* Gooseberries

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.

 

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