The Cape gooseberries growing in pots with the Iceberg roses beside the swimming pool in my mother's garden in Constantia are vastly superior in flavour to the ground cherries I grew on our leaky roof last year.
Both fruit are Physalis. My ground cherries ("Aunt Molly's") were very sweet with a slightly funky aftertaste, and good to include in fruit salads. This Cape gooseberry, above and below, had a startlingly rich sweetness, with an edge. Excellent for baking into crumbles. The Cape gooseberry fruit was also much larger, more than thumbnail-sized, whereas my ground cherries (er...roof cherries?) were more like pinky nail-sized. Finally the Cape gooseberries were a rich orange, as opposed to the sightly khaki-nuanced yellow of the ground cherries.
In habit the Cape gooseberry is a small shrub with rather slender vertical branches, while the ground cherry sprawls, with horizontal and rigid branches (actually quite good for windy conditions, now that I think of it).
I wanted my mother's gooseberries for my roof farm. What to do, since nowhere could I find Cape gooseberry seed?
Pick my own.
So I did, and collected the seed, and now I have an envelope-full.
I may have to send some to a man in Japan who asked nicely for them, although it was never quite clear to which Physalis he was referring. In return, he said, he would send me "Oriental' vegetable seed, from his own allotment.
This year will be quite a gardening challenge. Vince and I will be away in late May and June while two wildly over qualified cat sitters - Amy Stewart (whose latest book is The Drunken Botanist) and the beloved dinahmow, returning for her second New York stint, from Australia - will look after Monsieur Le Chat and the terrace garden.
So I will start things horticultural in April and May, and hold my breath through the wonderful growing months of late spring and early summer, while we are absent and experiencing autumn and early winter in Cape Town, something I have not done in eighteen years.
Amy and Dinah will be able to escape from this tiny apartment and enjoy roses and lilies on the tiny terrace. But we are requiring no one to go up to the roof to tend the farm - it's too much to ask, as access is not straightforward, and so Vince will rig a temporary and simple irrigation system, so that water at least can be controlled from the terrace...
When we return, there may be gooseberries.