Gooseberries are an easy to grow soft fruit that can thrive in a range of different conditions. A gooseberry bush can give a big yield that can be eaten straight from the bush or used to make preserves or puddings.

Growing gooseberries:

Gooseberry bushes are usually planted in the late autumn or early spring as bare-root plants. Before you plant your bare root plants you should let them soak in a bucket of water for about half an hour. This will give the plants the strength they need to thrive and settle into their new home successfully. When planting them out, you should be sure to choose a good spot. Gooseberries will grow in a range of different conditions but prefer a spot in full sun and will fruit more abundantly in such a location.

Add manure or a good compost into the bottom of the hole in which you plan to plant your gooseberry plant and make sure that you keep the soil level at the same point on the stem that it was buried to in its previous location. You can see clearly on the stem now deeply the plant was buried before.

Make sure to keep the ground around your gooseberry plant free of weeds. The gooseberry bush does not appreciate competition. An organic biodegradable mulch could add slow release nutrients to the soil and help keep annual weeds down.

If you are planting more than one bush then you should be sure to give them adequate space. Gooseberry bushes should be planted at least 1.2-1.5m apart, or for cordoned examples, 30-38cm apart.

The plant should be well watered at all times when the fruit is beginning to form. You should keep an eye out for pests such as gooseberry sawfly and mildew, especially if the weather has been damp. Pruning the plants in summer will help to prevent disease problems that can be caused by poor circulation of air around them. It is also a good idea to prune bushes back by about half of their new growth so each stem has around five leaves – this will ensure the ongoing good health of the plants.

It may seem counter intuitive to remove fruits, but actually thinning out some of the unripe fruit can help ensure that the remaining fruits ripen successfully without the plant overtaxing itself. Pruning and training gooseberries will ensure a better yield in future years. The plants will fruit in July and August.

It is said that planting broad beans near gooseberries may deter pests, and tomatoes may help gooseberries to grow.

Why grow gooseberries in the garden?

Gooseberries are a delicious addition to a kitchen garden and also are a bushy fruit that works well in a sunny glade of a forest garden. Birds like the berries as much as humans do so these are also a good plant for a wildlife friendly garden as long as you don't mind sharing.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Ribes uva-crispa