Posts Tagged ‘growing gooseberries’

Growing Gooseberries from Planting to Harvest

November 29th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

growing-gooseberries-from-planting-to-harvest

People often ask “What’s the best fruit bush for beginners?” Well, one stands head and shoulders above the rest – the gorgeous gooseberry!

Gooseberry bushes grow well in most soils, they’re very easy to prune, are self-pollinating which means you can get away with growing just one, and generous gooseberries give up their sumptuous fruits in hearty profusion. In short, you really need to grow one! Read on or watch the video to find out how.

Types of Gooseberry

Choose from either culinary or dessert varieties. Culinary gooseberries are usually cooked with sugar to temper their naturally sour taste. They’re perfect in jams, pies, puddings and a gooseberry fool.

Dessert varieties are sweet enough to eat straight from the bush – a treat you’re unlikely to experience unless you grow your own. You can also pick some of the berries before they’ve ripened to use in the same way as culinary gooseberries.

The berries themselves are typically pale green, but look out for eye-catching red or yellow varieties too. Most plants are very thorny, but some varieties are easier on the hands with considerably fewer thorns.

Where to Grow Gooseberries

Gooseberries will thrive in most gardens, but to get the most from them grow them in a bright position in rich, well-drained soil.

Gooseberries naturally grow into bushes but may also be trained – as standards on a long single trunk, or against a fence as fans or single-stemmed cordons. Take heart if you really don’t have much space to spare or you only have a patio, because this hardy fruit can successfully be grown in containers too.

(Please note: in a few areas of the United States growing gooseberries is prohibited because they can serve as a host to white pine blister rust, a disease devastating to the lumber industry. Check for local restrictions before sourcing plants.)

How to Plant a Gooseberry Bush

Plant bare-root or container-grown gooseberries from late autumn to early spring – you’ll probably need to wait until spring if the ground freezes solid over winter where you garden.

Dig a generous planting hole then add some well-rotted compost or manure to the excavated soil. Place the gooseberry into the hole so that the previous soil level is flush with the new soil level. Feed back the enriched soil around the roots or rootball, taking plenty of time to firm in the soil as you fill to anchor the roots. Water copiously to settle the soil further, then finish off with a mulch of organic material to help suppress weeds and feed your new plant.

If you’re planting more than one gooseberry, space bushes at least 4ft (120cm) apart. Cordons can be planted much closer – just 45cm (18in) apart – but tie the stem to a supporting bamboo cane that’s in turn secured to horizontal wire supports.

Caring for Gooseberries

In moisture-retentive soils established bushes need very little additional watering, but regular watering in hot, dry weather is a must for young plants and essential for container-grown gooseberries.

Apply an organic, balanced fertiliser at the end of each winter to give plants a good start ahead of the new growing season. Then remove any weeds around the root area before topping up mulches to at least an inch (3cm) deep. Use organic materials like garden compost or bark chippings for this.

Pruning Gooseberry Bushes

Prune established gooseberry bushes to encourage an open, evenly spaced branch structure. This will let in plenty of light while allowing for good air circulation to discourage disease and pests such as sawflies.

Pruning is completed in winter when the bush is dormant. To start, cut out all dead or diseased wood, any shoots growing close to the ground, plus tangled or overcrowded branches. Now prune the branches that are left by cutting back the previous season’s growth by a half. Sideshoots coming off the main branches should be cut back to between one and three buds from the base of the shoot. Make all cuts just above an outward facing bud to encourage that all-important open habit. Finally, dig up any suckers – that’s stems growing from the ground away from the main stem.

Harvesting Gooseberries

Birds can sometimes pilfer fruits before you’ve had a chance to pick them. Stop them in their tracks! Cover plants with netting or grow bushes inside a purpose-made fruit cage.

Gooseberries are ready to pick from early summer onwards. Harvesting dessert or dual-purpose varieties in stages gives early, under-ripe fruits for cooking, then later fruits to enjoy sweet and fresh. The berries that remain after the first pickings will also be able to grow larger.

Handle the soft, plump fruits gently and wear thick gloves if the thorns become too painful to bear!

Gooseberries are at their sumptuous best immediately after picking, but they’ll stay fresh enough in polythene bags kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or freeze gluts for a well-deserved taste of summer later on in the year.

There are many ways to enjoy the glorious gooseberry! In jams, pureed with elderflower cordial for drying into fruit leathers, or boiled with other fruits to make a tangy, sweet compote to dollop onto ice cream or yoghurt. Give gooseberries a go! They’re reliable, hard-working fruits that deserve to be more widely grown.

If you have any gooseberry growings tips, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Growing soft fruits for Beginners

March 1st, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

In a few weeks fruit bushes will be bursting into leaf, ready to start a new season of delicious abundance.

Many soft fruits are both heavy cropping and surprisingly easy to grow; and when you consider how much it costs to buy them in the shop, there is every reason to grow them!

If you have never tried growing fruits before, watch this video, it will show you how to grow soft fruits for beginners.

Mr-Fothergills-growing-soft-fruits-for-beginners-strawberries

Strawberries

With so many varieties you could be picking fruits from spring all the way through to autumn.

Strawberries will crop the first summer of the planting, and because they aren’t woody plants, the only pruning they need is pruning back the leaves after fruiting.

Fruits that lie on bare sole can rot, you can protect them by laying straw around them when they begin to flower. You can even enjoy a late crop of strawberries by protecting them with row covers or cloches.

 

Raspberries

There are two types of raspberries: summer fruiting and autumn fruiting or fall bearing .  Autumn fruiting raspberries are the easiest to grow because they only need minimal support to stop them flopping over. Pruning couldn’t be easier too. Simply cut back on the old canes in late winter, ready for new canes to replace them in spring. Autumn fruiting raspberries produces a steady supply of berries from late summer to the first frosts.

 

Blackberries and Hybrid Berries

Most modern varieties are thornless and their fruits tend to be bigger and sweeter than their wilder counterparts. The canes are vigorous and generally trouble-free. Simply tie them to support to maintain order and cut out old canes to encourage new growth.

Hybrid berries such as boysenberry or tayberry are the result of a cross between the blackberry and other cane fruits; often raspberry or another hybrid. The result are tasty berries, all easy to grow and all juicy and delicious.

 

Mr-Fothergills-growing-soft-fruits-for-beginners-currantsCurrants

With red, white and black currant to choose from you’re immediately spoilt for choice. All currants crop well, producing heavily laid in clusters or streaks of currant to eat fresh, use into sauces or turn into jam or jelly. They also go wonderfully with apples in pies!

Red and white currants prefer cooler climates and will even grow well in shade. If you got a sweet tooth, opt for white currants. Which tend to be a little sweeter than reds.

Blackcurrants require very little care. They even crop when neglected; But prune them in winter to remove some of the older branches, and you will encourage a lot of new, healthy growth and plenty of fruits.

 

Gooseberries

They are near to indestructible and will strive in any soil, though it prefers cooler climates and some shelter from the wind. You can choose between culinary varieties and desert varieties.

Gooseberries will produce their fruits even when neglected, but if you show some care by feeding, pruning and mulching, you will have many fruits to enjoy every summer.

They have been some restrictions for growing gooseberries and currants in the United States. The reason is that they served as intermediary host for the white pine blister rust disease, which is fatale to white pines. Thankfully, modern breedings created varieties resistant to the disease and restrictions have been lifted in most states. However, there are still some restrictions in some area, so make sure to check the situation where you live before planting.

 

General care

Generally, soft fruits require less space than trees, and are quicker to reach maturity, so you won’t have to wait long before your first pickings. Container growing soft fruits can be planted at any time of year, while bare root fruits are best planted from late Winter to early spring; or in milder climates from autumn onwards.

Keep your soft fruits striving by watering thoroughly once a week in dry weather, especially in the first year.

In spring, top up with mulch, such as compost, to help feed the plants, while improving soil structure. Lay it at least a couple of inches or 5cm thick, taking care to keep it clear of the canes or trunks of the plant.

You may find birds like your fruits as much as you do. Netting or a walk-in fruit cage will keep them off.

While soft fruits are delicious eaten fresh, most currants and berries can also easily be frozen or dried, to enjoy later in the year.

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you grow soft fruits for the first time. If you are already growing fruits let us know which ones in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page and tell us what you would recomend for beginners.