Posted: 20/03/2017 at 08:42
We moved into this house 12 years ago. In the garden were two gooseberry bushes and a rhubarb clump that had to be removed while raised beds were built. After some weeks of lying around in a corner, these were replaced in the new beds.
The bushes have given us masses of gooseberries and it's only in the last couple of years that one of them is dying off. I have taken a cutting which is now established, and I plan to replace the weak bush with this.
The rhubarb is a hero, a legend! No one I know grows rhubarb like this, it's huge. My friends come round to help themselves to it. Now and then a section of the crown looks rotten and I dig it out, but there's still plenty left.
So don't give up on the old plants, they may serve you well. Try them out for another season. Currant bushes are easy to propagate from cuttings, so that's also an option if the old bushes are getting tired. I bought two blackcurrant bushes, and took cuttings to grow a third one. This turned out to be the biggest and strongest of the three.
I don't think mulch would kill the grass, you really need to do a bit of hand weeding around the bushes, but take case, as fruit bushes and canes often have roots close to the surface. Then a layer of compost would be good (not heaped around the stems,) and some potash-high fertiliser (e.g. tomato feed) as they start to grow, to encourage blossom and fruit; and rhubarb loves compost.