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Gooseberries are an easy-to-grow fruit that grow in the wild across all seasons, although they may prefer a sunny location. There are many species of gooseberries, from those that produce small, sweet yellow ones for culinary purpose to the kinds that are the large, red dessert type. These berries come in different colors, shapes and flavors. Yet, shop-bought gooseberries are usually disappointing in its size, quality and more importantly, its taste. Discover how you can grow bigger and juicier gooseberries in your backyard right away!
Quality of the soil
Prepare the soil thoroughly in a sunny, sheltered spot. A suitable soil condition for gooseberries is rich, slightly acidic and damp. Gooseberries can thrive in most gardens, making it rather easy for beginners in gardening to try out. Please note that in hotter days, the plant may like some afternoon shade and it is wiser to grow your plant nearer to the wall that could ensure partial shade for your plant. Fork over a wider area to loosen your soil and remove all the weeds before transplanting your stem as it could possibly prevent your gooseberry plant from getting enough water and nutrients from the soil.
Manure the root area with organic matter, such as rotted manure or garden compost along with sufficient amount of all purpose fertilizer, to conserve the nutrients in soil. Mix wood ash to the compost heap from time to time, as wood ash contains a good amount of potassium that will help your gooseberries to grow bigger and juicier. Yet, avoid over dependence on wood ash as the primary source of nutrients for your plant because wood ash is slightly alkaline which may damage the plant and soil. They also need some nitrogen, but not too much on the plant as this can lead to problems like gooseberry mildew or aphids.
Prune and train
As mentioned above, gooseberry plant is vulnerable to gooseberry mildew; it is a greyish-white powdery felt-like coating on the fruits, or technically it is a type of fungus that spreads across both leaf and stem, which starts out white on the skin eventually turning into light brown. Without proper treatment, gooseberry mildew can exacerbate by dieback of new growth.
Remedy: Remove any infected leaves or stems and exterminate them right away. Remember to plant your gooseberries stems further away (at least 90cm) from one another as poor air circulation may promote more problems. In addition, you may consider pruning them during late winter or early spring before growth begins.
• All dead, broken, problem branches should be removed by cutting them back at the main branches or shoots. By doing so, your main stems would be able to gather more nutrients and sunlight which aid in better growth.
• This next step is only applicable for those who need to train your plant. As you cut back branches in the previous step, your gooseberry shrub is trained to develop a desired shape. It is the best to prune your shrub to an open goblet shape, enabling light and air to perforate. Avoid damaging the natural shape and growth when trimming.
• To maintain the shape of your gooseberry shrub, trim off any limbs that sprout along the main shoot, and thin the shrub occasionally.
• Ensure that all cuts are smooth, do not leave stubs as they will decay, resulting in more diseases back to your main shoot. This would require a sharp pruning tool.
Do not let plants go short of water especially when their fruits are swelling or ripening. Although watering is seldom required for a gooseberry plant, you should monitor the condition of your plant carefully especially if your gooseberries are planted in a container which is bound to require more watering than those backyard-grown. However, if gooseberries are heavily watered after a dry spell, it can result in swelling which changes the taste of your gooseberries sour. On poor soil, mulching can help to retain a damp, moisture condition which is favorable to the growth of your gooseberry.
Prevent birds and pests
Last but not least, birds are indeed the scariest enemy to your plant as they not only steal the fruits; they also peck at them and even at the buds resulting in stunt growth. You could exclude them using netting or frighten birds away.
If you are planning to try out gardening in your backyard or even using a container, you may need to get some of the basic tools, seeds and organic fertilizer. The problem is where and what you should do after all the necessary items have been bought. Fret not, contact us today at Kings Country Nursery – one of the largest nurseries in Brooklyn. We have professionals that can answer all your queries about gardening, which will make your first gardening experience easy yet enjoyable.