Gooseberry farming

Simplified way to grow Cape gooseberry from seeds to harvest

Cape gooseberry (yellow berry, golden berry or nathi in Kikuyu) is a shrub farmed for its blight yellow berries. Commercial gooseberry farming in Kenya started in late 2015. Previously Kenya used to import gooseberry from Colombia and the Netherlands.

Cape gooseberry often grows in the wild and can have a height of 50-100cm and 4m wide. At this stage, it can produce fruits weighing 3.5-10g.

gooseberry farming
Harvested Gooseberries

How to plant gooseberry

Commercial gooseberry can be planted from seeds, seedlings or cuttings. Seeds are collected by squeezing fresh ripe fruits, then dried under a shade for a day or three.

The seeds are then planted to produce seedlings which are ready for planting in 6 weeks.

In the case of stem cuttings, sections with 3 to 4 nodes are used. Young stem sections are cut late afternoon and dipped in a rooting hormone.

Seedings propagated using stem cuttings tend to flower earlier and provide good yields although less vigorously than those propagated from seed. It is recommended to plant gooseberry in a sunny location sheltered from strong winds.

Cape gooseberry grows well in loam sandy soils with organic matter. Farmers can incorporate at least 5 tons of manure to improve fertility.

Gooseberry spacing

The best gooseberry spacing is 1m within rows and 1.5m between rows. Transplanting is done when seedlings are 10cm to 20cm tall.

Planting should be done on a wet hole preloaded with farmyard manure.

Gooseberry fertilizer applications

Gooseberry does not require supplemental fertilizer in the first year of planting. Topdressing with NPK 17.17.17 is recommended to enhance high yield in subsequent years.

Plants can be allowed to grow and spread on the ground or trained on a trellis.

Gooseberries start bearing 3 to 4 months after transplanting and continue bearing up to two years under good management.

Harvesting begins 60-100 days after flowering when calyx has a tan (dry-grass) or light brown colour or a fruit dropdown.   

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