When to plant
Plant gooseberries in October while the soil is still warm.
Where to plant
A sunny position is ideal but they will tolerate part shade.
How to plant
To give them the very best start, prepare the ground in August by digging a 1m (3ft) round hole and incorporating well-rotted manure, or good garden compost and general fertiliser.
Space bushes at least 1.5m (5 feet) apart spreading roots evenly in the hole and fill in, firming soil with your foot.
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When to prune
Prune in November, shortening side shoots to encourage fruiting spurs and keeping bush open in the centre so that air can circulate, which discourages mildew and makes picking the gooseberries much easier.
Caring for gooseberries
Mulch with layer of organic matter (compost or bark) in spring to suppress weeds.
Gooseberries need a moist soil, crucially when fruit is being formed, so water during dry spells throughout the summer. Delay spraying for mildew once flowering is finished and bees have moved on.
As berries swell keep off excess rain by covering pen with an umbrella or rhubarb leaves.
When to pick
Berries ripen over summer, but are traditionally thinned on Barnaby Day (June 11) though some start as early as Whitsunday (3rd week in May). Take about half the crop off, and eat these thinnings cooked.
When bushes come into leaf in March watch for signs of sawfly caterpillars, which shred the leaves.
Cover with netting to protect from birds from May onwards when young fruits are formed. It’s a good idea to keep them protected all the time as birds feed on the buds in winter too.
Find out about using nematodes to get rid of gooseberry sawfly
Best gooseberries to grow
Vigorous and high yielding, producing large, pale green berries. For dessert and cooking.
Full flavoured red-fruited variety, almost thornless, large sweet fruits with excellent mildew resistance.
Excellent disease resistant variety forming compact bush with bright green fruits, excellent for cooking.
Red, delicious dessert gooseberry, resistant to mildew.
Red-fruited variety, good for partial shade and heavy soils, but prone to mildew.
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