Gooseberries are sharp and acidic – tart in May but may ripen more sweetly by July.
Native to northern Europe they thrive in chillier weather, and have been a feature of British gardens since the 1600s. (RHS, The Garden, June 2016, pp.73-75)
- they grow best on free-draining but moisture retentive soil (can tolerate alkaline soil better than most fruit) – but there is variability in this between cultivars.
- can tolerate some shade and cold
- likes a spot with good air movement to help keep mildew and gooseberry sawfly at bay
- plant bushes 5-6 feet apart
- mulch & top-dress each spring with potassium-rich fertiliser
- birds enjoy ripe gooseberries but net plants as late as possible because the birds also help control bugs
Pruning: in winter shorten leaders by a third and cut back laterals (side branches) to two buds. Remove branches growing in the centre of bushes to create an open ‘vase’ shape. Prune cordons again in summer – reduce all sideshoots to five leaves.
Pests & Diseases
- gooseberry sawfly larvae – inspect regularly from April for the caterpillarlike larvae and squash on sight.
- American gooseberry mildew – air circulation is key to avoiding this.
Hinnomaki Red Gooseberry is a variety from Finland with superb flavour, high yields, and a beautiful red fruit colour. The fruit’s skin is tangy; the flesh is sweet. Plants grow upright and are mildew resistant. The sweet berries can be eaten fresh or baked in a crumble or pie. This is truly an outstanding variety.
- Hinnomaki Red are self-fertile.
- Plant in full sun or partial shade.
- Grows 3 feet (1 metre) high; spreads 4.5 feet (1.5 metres).
- Best planted 5 x 5 feet apart and kept about 3-4 feet high.
- Plant in evenly moist soil, with good air circulation.
- Easy to grow and nice as hedging, with lobed leaves that turn red in the fall.
- Tolerates most soil types.
- Feed regularly through the growing season with a fish, blood and bone fertilizer.
- Good for fresh eating, desserts, and preserves.
Plant between February to June or between September and October.
- Fruits between June and August.
- Will set fruit 1-2 years after first planting.
- Prune during winter months, removing old and damaged branches.
- Approximately 1/3 of oldest wood can be removed to encourage new growth.
RHS recommended as an excellent attractant and nectar source for bees and other beneficial insects.
** planted in allotment 2 June 2018.