The easiest berries you can grow Gooseberry bushes thrive best when theyre neglected says MONTY DON making them the perfect plant for the time-poor gardener | Daily Mail Online
- There are over 150 cultivars to choose from (and over 3,000 have been recorded over the past 300 years) but
I have limited myself to ‘Invicta’, ‘Whitesmith’, ‘Greenfinch’ and the sumptuous red-fruited ‘Whinham’s Industry’.
For something a bit different try growing Gooseberry Langley Gage with a small transparent berry of exceptional sweetness.
- Once established, and as long as they have decent drainage, gooseberries thrive best on benign neglect.
- So I moved my ailing bushes to a new site, exposed to the wind that howls across my fields.
I added nothing to the soil they were planted in and began the practice of spreading the wood ash from our open fire around the base of the plants in spring.
This provides extra potash which does not aid the growth of green foliage (which is what the sawfly larvae love) but flowers and fruit (which are what I love).
I pruned my gooseberries carefully in March to establish an open goblet shape.
It has to be noted that the soft new growth that pruning stimulates is particularly attractive to rampant fungae and hungry caterpillars.
An old, unpruned gooseberry bush rarely gets troubled by sawfly or mould, presumably because it is too tough a mouthful.
But pests are so much easier to pick from an open, well-pruned bush.
- Sawfly hate wind.
A cordon shape – a single stem pruned back hard to spurs just a few inches long each spring – offers no shelter for them.
Wind has also helped keep at bay the grey mould (American mildew, Sphaerotheca mors-uvae) which used to cover the leaves by mid-summer.
- Now that the last of this season’s fruit has been picked it is a good time to prune the bushes lightly again, removing the floppiest of the new growth and ensuring that they remain open for the wind that does them so much good.
- Gooseberries grow well from hardwood cuttings taken in autumn from straight new growth, so leave the strongest new shoots unpruned.
Also pull up any suckers growing from the base of the plant; don’t cut them as it just encourages more regrowth next spring.