Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Little presents

One of the first thing my small daughter asks when visiting Debbie on garden group days is... “Can I have a little present?” What she is actually referring to is a cape gooseberry. She and her slightly older brother absolutely love them. They spend the entire time while we are there making regular trips back to the bush for another little present. Everyone I have seen try one seems to agree they are quite delicious. I would describe them like a cherry tomatoes that bursts in your mouth with a passion fruit flavored explosion.

The reason my daughter calls them little presents is that they are wrapped in a loose package that when the fruit inside is ripe goes crisp like paper. Getting to the fruit feels just like unwrapping a present. Which seems to add to the enjoyment of the whole experience.

The first photo above shows what they look like a little under ripe, the second a little over ripe. I did want to show you one when perfectly ripe, but do you think I could find one after the munchkins had got to em. So you are just going to have to image it glossy like the first but bright orange like the second.

I also think they look like a string of Chinese lanterns with the way they hang down from the branch, particularly in this photo with the water feature in the background. But they are not from China instead they are indigenous to South America but due to being heavily cultivated in the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) they now often go by the name "cape" gooseberry. Unlike the name suggests the plant is not related to others varieties of gooseberry. It belongs to the Solanaceae family along with the tomato.

Back at our first garden group meeting Debbie gave us a cutting that has been growing slowly in a pot waiting for us to decide where it will be permanently planted. It seems to do well in Adelaide's climate and Debbie’s always has an abundance of fruit. As you can see ours has its first little presents. How exciting!

Have you ever tried one?


  1. I've been tempted to try these, but wondering if they were worth the space. If little munchkins like them then they must be pretty good!

  2. I have never had a cape gooseberry but it looks like a good addition to the edible hedge I am working on. I love the idea of 'presents'. I bet it makes you feel great when the kids pick and eat!

  3. I haven't really heard of them. Would they grow in Melbourne? How big do they get? They sound intriguing.

  4. I've heard of them but never seen them.


  5. 500m2 I wouldn't rate them higher than a other more common berries like blue berries for taste. Don't misinterpret me they taste great. But if you are pushed for space and you have to choose it wouldn't be my first choice. Compared to other berries they do seem to have some advantages though. Possibly because of the wrapping I haven't seen any evidence of bug attacks on Debbie's. I also seem to have a longer shelf life.

    Hazel yes it does give me a warm feeling inside when kids pick and eat.

    dirtandflowers Melbourne is slightly cooler than Adelaide so I think they would grow fine for you. I would say Debbie's plant is just over meter in height and width and I think fully grown.

    Frogdancer no worries, that's what I am here for... sharing.

  6. These don't survive frosts so have to be treated as annuals where we are. They rarely return after one of our winters. Kept in a pot they could be moved to a warm spot for winter.
    I prefer the taste of the pineapple flavoured ones "Cossack Pineapple" Physalis pruinosa available from Phoenix seeds.
    Some more info...
    If growing from seed both types need light to germinate so just leave on the surface of the growing mixture.
    Cape Gooseberries grow to 1.5m spaced 50cm apart.
    Cossack Pineapples grow to 50cm spaced 30cm apart - these tend to sprawl rather than grow up.

  7. We were given 3 plants by my South African sister-in-law as a "farm warming" present. We planted them out and they sprang to life and started growing wonderful little lanterns in no time. Just when they looked ready to go, a horrible tiny slug like thing got to them and began gobbling up all the leaves. We had a friend around from a neighbouring property about that time and he had a look and thought the fruit was largely untouched, so we helped ourselves to lots of little presents, and he was quite right. Delicious! I hear they make good jam if they ever get to the kitchen.

  8. Scarecrow as always thanks for your expert contribution. Knowing whether a plant is frost tolerant is quite important. Luckily for us here in Adelaide suburbia frost is seldom a problem. Oooo the pineapple ones sound good.

    Energiser Bunny sorry to hear you plant was attacked. How is it doing now? I don't think mine will ever make it to the kitchen to become jam.

  9. I love mine!! But the chooks always seem to get there first...

  10. Once you have them you have them for ever, at least over here in WA. Hubby hates them, says they are nothing but a weed but that is why I like them. Not too fussed on the taste but the chooks love them, they are easy to grow, hard to kill...they're staying!


  11. Jason, the plants are looking scraggly but the pressies are still coming....so we can live with that!

  12. Mrs Bok oh, those chooks of yours.

    Barb so yours have self propagated. They must like your garden or just enjoy annoying your husband. With them growing like a weed shame you are not that fond of the taste. Always the way though. At least they are free food for the chooks.

  13. My beetroot seeds arrived yesterday! Thanks so much! The packaging looks great.

  14. Frogdancer Phew! It is wonderful to know they have arrived safely. You put them in those big red metal boxes and rely on total trust what happens after. Also wonderful to hear you like the packaging. I spent along time sourcing the most environmentally sound option I could. As a result ended up with a ruff and earthy look.

  15. I am also fond of gooseberries,they taste just awesome! It's an advantage your having for having a garden full of these since your kids love them!
    Your Garden Personality
    Which type of garden goes with your personality?

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