Thursday, 30 January 2014

Guide to growing dessert Goseberries

Great favourites amongst ‘those who know’ Did you know you can even eat these straight from the bush when fully ripe! They are sweet and utterly unique in flavour to any other soft fruit. Imagine picking sweet and succulent gooseberries in the garden on a warm early summers day and eating them there and then! Happily they can also be turned into pies, crumbles, jams, preserves and chutneys just as you would a tart culinary gooseberry. The red fruited varieties in particular make a most attractive and super-sweet jam or pie. Grow dessert gooseberry bushes just as you would an ordinary one, they are hardy and easily grown on most soils in sun or part shade. Space bushes 5’ apart or grow them as single or double cordons which can be spaced just 18” apart, grown with support in the border, or against a fence or wall. These varieties are all great dessert varieties:
Rokula [red]
Crown Bob [red]
May Duke [red]
Leveller [golden]
Early Sulphur [primrose yellow]
Black Velvet [ruby red]
Leveller [yellow]
White Lion [pale white/green]
There are many others but these are particular favourites.
Gooseberries will grow in any ordinary soil in sun or part shade. Gooseberry bushes are precocious and will usually yield from the first year, with crops increasing year on year after that. They are suiotable for North as they are quite frost hardy. Bushes should be spaced 4' apart and are less labour intensive than currants. This is because they do not really need any pruning except when they grow old, and any old or dead wood should be removed. Dessert gooseberries are just the same in cultivation requirements as culinary varieties.
If you are short on space you might like to grow gooseberries as cordons; these can be spaced 18" apart, all the berries are produced from short side laterals that appear from one main stem. This type of growth will bneed support - a stout bamboo cane, or grow them against a fence or wall, of which any aspect will do. A great space saving option, and quite easy to prune as well.
Give these delicious sweet dessert gooseberries a try and grow something different!

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