Gooseberry Planting guide with SPD Hedgehogs Nursery
Gooseberry Planting Guide
The gooseberry is a straggling bush growing to about 1-3 metres tall with the branches being thickly set with sharp spines, standing out singly or in tufts of two or three from the bases of short spines. The fruit is rounded, deeply crenated 3-5 lobed leaves, generally hairy and good flavour and is one of the earliest fruits of the year. Gooseberries are very easy to grow and should not take long to prepare any area for planting.
The soil should be prepared in the autumn by forking over a large area and removing any weeds. Dig a planting hole and fork in compost, or well-rotted manure, adding a pellet general all-purpose fertiliser. Gooseberries should be spaced about 1.5 metres apart for best results. Keep well watered until established and mulch thickly, especially during the dryer periods during June to August. The mulch should be put around the plant, but not touching the main stem in Spring and either some slow release pellet fertiliser or a handful of bonemeal applied September should be all that is needed.
To prevent birds eating the berries, net from June to July for protection of the fruit.
Prune the bushes in February each year keeping the centre of the bush clear of most growth by cutting out any weak or dead branches. On the outside of the bush, young growth should be left untouched, and older, longer side shoots should be cut back to within 2cm (1 inch) of their base. The bushes are an ideal deterrent to unwanted guests, be it people or animal: the thorny spikes on the bush (also available without spikes) will keep out all kinds of unwelcome pests.
Eating the Fruit
Gooseberries are not just something to grow, of course; they are also a fantastic food and can be made into a variety of foods, from jam and chutney to pies and drinks – you can even make wine from them. At scotplantsdirect.co.uk we have, in our soft fruit section, several Gooseberry varieties to choose from – there really is nothing better than knowing what you are eating is fresh, clean, safe and free from chemicals! Spike free varieties make picking your fruit that little bit simpler, especially for children, so don’t be put off by thinking that Gooseberries are prickly harbingers of pain for your little ones delicate fingers. Get one of your 5-a-day by growing your own fruit and baking with it.
Just because it’s cooked doesn’t mean it can’t count as a good, healthy, vitamin packed snack – savour the taste of freshly grown food from your own garden. Gooseberries, contrary to what yo may think, actually taste sweet and delicious once you cook them, so you don’t even need to add too much sugar!
Scot Plants Direct at Hedgehogs Nursery, Crompton Road, Southfield Industrial Estate, Glenrothes, Fife KY6 2SF