Tuesday, July 7, 2015


I have three gooseberry plants. Two are Hinnonmaki Red. They are the two small ones to the side. I'm trying to make standards of them and they are resisting. But I think next year I'll get a decent harvest. The huge one in the middle is Invicta. It is a nice tart green gooseberry. I'm picking them a bit late this year, but I just didn't have time before my camping trip. Invicta is best in pies or jams when picked a bit green. Right now they are a touch too ripe. So they will miss a bit of that really tart flavor they have. They are still good but not perfect. The Hinnonmaki are the opposite. For me they are best eaten out of hand and ripe so they are sweet enough to eat that way - at least to me.

To harvest I clip off the branch with the fruit. I do this for two reasons. The older branches won't produce fruit. Though they could produce side branches that will, but they get so crowded it is hard enough to find the fruit as it is. And the second is that the thorns are vicious. The fruit is hanging down on the underside of the branch and trying to pick under such nasty thorns is dangerous. I keep thinking that I need welding gloves for this bush. Even being as careful as I can, with a garden glove on one hand to pick up the branch, I still draw blood.


Once the majority of the fruiting branches are out, I prune the rest of the bush back a lot. I take out any branch that is not going up as otherwise the gooseberries will set on the ground. And then I thin. I have one book that says to thin to six branches. I don't go that far. This is also an ornamental foundation planting by my front door. So I need some foliage left. Right now it looks pretty sad as an ornamental planting, but it won't take long for the bush to grow huge again.

Since this is an inground planting that isn't in my garden proper, it is owned by both townhouses, which means it isn't just mine. It is shared. Usually I'm too kind and pick all the gooseberries for my townhouse mates. After getting stabbed for the third time, I decided if they wanted to eat them they could pick them. I cut off three huge branches and put them in the shade by their steps. Even without those sprays of gooseberries, I picked over 5 pounds of them. I think I'll make some jam. Gooseberry jam is really good.


  1. I think vicious is the right word for gooseberry thorns! I have a Captivator bush and I let some go dead ripe to see how they taste. They got really sweet, but the skin is a bit thicker (and more tough) than Hinnomaki Red or Amish Red. I never thought about pruning as a part of harvesting, but it makes sense.

  2. That's interesting about the pruning. I wonder if I'm supposed to do it that way for my jostaberry. At least it doesn't have thorns!

  3. Excellent tip. I've tried to grow gooseberries for 3 years but have sucessfully killed about 5 plants. I don't think they can handle our dry weather. I'm trying them in wicking pots now, but that's their last chance. If I ever get a crop I'll be using your method!

  4. Wow, that plant really shrank, but it's amazing that you got 5 pounds of berries, it didn't look that big!

  5. Ow - those gooseberry bushes sound a bit painful! I'm probably one of the last people that hasn't tasted one even though I have a feeling I would like them; I'm partial to most things that are tart.

  6. I like the idea of harvesting and pruning at the same time. Seems so obvious. I need to harvest mine soon before the birds get them. I lost all my blackberries last month to the pigeons.

  7. I haven't had gooseberry jam in years, but a friend in western Canada used to make it and it was delicious! I remember being introduced to those pretty green globes of berries, but I don't remember the thorns...is there a thornless version? Or maybe they were SO awful I've blocked them out of my memory!

    1. I used to have what they called a semi thornless version. The taste was not worth growing. And it did have thorns. So all in all not worth growing.