How to Grow Gooseberries
Gooseberries grow as small trees and shrubs being 1.5m in height and width and they fruit green, red, purpe, yellow, or even white gooseberries.
Wild gooseberries have smaller berries than cultivated ones, but their taste is often excellent.
Jostaberry is the hybrid of the black currant (Ribes Nigrum), the North American coastal black gooseberry (Ribes Divaricatum) and the European gooseberry (Ribes Uva-Crispa). Gooseberries were also used to produce the Jochelbeere, which is hybrid of the black currant (Ribes Nigrum) and the European gooseberry (Ribes Uva-Crispa).
Gooseberries are native to colder areas of Europe and parts of Asia. It can be grown even in warmer area, but in partial or full shade of other trees.
Gooseberries are easy to grow in small gardens - if you happen to find great tasting gooseberry in nature, be sure to cut a small branch. At home, put cutting in a suitable pot with good wet soil and soon it will grow new roots and new fruits can be expected in year or two. Gooseberries can be grown from seeds, too.
Gooseberries are self-fertilized plants, so growing single tree can yield with plenty of fruits. However, gooseberries are great for hedges, due to their height (1.5m), large number of thorns, and generally being a resilient plant.
When grown as hedge, plant them around 1m apart (3 feet) and prune regularly in order to remove weak or dead canes, especially from center of the bush and to open up the canopy and let the sun in and increase air circulation, decreasing disease problems. Also, pruning makes fruits easier to harvest - did we mention the thorns? Also, canes older than 4 years should be removed, too - they are still producing the fruit, but not nearly as much as younger canes.
Without regular pruning, gooseberry bush will soon become dense, thorny thicket. Often, gooseberries are grown on the trellis, similar to those used for grapes, as a single species, or mixed with other similar plants.
Gooseberries tolerate different types of soil, however, they will grow best on rich, moist, well-drained positions with pH around 6.5.
If you have sandy or heavy soil, add aged manure, compost, humus and other organic material to improve the soil. Also, add balanced NPK fertilizers with gradual release of nutrients in late winter, just be sure to avoid adding plenty of nitrogen. Nitrogen will make plants grow big, but weak and prone to various diseases.
Plants start to grow early in the spring, so be sure to plant gooseberries in early fall or in very early spring.
Mulching prevents weeds, but also protects the soil from heat and direct sunlight. Good mulches include organic materials like straw, composted manure, compost, wood chips and similar. Mulch such as wood chips or sawdust are considered as being low-nitrogen and high-carbon mulch, so one may need to apply extra nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen deficiency is easy to spot - plants grow slowly and older leaves start to change color - turn yellow. If younger leaves start to change color into yellow, it is sign of serious nitrogen deficiency, or there might be some other serious problem.
Pest and Diseases
The biggest problem for gooseberries is powdery mildew - if one grows cultivated varieties, choose those varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew. Also, keeping good air circulation and having plenty of sunlight prevents powdery mildew.
Birds and especially pigeons in some locations, can make a plenty of damage - they must be prevented from eating the fruits, but also breaking young canes. Protective nets are the only option for protecting gooseberries and other berries from birds.
Gooseberries are easy plants to grow in the small garden or on the balcony. They require some work in order to grow properly and bear great tasting fruits, but that work is negligible when compared with great tasting fruits and their fragrance and aroma.