of room, sunshine and water. Give it a long growing season and you will be rewarded with delicious sweet but tart golden berries each wrapped in its own brown husk (which is not edible). Cape Gooseberries are very expensive to buy in the stores because they are time consuming to pick but for the home gardener who just wants enough for the family it’s an ideal plant to grow. The berries are high in vitamin A, vitamin C and some of the B complex. Grow as an annual in zones 7 and colder in colder zones. In warmer zones it is a perennial plant.
It is a spreading soft stemmed bush that grows as a perennial in zones 8 and warmer and is grown as an annual in colder zones (7 and above). Can grow to 6 feet during one season but 2-3 feet is more common and has a very sprawling habit. The stems are stiff, fleshy and brittle they easily break from the plant or snap if stressed. Stems branch readily and tend to sprawl outwards and down, stems are ribbed, often have a purplish tinge and are covered with fine hairs. The leaves are arranged almost opposite and are mid green heart shaped with pointed end, randomly toothed edges. They can reach 2 3/8 to 6 in long and 1 1/2 to 4 in wide and have a very velvety texture. Flowers are borne solitarily in the leaf axis, these are bell shaped up to 3/4 in wide, yellow in color with 5 dark purple-brown spots in the throat, and cupped by a purplish-green, hairy, 5-pointed calyx. After the flower falls the calyx expands to form an initially green globulur husk that is often much larger than the fruit inside. As it matures the calyx turns brown or straw colored and often falls from the plant. The fleshy berry inside is globular usually 1/2 to 3/4 in wide, glossy and orange in color. It contains yellow pulp with numerous small seeds. When ripe the fruit is sweet with an interesting tang, the husk is inedible. Large green fruits whose husks have begun to turn brown will continue to mature even if removed from the bush.
1. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
2. Put the seeds on the soil.
3. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
4. Water the seeds.
5. Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. The seeds usually take 14-21 days to germinate.
6. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.