Have you ever picked fresh gooseberries? The sharp, spicy, and herbal fragrance of ripening gooseberries permeates the air each time the leaves are brushed to find the fruit in late summer. These dark berries are richer in vitamin C than almost any other fruit in the garden. In this article, we show you how to grow gooseberries organically and easily.
Grow Gooseberries are an excellent choice for home gardens. In fact, lately, they are more popular than ever with gardeners. Most use the berries for baking and making jams and jellies for their tangy taste. But white currants are sweet enough to eat straight off the bush.
If you are thinking of growing gooseberries, you should know that they grow more than you imagine. You will need to secure about 1.5 meters between bushes.
Red and white currants can be grown in string. But black currants, on the other hand, are best grown in the form of shrubs.
When and where to plant
The best time to grow gooseberries is between November and March in the Northern Hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, it is best to plant them in the fall, from March to May.
These plants like sheltered spaces, away from strong winds. Although they tend to be best in full sun, both red and white currants also grow in shady locations. The fruit will still be good, but very pointed.
Plant the gooseberries in full sun in an area with well-drained soil and a pH of 5.5 to 7.0. You should mulch the soil each spring to protect it from the sun and hold in moisture longer.
Gooseberries prefer medium or heavy soil mixed with several inches of organic matter or compost.
Before planting, cut all the stems 15 to 20 centimeters above the ground. If you are bare-rooted gooseberries, soak the roots for 3-4 hours before planting.
Planting the gooseberries
Dig the holes about 30 cm. deeper than the plants you are going to plant. Fill them with a mixture of compost and soil. Make sure to trim very long or broken roots.
Plant so the lowest branch is below ground level. This will turn the plants into a bush shape. Plant in the hole and fill in with loose soil and gently press the soil to better support the plant.
Transplants need good contact between the roots and the soil. Don’t push too hard. Doing so can cause the soil to compact and damage the roots.
Gently water around the root ball to settle the soil and expel air pockets.
How to care for gooseberries
Keep your plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. They will need about an inch or two of rain each week during the growing season.
Irrigate with a drip system that delivers low-pressure water at ground level. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
In spring, before the leaves sprout, apply granular fertilizer to the soil, following the directions on the label. Most of the new shoots will emerge from the crown of the plant from under the ground. Don’t let the plants dry out.
Experts suggest that it is best not to prune plants for the first three years, but to remove broken or dead branches. You can start pruning in winter or early spring before new growth begins.
Mulch every year. Annual mulching keeps the soil cool and moist and prevents weed growth. Once you’ve planted your gooseberry tree – and every year thereafter – add two inches of organic mulch, such as wood chips, compost, sawdust, or grass clippings.
Pests are not usually a big concern for gooseberries, as long as you prune regularly and remove fallen fruit, but keep an eye out for insects such as fruit flies, aphids, currant borers, and gooseberries. Mites. If you have a pest problem, take care of it by using a non-toxic insecticidal soap.
How to prune gooseberries
Pruning your gooseberries each year is the key to maintaining consistent, high-volume fruit production. Prune gooseberries annually in late winter, before your plant experiences new growth.
Use this pruning method to ensure that your gooseberry always has the most vigorous stems possible.
First-year of growth: Keep seven of your healthiest canes and cut the rest.
Second-year of growth: Keep four or five of the healthiest two-year-old canes and four or five of the healthiest one-year canes, cutting the rest.
Third-year of growth: Keep three to four of the healthiest canes from each year of growth and cut the rest.
Fourth-year of growth: As fruit production in four-year-old wood begins to decline, you must now completely cut the older canes and prune the remaining canes according to the process established above.
This system ensures that your currant plant continually removes old, unproductive wood and always has eight to twelve ripe canes to bear fruit.
How to harvest and preserve gooseberries
Your gooseberry should give a light harvest after its first two years. It will start producing full crops after its third year.
When to harvest
The fruits of currants usually ripen in summer, depending on the variety. Observe the flavor and color of the fruit to determine the precise time of harvest.
If you are using the fruit to make jam, you should harvest it before it is fully ripe because pectin levels are higher in unripe fruit (pectin is a soluble fiber that thickens jams).
How to harvest
Gooseberries grow in clusters. When harvesting gooseberries, pick the whole bunches and separate the berries from the stems once you’ve brought them indoors.
How to keep them
Place the fruit in a closed container or bag and store it in the refrigerator. The gooseberries will remain edible for a few weeks once in the refrigerator.
It may also be of interest to read: Guide to growing avocados in a pot.
Have you grown gooseberries in your garden? We would love to hear from you. Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.