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Fruit that can be sweet or sour? Well, depending on the variety, gooseberries (Ribes sp.) can either be beautifully sweet or cause your lips to pucker up (great if you’re practicing for the kissing booth!). The sour varieties are best cooked in pies, crumbles or jams while the sweet ones can be eaten straight from the bush (look for ‘Captivator’ and pick when fully ripe).

They won’t grow in all areas though – these small bushes (up to 1.5m tall and wide), are best suited to cool to cold climates. Buy them as cuttings or bare rooted plants. Treat them well and you can normally expect fruit after a couple of years. 


How to grow gooseberries in a garden

  1. Choose a sunny spot with well drained soil, ensuring there is protection from the hot afternoon sun and strong winds. Enrich the soil with Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. If the soil is clay based, add gypsum and fork in well. 
  2. Dig the planting hole, position the bare rooted plant or cutting in centre and backfill with soil, gently firming down. If planting more than one plant, ensure you space them at least 1.5m apart. Form a raised or doughnut shaped ring of soil around the outer edge of the plant's root zone. This helps keep water where it's needed. Always water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots and keep the soil moist for several weeks while the new plant establishes.
  3. Mulch with an organic mulch, such as bark chips, sugar cane or pea straw ensuring to keep it away from the canes.
  4. Feed in spring and summer Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food – this product is high in potassium and will encourage flowering and fruiting.
  5. Harvest fruit when they have changed colour to red/purple.
     
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How to grow gooseberries in a pot

  1. Choose a pot at least 400mm wide. Position in full sun and fill with quality potting mix. 
  2. Position the cutting in the hole and backfill with potting mix, gently firming down. Water in well.
  3. Water deeply, at least once every 2-3 days to ensure the potting mix is moist - you may need to water more often in warmer conditions.
  4. Mulch around the base with organic mulch like bark chips, sugarcane or pea straw, keeping it away from the trunk.
  5. Feed in spring and summer Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food – this product is high in potassium and will encourage flowering and fruiting. 
  6. Harvest fruit when they have changed colour to red/purple.

     
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Growing tips

  • Prune in winter to an open vase shape. Choose 3-4 of the strongest branches and cut them back by half. This is important as fruit is borne on wood at least 1-3 years old. 

  • Remove any dead or diseased growth, any branches growing towards the centre and any low growing shoots at the base of the bush. 
  • The bush can be quite thorny, so use gloves and take extra care when pruning and harvesting.

  • Look for ‘Captivator’, ‘Roaring Lion’ or ‘Farmer’s Glory’ varieties. 

Project guides & articles

Blackberry

Blackberries (Rubus canadensis) are amazing to eat fresh from the bush or made into jams or pies.

Blueberry

Blueberries are ideal fruiting plants for the home garden with their prune-able size habit, they are small enough to fit into any garden.

Loganberry

What do you get when you cross a raspberry and a blackberry? The best of a both worlds - a loganberry!

Mulberry

Hard to find, but easy to grow and an absolute delight to eat, mulberries (Morus spp.) deserve a spot in your garden.


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