Gooseberries are a tart and tangy soft fruit that is easy to grow. They are delicious when used in desserts, or for fruity accompaniments to rich flavoured meats.
Another benefit of growing your own gooseberries is that you have an ample supply of nutritious fruits. Gooseberries are full of antioxidants, vitamin C and they are also a good source of fibre.
Gooseberries usually grow as small bushes in a border or vegetable plot, they can be grown in containers, and they can also be trained to grow up walls to save on space if you do not have a big garden.
Planting Gooseberry Bushes
Gooseberry bushes usually come in containers or they can be bought bare-rooted. Bare-rooted gooseberry plants can be planted at any time between autumn and spring, and gooseberries that have been grown containers can be planted out at any time of the year.
They will grow in most types of soil, as long as it is well drained. Waterlogged or very dry soil should be avoided. A sunny position is preferred, but gooseberries also do well in partial shade.
Gooseberry bushes should be planted about 4ft apart to allow the bush to grow without competing for nutrients and light.
If you want your gooseberries to grow as cordons, then space them just over a foot apart and attach to a 6ft bamboo cane. The bamboo canes should be fixed to horizontal wires that are approximately 2ft apart. As the gooseberry bush grows, the branches can be trained to grow along the wires, giving you long-length, fruiting stems.
Caring for Gooseberry Plants
In February, just before the start of spring, add a handful of organic fertiliser to the soil. Then, in March, add a fresh layer of mulch. This will help the soil to keep moist throughout the growing season.
Gooseberry plants benefit from light pruning to help keep an open shape and avoid too many stems from crowding each other. The best time to do this is in February, before spring stimulates new growth.
When berries begin to appear on the plants, try to water regularly as it helps to develop big and juicy fruits.
Pick from July onwards. It’s worth putting a net over the plants to stop the birds from eating all the fruit!