Berry best of luck...

Do you want a fruit that’s easy to grow? Han­nah Stephen­son finds out how to cul­ti­vate goose­ber­ries

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS -

Goose­ber­ries have long been grown for their sharp flavour, which is ideal in tarts, crum­bles and jams. And with im­proved breed­ing work, grow­ers have im­proved mildew re­sis­tance and in­creased the qual­ity of the fruit as well as com­ing up with less thorny bushes.

But how should you grow them? Markus Ko­belt, founder of fruit spe­cial­ist Lu­bera, of­fers the fol­low­ing tips. When should you plant them and where? Goose­ber­ries in con­tain­ers can be planted all year long, but au­tumn is the ideal time. They can be planted in full sun or par­tial shade and are hardy and happy in al­most any type of soil. Af­ter re­mov­ing weeds and break­ing up the soil, dig a hole for plant­ing. Put com­post in the hole and add fer­tiliser.

LET NEW SHOOTS DE­VELOP

If you are plant­ing bushes, loosen the roots when you re­move them from their con­tain­ers and plant them in a hole double the size of the root­ball, plant­ing 5-10cm deeper than the sur­face of the con­tainer. This en­cour­ages new shoots to de­velop from the ground in later years, which are the base for qual­ity pro­duc­tion. Plant th­ese goose­berry plants around 1.2m (4ft) apart. Wa­ter them in well.

Plant bare root goose­ber­ries be­tween late au­tumn and early spring, spread­ing roots in the large hole where you are go­ing to plant them, back­fill with en­riched soil and make sure you firm it in well around the roots. Wa­ter them in well and keep an eye on mois­ture lev­els, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the dry sum­mer months, when they are likely to need fur­ther wa­ter­ing un­til es­tab­lished.

OP­TIONS FOR SMALL SPA­CES

If you have limited space, have a go with a berry stan­dard, a tree-like form with a bushy head on a short trunk around 1m in length.

Any growth ap­pear­ing on the trunk should be rubbed off when it ap­pears. The trunk should be staked as the head can be­come top heavy with fruit. Stan­dards can be sit­u­ated in the veg­etable gar­den, peren­nial bor­der or in a con­tainer on the pa­tio. Berry stan­dards en­able the plants to ven­ti­late bet­ter and dry off — so there is less dis­ease and more berries. How­ever, make sure any plants in con­tain­ers re­main moist.

COLOUR YOUR PLOT

Var­i­ous colours of goose­berry are avail­able, in­clud­ing the bright red, aro­matic ‘Crispa Nib­bling’, the new ‘Crispa Dar­ling’ and the yel­low equiv­a­lent ‘Crispa Goldling’, which all claim bet­ter tol­er­ance against mildew. For thorn­less types, try ‘Lady Sun’ and ‘Lady Late’. You can even buy the two va­ri­eties to­gether in one pot. More­berry’s ‘Yel­low & Red Goose­ber­ries’ pro­vide the slightly ear­lier ma­tur­ing ‘Lady Sun’ (late June/early July) with its sunny yel­low colour and sweet­ness and ‘Cap­ti­va­tor’, which starts to ripen at the end of the ‘Lady Sun’ har­vest, so you can en­joy goose­ber­ries for a longer sea­son, in July and Au­gust. The double berry com­bi­na­tion also al­lows the lush­est fruit set be­cause cross-pol­li­na­tion is eas­ier for the bees.

BRANCHING OUT: The ‘Crispa Dar­ling’ goose­berry

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