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Gooseberry growing, a fruit suited to Ireland


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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:10 pm    Post subject: Gooseberry growing, a fruit suited to Ireland Reply with quote

Gooseberry growing, a fruit suited to Ireland
by GPI

In this country where we receive less than our fair share of fruit ripening sun, we are blessed with a soft fruit called the gooseberry. The Gooseberry is one of the few fruits commonly picked under-ripe, at which time it is used for preparing jams, tarts, and fool, a dessert where cream is folded into the stewed fruit.

The sturdy gooseberry bush should be top of your list for planting if your garden is of a modest size, or if it is your first attempt at growing soft fruit. Where more than one bush is being planted, the plants will require a spacing of only 1.6mtrs (5ft) apart each way, each bush eventually growing no more than 5ft high.

Of course, seeing as each gooseberry plant is self-fertile, you could even get away with planting just one specimen bush where space is extremely limited. Each bush can be expected to produce a large amount of fruit in relation to their size, somewhere in the region of 6-12lbs (3-5kg).

An example of the fruit you can expect to see on your gooseberry bush, photo / picture / image.


Growing areas.
When selecting that special location for your gooseberry plantation, avoid areas of extreme shading, wind exposure, and areas known as frost pockets; pieces of ground lower than their surroundings. In an ideal world you would plant your gooseberry bushes on a sheltered south-facing slope to attain the healthiest growth and the heaviest crops.

An average soil is required, neither too dry, nor too wet. Slightly acidic to neutral soil types (pH of 5.5 to 7) are the ideal for growing gooseberries, but even limey or alkaline soil will do, provided it is well drained.

They do not require overly fertile soil, as excess amounts of nitrogen can cause the plant to produce too much leaf at the expense of fruit. However, a little soil improvement before you plant is beneficial especially considering your gooseberry bushes may be producing fruit within that soil for the next 20 years.

Ground preparation.
Ideally, a month before planting, fork over the fruit area and remove all grasses and weeds, especially perennial weeds such as bindweed and docks. Alternatives to forking out the weeds are to solarize the soil or apply a systemic weedkiller such as roundup.

Remembering that the plants will require a spacing of 5ft, dig a 2ft by 2ft hole to a spades depth at each planting position. Into the bottom of this hole spread a 3 to 6 inch layer of organic matter, choose from garden compost, leaf mould, well-rotted farmyard manure, spent mushroom compost, or garden centre soil enricher. Mix this matter into the base of the hole with a fork and then loosely return the excavated soil back into the hole.

The final part of the soil preparation is to fork into the surface of the soil around 10 to 20 grammes of 7-6-17 fertiliser. If 7-6-17 is not available or not to your tastes if growing organically, then an organic granular fertiliser such as pelleted poultry manure applied at the rates stated on its pack will do. After all this is done, you must allow the soil to and its amendments to settle for around a week or two before planting.


Gooseberry plant types.
Before you come to plant, it will be worth your while to have a look at the commonly stocked gooseberry varieties. See which which ones will suit your needs.

Arrow 'Careless'
Heavy green yields suitable for cooking, but prone to mildew.

Arrow 'Greenfinch'
Compact and mildew resistant with berries which are good for cooking

Arrow 'Hinnomaki Red'
Produces high yields of red-fruits which can be eaten straight from the disease resistant bush.

Arrow 'Invicta'
High yields on a compact mildew resistant plant , the pale green berries are suitable for eating from the bush or cooking. However, this is a very thorny variety.

Arrow 'Pax'
Heavy crops of red-fruits suitable for eating from the virtually thornless and mildew resistant bush. Be careful though, the strong growing open spreading bushes may not be suitable for small gardens

Arrow 'Rokula'
Sports nicely flavoured, red-fruits which can be eaten straight from the bush. It is lso Resistant to mildew. But 'Rokula' berries are prone to cracking in heavy rain.

Arrow 'Whinham's Industry'
Probably the best all rounder for eating from the bush or cooking. A compact red-berried variety, it copes particularly well with partial shade, heavy soil and container growing. Watch out though, as it is prone to mildew.

Arrow 'Leveler'
Good all rounder for eating from the bush or cooking. Its yellow and green coloured berries are amongst the tastiest. Fail to prepare the soil and it reacts badly by producing poor crops.


Planting.
The best time to plant your gooseberry bushes is October; although anytime up to February is satisfactory, as long as the soil is not frozen or water-logged. To plant container-grown specimens, you should create planting holes 1.6mtrs (5ft) apart each way within your prepared area.

The holes should be twice as wide as the pot and so deep as to allow the compost on the top of the pot to sit about an inch below the surrounding soil once it is backfilled. Ideally, the soil you back fill should be mixed 50/50 with compost before it is replaced. If planting bare-rooted bushes, dig the hole wide enough to allow their roots to be spread out in the hole before you replace the soil and firm it down lightly with your boot to finish.

Keep your Gooseberry plants well watered until they are established, a rough rule of thumb in the first year would be that if we get three days without rain the plants must be watered. Another top tip is to spread a 3 inch layer of bark mulch at the base of the plants reduce the amount of water loss from the soil and help discourage weeds.

Any queries or comments on Gooseberry growing, a fruit suited to Ireland, please post below.

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Sean Ph'lib
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hallo,
I've grown goosberries for years. Some of them (Early Sulphur and Whitesmith, to name just two, are as sweet and flavoursome as dessert grapes when fully ripe! I used to grow them as regular bushes, but found a lot of trouble with switch grass and nettles growing up inside the bushes. Now I grow them as standards. I stake the little tree and grow on just the top bud until it reaches the top of the stake - about three feet. Then I allow it to branch and prune it into an open-centred bush. Result - no more weed problem and no stooping to prune and pick! Smile Last year I planted White Eagle, Golden Drop and Lancer.
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Import
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I grew up with gooseberries - when arriving in Ireland I found my gooseberries are called physalis and the gooseberries is a completely different fruit.

I planted some gooseberries - plants from Lidl. Not the best varieties. however I have found a mail order supplier of plant and I am planning on planting at least 3 plants in the back garden next to the horrible vibercreat wall.

However I found this website selling open root trees and scrubs. Their prices are not only very competitive but their delivery cost is also affordable, if a single plant is ordered - go to the local garden centre.

http://futureforests.net/br_fruit.htm
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BlackBird
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Import wrote:
I grew up with gooseberries - when arriving in Ireland I found my gooseberries are called physalis and the gooseberries is a completely different fruit.


Thats the Cape gooseberry or Chinese lantern. are you from South America Import?


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Organicgrowingpains
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have had 2 gooseberry bushes in the allotment for the last 2 years, had great crops from both but the sawfly decimated both of them so watch out for that next year.
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Import
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2008 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Blackbird. No I am from South Africa. Where gardening is easy and living securely is hard.

The variety of physalis you depict in the picture is a South American one. The one I grew up with has a beige 'wrapping' when the bright orange fruit ripens.

I have some growing in the 'inner sanctuary' in my pollytunnel
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michael brenock
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

watch out for gooseberry sawfly caterpillars in last week of April onwards. watch for initial attack and shake bush rapidly using a rake handle and as they fall to the ground sweep them up and bury them otherwise they will recur next year again. watering off with a good strong hose spray is good.
michael brenock horticultural advisor (retired)
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barremic
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had 5 gooseberry bushes wiped clean of all leaves last year. the fruit was all fine. Could this have been the sawfly?

I have been checking them this year and have found a couple of leaves with tiny green caterpillars on them. Which i removed. There doesnt seem to be many, as i have dug over and mulched the area a few weeks ago. will this be enough? or should i keep a close eye on the plants

Thanks
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sirpsycho
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello all,

Great forum going on here.

I'm thinking of planting one or two gooseberry bushes but i'm a bit limited. I am thinking about growing them in pots on the patio but was wondering which variety would suit this better? I dont mind thorns either, it will help keep my 2 year old away from them!!

Also, I recently bought a small "plasic-house" type greenhouse so I have a little room in there to give them a warm start.
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barremic
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hiya

I wouldnt know what variety as the ones i inherited are years old.

But the bit about the warm start, i dont think thats necessary, last week my plants were just thorny twigs, but this weekend there is plenty of green budding on them.
it seems the snow and frost etc didnt seem to bother them one bit, so i dont think they would need a warm start.

Hopefully someone else can help you with a variety
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Whinham's Industry' would be the most suitable variety for pots.
Compact but upright.
Keep them fed and watered well though.
Also opt for a loam based compost to fill the tubs.
Loam soil because it retains nutrients and water well, while still allowing excess quantities of these to flow freely away.

barremic is right...... no warm start needed.

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sirpsycho
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My gooseberry bushes are teeming with fruit now and they are getting fairly large. They are a whitish shade of green now (Invicta) and around 1inch long. When should I be picking them? I felt some of them and they are quite firm to the touch.
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ian
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

why don't you taste them?
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sirpsycho
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been that long since I've actually tasted a fresh gooseberry that I still wouldnt know! I might give one a taste though.
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barremic
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yep I've lots this year too, and thankfully the dreaded saw fly missed my gooseberry bushes this year. I raked over and put some bark on top, and it seemed to do the trick.

one thing though, my gooseberrys are purple, variety unknown, and they are ripening lovely, but some are bursting, i think this is from lack of water, does anyone know if this is the case?

i usually dont water my fruit area

ta
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