Gooseberries

Gooseberries – Grow Guide

Find out how to grow succulent, tangy gooseberries with help from this detailed grow guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do not Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do not Harvest in September

Do not Harvest in October

Do not Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

  • Plant size

    1.5m height

    1.5m spread

  • Average Yield

    3.5kg per bush

  • Spacing

    1.5m between rows

Overview

The plump fruits of a gooseberry bush are delicious cooked in pies or swirled into sweetened cream to make a fool. They’re easy to grow, and just a single bush will reward you with masses of berries for up to 15 years.

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Eat within a few days of picking or store them in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Growing gooseberries through the year

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Planting

Gooseberries aren’t fussy when it comes to soil type, but they do prefer it to be well drained and contain plenty of well-rotted manure or garden compost. Full sun is best, especially for dessert types, but they’re very tolerant of shade.

Spring or autumn is the best time to plant bare-root gooseberries. Space them 1.5m apart with a gap of 1.5m between the rows.

Gooseberries grow well in large containers of soil-based compost. Mulch the surface to keep weeds at bay.

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Tending the crop

Feed bushes in early spring with sulphate of potash (follow packet instructions) and a generous mulch of well-rotted manure or compost. Water well during dry spells.

Pruning is easy. In July or August, simply cut back this season’s soft growth to two or three leaves from the base. To prevent mildew, keep the centre of the bush open.

Although usually grown as bushes, gooseberries can also be trained as single upright stems or ‘cordons’, as well as fans on walls or fences. This makes the fruit easier to pick from the thorny stems.

harvesting-gooseberries-3

Harvesting gooseberries

Most gooseberries are ready to pick in July or August, but to ensure good-sized berries, thin out the bunches of fruit in June when the fruits are the size of a pea. These thinnings make wonderfully tart stewed fruit.

Storing gooseberries

Eat within a few days of picking or store them in the fridge for up to two weeks. Gooseberries freeze well.

Preparation and uses

Dessert varieties are delicious in fresh fruit salads. Ideally, you should pick and eat the berries on the same day. Gooseberries can be cooked in pies or stewed to make purées, jams and chutneys. Simply, top and tail them before cooking.

netting-a-gooseberry-bush-3

Troubleshooting

Net bushes when fruit starts to ripen to protect them from birds.

Gooseberry plants are susceptible to mildew. Choose resistant varieties and avoid planting in shallow, dry soil. Cut out affected shoots.

From mid-spring, look out for gooseberry sawfly larvae, which will quickly strip a bush. Pick off and squish or use a biological control.

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Space-saving gooseberries

Fancy growing gooseberries but don’t have much room? Then train them in a fan shape against a wall, fence or free-standing trellis.


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Space-saving gooseberries

  • ‘Careless’ – large fruits that turn transparent when ripe
  • ‘Invicta’ – green cooker, big crops, mildew resistant
  • ‘Leveller’ – yellow dessert variety with delicious flavour
  • ‘Pax’ – sweet, red berries on almost spine-free stems
  • ‘Whinham’s Industry’ – red dessert, large sweet berries, shade-tolerant and copes with heavy soil
  • ‘Whitesmith’ – a dessert/cooker with white fruits