The gooseberry is not everyone’s ideal fruit but if you want to have a go at growing gooseberries then the following may be helpful.
There are a few gooseberry varieties you may want to look at and they are:
‘Invicta’ – a very fast growing and spreading gooseberry bush that bears large, pale green berries suitable for dessert and culinary use.
‘Greenfinch’ – This is a very good disease-resistant variety that forms quite compact bushes. Bright green fruits and are excellent for cooking.
‘Whinham’s Industry’ – Very popular red-fruited variety, likes partial shade. Good choice for heavy soils but can be prone to mildew.
‘Careless’ – This is the most popular cooking variety with pale green fruits that gives heavy yields. Grows well on most soils but again susceptible to the old mildew.
What you need to know about Planting Gooseberries.
If you chose bare rooted bushes then you can plant between autumn and spring. If you chose container grown, these can be grown all year round.
You will need to plant your gooseberry bushes where there is good airflow to basically prevent diseases and make sure you water them regularly especially when the fruits are swelling and ripening.
All varieties prefer sunshine but you can get away with part shaded areas. Newly planted bushes should fruit the following year.
Space your gooseberry bushes 1.2 – 1.5m apart and cordons should be 40 – 45 cm apart.
The most common problem is the same as with any type of berry, birds. If you’re thinking about growing gooseberries then you will be pleased to know that they aren’t too fussy about their soil conditions unless it’s really poor and you should add some low fertility soil improver before planting.
Netting may be required depending on your area. The most common disease is sawfly larvae; these little critters can very quickly defoliate a plant. Mildew can be a problem for younger plants. You need to pick off the sawfly larvae and cut out any mildewed leaves.
How to prune gooseberries
Pruning in the winter will help to form an equal branch structure and keeps the centre of the gooseberry bush open to make picking easier. Mildew and some diseases are also reduced if air circulation is encouraged.
Prune back the previous year’s growth to two buds. These are the fruits from the old wood and around the base of last year’s growth.
You will need to prune out any shoots that are growing into the centre of the bush, and make sure you cut back the leaders by one-third.
If your growing gooseberries starting with a bush then summer pruning certainly isn’t essential, but if possible prune the side shoots back to about five leaves and do this in June. This allows the sun to reach into the centre of the bush and help ripen the fruit.
If you’re going to use single-stemmed cordons then these can be trained onto canes or against a wall that will allow it to grow to 1.8m (6ft) tall. In summer, again prune the side shoots back to five leaves to encourage the fruiting spurs to develop.
You will also need to tie the leading shoot tip into the support as it grows.
In the winter, you will need to shorten the previous year’s growth on the main tip back by about a quarter to encourage the new side shoots. Shorten side shoots that you pruned in the summer to two or three buds.
When it comes to Harvesting Gooseberries
Make sure that each string of fruit is fully coloured and pick the whole bunch. Make sure you where gloves as the prickles hurt!
Eat the gooseberries from fresh or if you’re that way inclined make them into preserves or jellies.