The Vegetable Garden

How to Grow Gooseberries & Currants

How to Grow Gooseberries & Currants

Gooseberries are some of the most underrated and overlooked fruits - and you’d think with a name like that, they’d know a thing or two about standing out. They’re a rare sight on a supermarket shelf and barely ever make appearances in modern recipe books.

You might be more familiar with their cousins, currants, who frequent jams, jellies, tarts, pies, and more fresh and fruity delights. With red currants, blackcurrants, and many more falling under the ‘currant’ branch, there are plenty of flavours to be explored in this tangy family. 

Once established, your currant or gooseberry plant can produce a glut of fruit every year for over a decade. And whilst they’re not all sweet enough to snack on, you can get creative in the kitchen with jams, fools, jellies, pastries, smoothies, and desserts.

Let’s dive into the best practices you can take up when it comes to how to grow gooseberries and currants plus how to care for these plants once they’re grown to make sure that your produce is as juicy, delicious, and fresh as can be.

  • Soil Preparation
  • Planting Gooseberries and Currants
  • Plant Care
    • When to prune gooseberries
    • When to prune currant bushes
    • Other tips
  • Harvesting

Soil Preparation

Before growing your gooseberries, choose a sheltered area of the garden, avoiding exposed sites. Both currant bushes and gooseberries do best in full sun but will also fruit reasonably well in partial shade. In order to get the best results from your fruit plant, you want to keep your soil moist and fertile with farmyard manure.

Planting Gooseberries and Currants

All varieties of gooseberries and currants can be planted in rows 1.5-1.8m (5-6ft) apart. Spread the roots out carefully in each planting hole and, after refilling, tread the soil in thoroughly to firm the bushes in.

After planting, cut all shoots back to about 5cm (2in) or two buds above ground level.

Plant Care

Now for the most important part: taking care of and maintaining your gooseberry and currant plants. We've got plenty of advice, answering questions such as when to prune gooseberries and how to best fertilise your currant plants. 

When to Prune Gooseberries

Wondering when to prune gooseberries? Don’t worry too much - pruning should only need to happen twice a year. When pruning gooseberries, you’re controlling the shape of the bush, keeping the centre open and increasing the number of healthy fruiting branches. After planting and each winter thereafter, cut back all main shoots by about half and lateral shoots to about 2 or 3 buds.

At the same time remove any broken, very weak, or crossing shoots, any suckers that might have developed from the ‘leg’ and any branches crowding the centre. Make each cut to an outward-facing bud, unless you are pruning gooseberries that have a rather drooping habit. In which case, cut to an upward-pointing bud. The formation of fruit buds will be encouraged if you also summer prune lateral shoots to 5 leaves at the end of June.

When to Prune Currant Bushes

The aim of pruning currants is to ensure that the oldest wood is continuously replaced with vigorous new growths. Blackcurrant’s fruit is best on one-year-old wood. At the end of the first growing season, you only need to worry about cutting any very thin or weak shoots less than 30cm (12in). In later years, pruning consists of removing any straggly or broken branches.

Other Tips

  1. Your bushes will benefit from an annual mulch, well-rotted manure, or compost to fight off weeds and keep that soil nice and moist.
  2. Each year in March, at the same time as you mulch, top-dress the plants with some balanced compound plant fertiliser to encourage flowering and fruiting. 
  3. Don’t beat around the bush - literally. Be careful with that hoe when weeding! Currants and gooseberries are shallow-rooting plants which can be easily damaged by an over-enthusiastic hand.
  4. Just because you’re making the most of the sunny weather doesn’t mean you’ve got an excuse to neglect your gooseberries on those drier summer days! You might be busy barbecuing but don’t forget to feed your plants too!

Harvesting

Now when it comes to when to pick gooseberries, you’re going to want to make two pickings - ideally one or two months apart.

If you and the family are keen to get creative and turn your gooseberries into jams, tarts, or pies, pick every other fruit in June while they’re still under-ripe and green. As for the rest of your gooseberries, leave them to ripen for an additional month or two to best enjoy all of their sweet and juicy flavours.

Get in Touch

We’re excited about planting the seeds of plenty of gardening ideas to help get the whole family involved in your outside space! Gardening is for everyone! So let us help you and the kids blossom into green-thumbed growers as you watch your tiny, tiny seedlings reach their full potential in your very own garden. 

Whether you’re keen to create a vibrant playground for bees and butterflies with our range of flower plants or show the little ones just how rewarding it is to watch your easy-to-grow veg seeds make their way all the way from the ground to the kitchen, Mr Fothergills has got all of your gardening essentials to get you started.

If you have any further questions about how to grow gooseberries and currants or curiosities about any of our other products, don’t hesitate to contact us or take a deeper dive into our gardening blog!

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