Gooseberry bush care
Gooseberries are easy to grow, thanks to their hardy and undemanding nature. They will grow happily as bushes or cordons and can be planted in containers or trained against walls and fences.
The joy of growing gooseberries is twofold. During May and June the small green berries have a wonderfully tart, acidic flavour. These are often picked and eaten with oily fish such as mackerel or pickled and served as a condiment. In late June and July the berries ripen into gloriously sweet fruits, and are delicious eaten straight from the bush, or turned into classic desserts, such as gooseberry fool or sweet tarts and jams.
Choose a sunny or partly shaded location with free-draining and moisture retentive soil. As the stems grow, you can train them to grow against a wall or simply allow them to grow as a traditional bush.
Dig a hole twice the size of the root-ball and add some compost or well-rotted manure. Spread the roots out as you place the gooseberry plant into the hole, then refill the hole to the base of the stem with a mixture of soil and compost. Press the soil down gently with the heel of a boot and water well.
Water well in the first few months and every two weeks during the summer if the weather is particularly hot or dry.
Every autumn, treat your gooseberry to a generous helping of mulch or well-rotted compost.
Gooseberry bushes will eventually grow to around 1.5 metres in height and width. They can be left to grow into a wild bush, encouraged to grow into an ‘open goblet shape’ (which makes picking easier) or trained into ‘fan’ shapes against walls or fences.
The best time to prune your gooseberry plants is in the winter. First remove any crossing, rubbing, dead or damaged branches, by cutting them back to the next set of spurs. Then remove around a third of the year’s growth from all the remaining stems. If you are aiming for an overall ‘goblet’ shape, keep to this shape when pruning.
Gooseberry bushes will produce fruit on 2-3 year old stems. The berries start to appear in June, and although they will be green and under-ripe at this stage, it is the ideal time to pick a few berries for jams, pies and tarts. The berries will be fully ripe in July and August.
IDEAS FOR YOUR GOOSEBERRY HARVEST
A classic fool is one of the most popular uses for these delicious little green fruits, but the Glut team also wholeheartedly recommend making a few jars of deliciously tart pickled gooseberries to enjoy with your favourite pie.