In the spring its strawberries and in the autumn I have discovered the delicious Cape Gooseberry (or Ground Cherries to some.) Not everyone seems to like them as they can be a bit tart, and the taste isn’t that usual sugary sweet flavour generally associated with fruit, but that’s ok, it just means more for me!
Last season (or was it the one before?) I planted a couple in the back of the pepper bed and enjoyed the occasional late season nibble, but the frost got them before I could truly have my fill. So in the season just gone I got greedy – really greedy. I wanted more, I wanted enough to gorge myself on and have enough left over to make jam!
So I planned my approach carefully and well in advance. I sowed half a dozen seeds in the greenhouse in the autumn, instead of spring like you are supposed to and then nurtured and tended them throughout the winter, repotting them several times as they grew.
I remember seeing them at our old place in the city, growing as a weed, so I figured they really should have a home of their own so they can self-seed and come back every year, without becoming a weed among the carrots or whatever other vegetable I’m trying to grow in the old gooseberry spot, and the best bit is hopefully going forward – I won’t need to do anything – a no fuss crop, although I have yet to test this theory. I think their new permanent home became raised bed number 21 or was it 22?
The early start has helped them tremendously as you can hardly see the raised garden for lush green growth. These things seem to be really easy to grow. It does my gardening ego the world of good! Over the last couple of weeks or so I have noticed and nibbled on the gooseberries coming ripe one at a time, with their golden little balls contained within their own fancy pre-packaged paper lantern. They almost look too pretty to break open, and if it wasn’t for the knowledge that such delicious yumminess lies inside, then my approach wouldn’t be to hastily rip them apart!
This weekend I wandered over to check over the patch and hit the golden jackpot! There were heaps of the papery parcels hanging from the bush. I raced inside to get my largest bowl and spent ages picking the ripe ones, careful not to miss any and eating a fair amount at the same time! I managed to harvest half a kilo – not quite enough to make jam, but this is just the beginning, there are probably ten times more green ones and the bees are still visiting the flowers. So it is a race against time: will I get to harvest enough for my jam before Jack Frost comes and destroys all that I have worked all year for…
Come again soon – there is a long weekend coming up, heaps of extra time for gardening!
Sarah the Gardener : o )