Gooseberries are an easy-to-grow soft fruit and they can thrive in many kinds of soil, although they really like a sunny site. They can be grown as bushes or be trained against a wall to take up less space in a small garden – you can even grow gooseberries in containers.
How to plant gooseberries
You can start planting gooseberries in early spring. Plant bushes that are at least 2 years old, so you can enjoy quicker results. Choose an area of your yard that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day and has rich, well drained soil.
When planting, you want to be sure your plants are 5-6 feet apart. They have shallow roots that like to stretch so do them a favor and give them some space. To plant, make sure the hole is at least 10 inches deep and runs the length of the root ball.
How to grow gooseberries in containers
Gooseberries can be grown year round when you plant them in containers. This allows you to bring them indoors when cold weather hits as well as move them along with sun patterns. To plan gooseberries in containers, be sure the container is deep enough to fit the entire root system as well as offer a few extra inches. Opt for a pot that is at least 18 inches wide and has proper drainage.
How to care for gooseberries
Gooseberries are really low maintenance when it comes to water. As long as you aren’t experiencing a major drought, you can get away with watering every ten days or so. If your gooseberry bushes seem to be lanky, you can offer them support with a trellis or a berry cage.
You will need to prune gooseberry plants in order for them to produce the fruit productively. This should be done prior to the winter months.
General tips for producing a good crop
Mulching will keep moisture in your soil and will allow you to water less. If birds seem to be a problem, try a berry cage or netting.
Aphids tend to like gooseberry plants and can be an issue. If you notice aphids, pick them off and remove any diseased branches or greenery. You can also use a food safe pest product to help keep bugs at bay.
When and how to harvest gooseberries
There are two different times to pick gooseberries. The green, under ripe berries are often used in jams and desserts for their tartness. If you want a tart berry, pick a greenish yellow berry. If you want a sweeter berry, wait until mid July when the berries have a slight blush to them. They will also be quite full of juice with a skin that is thin. To harvest, pick gently and avoid squeezing.
How to divide gooseberries
Dividing gooseberry bushes is important if crowding starts to occur. To divide, you can remove and discard weak or under performing bushes.