Soil. Gooseberries will grow on almost any soil. The extremes of heavy and light only should be avoided.
This fruit is generally grown as a bush, although cordons can be trained. In an orchard these plants can be set 4 ft. to 6 ft. apart between the apple and pear trees, but where kitchen garden and fruit garden are combined a row tan be planted in any convenient part provided the position is sunny. Lack of a free circulation of air is the/greatest deterrent to growth. This encourages mildew, which affects both the shoot and the fruit.
Bushes or cordons can be put in any time from autumn to spring. Plant 6 ft. apart.
Gooseberries respond to both organic and artificial manures. If farmyard manure is obtainable, dig that in before planting and during the lifetime of the bush apply fish or meat meal in the spring, 4 oz. Per square yard. An alternative is to use basic slag, 4 oz. Per square yard, if you have a heavy soil, or kainit if it is light, applied at the same rate. Lime is essential for good gooseberries, and should be given each autumn, 8 oz. Per square yard.
Cultivation. Frequent hoeing during the summer months to keep the soil open and control weeds. Give a light forking between the -bushes in late autumn and leave the surface rough.
Gooseberry bushes will gradually increase in diameter, so that a further number of branches can be allowed to grow. Most young bushes start life with five or six branches. Prune to avoid overcrowding by removing dead and weak shoots. Sun and air should be able to enter the bushes on all sides to ripen both fruit and wood.
If branches tend to droop, cut them back to a suitable upward pointing bud and those tending towards the centre to an outward facing bud.
Careless, for cooking, green; Lancashire Lad, for dessert, red ; White Lion, for dessert, white.
In Depth Cultivation Tips
Soil and Situation. Gooseberries succeed on most soils that are reasonably rich and well drained. They flower early and are susceptible to spring frost. Nitrogen and potash are the two most essential foods. Preparation of soil should be the same as for apples. Lime is not essential.
Planting. The same as for black currants, except that rather less space is required by some of the weaker growing varieties. Average 4-5 ft. between bushes. Cordons should be planted in rows 4 ft. apart. In the rows singletstemmed cordons are spaced 1 ft., double stemmed 2 ft., and triple-stemmed 3 ft. apart.
Forms of Training. Gooseberries are usually grown as bushes on a short leg like red and white currants. Occasionally single, double or even triple cordons are grown, especially where fruits of extra quality for exhibition are required.
Pruning. This should be done in summer and winter, and in the main is the same as for red currants. It is important to keep the centres of bushes fairly clear or picking becomes difficult. For the same reasons sucker growths must be cut right out. Some varieties have weak or arching leaders. :These should be cut back each autumn to a strong, upward-pointing bud near the summit of the arch. A few varieties grow very erect. Leaders of these should be cut to strong outward pointing buds to keep the centre of the bush open.
Picking. This should start as soon as the most forward fruits are of useable size; generally about the beginning of June. Do not strip the bushes at first, but thin the fruits, leaving the remainder 1 in. or so apart, to continue swelling and ripening. Storing is impracticable, but all varieties are excellent for bottling.
Routine Feeding. Potash is of particular importance. Its lack is indicated by leaf scorching. To prevent this give sulphate of potash at 11 oz. per sq. yd., each October. Apply well rotted dung or compost each March at the rate of I cwt. to 15 sq. yd. or, failing this, nitrate of soda, Nitro-chalk, or sulphate of ammonia at oz. per sq. yd., followed by a mulch of grass clippings.
Routine Pest Control. Usually unnecessary, as foes are dealt with as noted. If greenfly, caterpillars, or scale insects are troublesome, spray each January with tartoil wash. If mildew, either American or English, is prevalent, use lime sulphur, washing soda or dinocap just before flowers open, and after flowering if necessary.
Propagation. By cuttings prepared and inserted in exactly the same way as those of black currants, except that all buds on the lower half of each cutting should be nicked out with a sharp knife. This is to prevent sucker formation.
Varieties of Gooseberry. Bedford Yellow (yellow) D, July; Broom Girl (yellow) D, July; Careless (white) C, July; Cousen’s Seedling (yellow) D, Aug.; Crown Bob (red) CD, July–Aug.; Dan’s Mistake (red) D, July–Aug.; Early Sulphur (yellow) D, July; Golden Drop (yellow) D, July; Green Gem (green) CD, July–Aug.; Gunner (yellow) D, July–Aug.; Keepsake (green) CD, July; Lancashire Lad (red) C, July–Aug.; Lancer (green) CD, Aug.; Langley Gage (white) D,
July–Aug.; Leveller (yellow) CD, July–Aug.; May Duke (red) CD, July; Warrington (red) CD, Aug.; Whinham’s Industry (red) CD, July–Aug.; White Lion (white) CD, Aug.; White-smith (white) CD, July–Aug.
(Note.—The months are those in which the varieties normally ripen. Colour of ripe fruits in brackets. C, culinary. D, dessert. CD, dual purpose.)