Carol Klein offers tips for planting container raspberries
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Gooseberries are delicious in a crumble, pie or just as they are. The most important condition to get right when growing gooseberries is the soil condition, which is much more important than the actual position they are planted in. Gooseberries do best in well-drained soil which has lots of nutrients, while the soil must also retain moisture without becoming water-logged. If these conditions don’t exist naturally in your garden, then you can create them in whichever area you plan on growing them in.
As far as the site is concerned, gooseberries prefer an open and sunny site.
The site should also be protected from any strong winds.
However, gooseberries really don’t like the heat of a sunny summer’s day as they do most of their growing and fruit production well before the heat of summer.
Therefore, they need lots of cool and indirect sunlight if they are to thrive and be fruitful.
A partially shaded site, however, will still do very nicely so don’t be put off if you can’t provide the perfect location.
Gooseberry bushes are extremely hardy plants, much more so than apple trees, for example.
If a late frost occurs when the flowers have formed, this shouldn’t be worried about too much.
Even when a frost does occur during the flowering period, your gooseberry bushes are unlikely to be adversely affected.
When are gooseberries ready to pick?
Gooseberries are fully ripe and ready for picking around late June to early July.
However, a better test for their ripeness is by touching them to find out.
Once the remaining fruit is soft to touch, that usually means they’re ripe and ready to be picked.
If you leave them for much longer after this point, they will likely start to deteriorate.
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If the gooseberry feels hard, then it’s probably not ripe while if it feels squashy it’s probably too far gone on the other side.
The second way to tell if a gooseberry is ripe and ready to pick is by tasting it.
A desert variety should taste slightly sour but have some background sweetness to it as well.
The taste test needs some experience so always taste a gooseberry or two while harvesting so you can accurately judge next year’s.
Some gooseberry varieties, such as Hinnonmaki Red, are red-ish in colour, as the name would suggest.
These varieties begin to go red as the season progresses before turning a deep ruby colour – at which point they are ready to pick.
If you plan to make gooseberry jam or a sauce out of them, then the more bitter taste of the slightly smaller fruits are the ones to pick first.
For making pies and other sweets, harvest only the gooseberries which have reached full size.
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