Posted: 20/04/2013 at 09:52
I think that trying to move massively overgrown fruit bushes at any time of year would be difficult purely because of their size, so would recommend pruning first. Having pruned it, you probably won't get much of a crop (if any) the following year. There is also the risk that an old, neglected fruit bush won't survive the trauma of being moved.
The best time to move fruit bushes (and most other shrubs) is when they are dormant in winter (November-December). If you do it then, you can try and insure against loss of the shrubs by taking hardwood cuttings beforehand (October is best).
Cut ripe shoots of gooseberries and currants to length (Blackcurrant - 8"-10", Red- and Whitecurrant - 12", Gooseberry - 12"-15"). On blackcurrant and gooseberry, keep all buds to assist rooting. On red- and whitecurrant, remove all but the top 3 - 4 buds to prevent suckering (rub the buds out with your thumb). To prepare the cutting, make a horizontal cut just below a node at the base, a sloping cut away from the bud at the top - this helps to ensure the cuttings are planted the right way up.
Using a spade, prepare a slit trench in a sheltered location in free-draining soil (if on heavy soil, add some gritty sand to base of trench). Insert cuttings of gooseberries and red/whitecurrants to half their length, with blackcurrants, leave only top 2 buds above soil. Firm the soil and water in. Label the cuttings. They should be ready to plant out in the following autumn.
Before replanting gooseberry cuttings, rub out any shoots on the lower 4" of stem or any buds from the root area to avoid suckering.