Fruit is healthy, and Cape gooseberries are healthy, but unfortunately they are not cheap when you buy them from us. If you like to nibble on the physalis and also find it so beautifully decorative, you could also simply grow the delicious decorative fruits yourself in the garden or on the balcony. Cape gooseberries are actually quite problem-free, here you can find out the most important facts about cultivation, care and wintering.
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The cultivation of Cape gooseberries
You can get seeds for Cape gooseberries in every well-stocked seed shop and on the Internet, but you can also simply extract them from the fruit. For example, use a toothpick to remove the small, soft seeds from the cape gooseberries on your dessert (which you usually eat with you), clean them up a little and let them dry.
You should sow these seeds as early as the beginning of February, the seedlings have to bloom as early as possible so that the fruits can ripen in our latitudes.
The seeds are sown in normal potting soil, the very fine-grained seeds are not covered with soil, but only moistened so that they adhere to the soil. The seeds should be moistened evenly, but the soil must not get too wet.
It is best to place the nursery pots in a small room greenhouse, on a sunny window sill over a normally warm heater. The sun should provide the necessary warmth, but too much direct sun that burns through a south window could damage the seedlings again, an east window would be ideal. If water droplets form on the window panes, the humidity is too high, then you should ventilate.
The seedlings may show up after a few days, but it can take weeks, so be patient. They should get as sunny a place as possible and be isolated as stronger young plants with the appearance of the second pair of leaves. You can carefully shorten the roots, then they will branch better.
After the ice saints (mid-May), the young plants can be planted outdoors, where they should be placed at a distance of approx. 80 cm.
Taking care of the physalis
In the garden, too, the Cape gooseberries should have a sunny location, for the now somewhat larger plants it can be full sun. Also some protection z. B. by heat-reflecting and wind-blocking house walls is gladly accepted, in a sunny corner, for example, a Physalis will certainly thrive particularly well.
When watering you should be quite attentive, the Cape gooseberries really need a lot of water, they develop shoots 1 to 2 meters high in a short time, which should be attached to a support. The Cape gooseberries are quite sensitive to drought, you should never let them dry out, mulching helps to keep the moisture in the soil.
If the Cape gooseberries grow in normal garden soil, they do not need any fertilizer, which could even be harmful: If the nutrient content is even a little too high, the Cape gooseberry will always develop more shoots instead of flowers, and you need them if you want fruits to develop. With the commercially available concentrated fertilizers, over-fertilization is much too quick.
Cultivate annual or perennial
We usually only cultivate the Cape gooseberries as an annual, because overwintering is a bit of a hassle and the plants bear fruit without any problems in the first year after sowing. The seeds will usually germinate just as easily, and they will grow quickly enough if you sow early enough.
If you live in a cold region where it is already difficult for the fruits to ripen in season, you could root cuttings instead of sowing last season’s Cape gooseberries and overwinter them. This is also a solution for everyone who would like to cultivate the Physalis for several years, but has no place to overwinter.
Because in their homeland, the Cape gooseberry grows for several years as a small shrub with a maximum height of about 1.5 meters.
Overwintering of the Physalis
Unfortunately, this home is in South America, and the Cape gooseberry can only hibernate outdoors in growing countries where it is significantly warmer than here.
If you want to hibernate Cape gooseberries with us, you have to transplant them into a tub before the first frost and move them indoors; they can be cut back to about a third. The wintering place should be bright, the evergreen physalis continue to grow and only slightly lower their metabolism in winter. The best temperature for wintering is around 15 degrees, which could be found, for example, in a cool warm house (room) or in a heated staircase or in a hobby room that is kept cool.
If you live in one of the friendlier regions of Germany: There should be Physalis varieties that can tolerate temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees. You could then leave such a Cape gooseberry covered outside over the winter on a warm house wall, perhaps well covered.
Prune Cape gooseberries
A pruning of the physalis is only necessary if it has been cultivated for several years. After overwintering, you should cut back the plants a lot in spring, at least by half, so that they sprout again from scratch.
Harvest and storage of physalis
The main harvest time in the warm growing countries is December to July, at this time you can find the physalis for seed production in the supermarket. In our garden, on the other hand, the fruits develop from August onwards. They grow to be about the size of a gooseberry or a cherry, and you should wait for the berries to turn a nice orange color before harvesting them.
The fruits of the physalis belong to the non-climacteric fruits, which means that they do not ripen after the harvest if they are still green from the plant. You can only leave fruits picked a little too early and not yet tasting right for a few days, then usually a little more aroma will develop.
If you can harvest so many physalis that you cannot eat them all at once, you should harvest the fruit with the shoot and hang it up dry and airy so that the fruit will keep for about two weeks.
This is how you can take advantage of the Cape gooseberry
The best thing to do is to simply eat the delicious berries raw out of hand by opening the paper sleeve a little wider and removing the berry. If you do not need new seeds, the small seeds can simply be eaten along with the sticky layer on the berries, but of course you can also wash them off.
They are really rich in vitamins and contain few calories, only around 70 kcal (around 300 kJ) per 100 g of physalis. The vitamins it contains are provitamin A, vitamin C and B 1, and physalis also contains iron.
You can also use the Cape gooseberries as a decoration, on a wide variety of desserts, then the brown shell is usually left on. It also looks very pretty if you dip the physalis in couverture or liquid chocolate and use this homemade praline as a decoration.
You should dry a very abundant physalis harvest, then the physalis taste similar to raisins and can also be used like these in cooking and baking.
More interesting facts about Cape gooseberries
Cape gooseberry or physalis are not the only names of the berry, it is also known as Andean berry, Andean cherry or Peruvian bladder cherry. The cape gooseberry is botanically completely called Physalis peruviana and belongs to the genus of the bladder cherries (Physalis) from the nightshade family. Hence the Greek name of the genus, “Physalis” means “bubble” in Greek.
The name “Cape gooseberry”, which is not directly associated with the home country South America, came about when Portuguese sailors introduced the physalis to South Africa, where it grew well and was enthusiastically received – whole fields of Cape gooseberries were planted in the vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope.
In Africa, the leaves of the Cape gooseberry are also used as a plaster on wounds, and they are even said to be eaten there as a vegetable. You could certainly try the one with the physalis as a plaster, but please not try the vegetables, as with many nightshade plants, all parts of the plant except the fruits are poisonous.
The varieties of physalis
The Cape gooseberries are offered in several cultivars, e.g. B. the Physalis peruviana “Giant Poha Berry” and “Golden Berry”, the seeds of which you can buy from well-stocked dealers. If you take the seeds from a fruit, you do not have this chance, because the Physalis fruits are not traded by type.
You could also look around in the genus of Physalis or Bladder Cherries in general, the Physalis Peruviana has some delicious relatives:
- The pineapple cherry or strawberry tomato or “Physalis pruinosa” comes from North America and in the German climate sometimes have a decisive advantage that they bear their fruit very early.
- The Cossack pineapple, or Cossack pineapple, also known as ground cherry or Physalis pubescens, is said to have a really intense pineapple taste, especially with the newly bred variety Physalis pubescens var. Integrifolia “Aunt Molly’s”.
- Tomatillo, Mexican tomato, Physalis philadelphica or P. ixocarpa are available in yellow (from which the original Mexican salsa is made) and in green, for cooking and eating raw.
- A purple fruit tomatillo or Physalis subglabrata “Valisto” is one of the many spectacular new breeds in this area, it should not always produce purple, but sometimes also white or greenish fruits, but they should be enjoyed raw as well as overcooked in hearty dishes taste good.