Donate SIGN UP

Growing Gooseberries Guide

16:36 Mon 24th May 2010 |

A gooseberry bush can be one of the easiest fruits to grow in your garden. If you have a small garden it can be ideal as it is easy to grow, produces plenty of fruit and doesn’t mind being in partial shade. They are hardy plants which can withstand cooler areas and harder winds. Another great thing about gooseberry bushes is the fact that they are self fertile – there is no need, like with apple trees, to have more than one in the garden. Unless you really like gooseberries of course!

Growing Your Gooseberry Bush

Gooseberry bushes prefer to be in cool areas with a decent amount of sun – this way the berries mature in a natural was rather than being baked by the sun. An almost perfect place for gooseberries is along a north-facing wall, offering both shade and sun throughout the day.

Gooseberries do have one drawback however – they are particular about the soil they grow in. The soil needs to be medium weight which is well drain but not dry. This can be something of a tightrope walk for gardeners. The soil doesn’t need to be too fertile or you will end up with too much weak green growth instead of fruit.

When to Plant a Gooseberry Bush

October is considered to be the best time to plant a gooseberry bush as the soil is not cold, as it will be in winter, and it allows the bush to gain purchase with its roots – beating the spring rush!

You can plant up to February as long as the soil is neither frozen nor waterlogged, but October is the optimum time for planting.

How to Plant a Gooseberry Bush

You must prepare the soil before planting, as you would any tree or shrub. Gooseberry bushes can produce fruit for up to 20 years, so making sure you get this stage right is worth the effort. Simply make a hole about 3 feet round and bring in as much organic material as possible - dig in august so the soil can settle by October. In October dig again to accommodate the bush up to the soil mark.

After Your Gooseberry Bush is Planted

There are few things to remember once the bush is in. Keep the soil moist, especially while the fruit is being formed and mulch around the bush (not touching the base) each spring – seaweed is particularly good for this. For a little bit of extra help, add a handful of bonemeal around September and water it in – this should help you gooseberry bush through the winter.

Birds can be a problem. Often they will appear around May and attempt to eat the young fruit and come back again in July to get the most ripened fruit. To combat this you can tie coloured thread onto branches – this is said to scare away some birds. Another option is to use a fruit cage, but some may find this excessive.

You should prune in February every year. Keeping the centre of the bush as clear as possible is a good idea – cut away death braches, leaves and so on. Cut back old growths on the outside of the bush to about an inch of their base. This should encourage a good shape and plenty of healthy fruit.

All you have left to do now is to wait for your gooseberries to ripen to harvest!

Do you have a question about Home & Garden?