GROWING CURRANTS & GOOSEBERRIES
It’s GOING TO BERRY DELICIOUS…
Currants and gooseberries grow well in Indiana but are seldom available commercially. Both grow on bushes; gooseberries are most often used in pies, and currants in jams & jellies.
PLANTING – Currants and gooseberries prefer a rich, moist but well-drained soil and tolerate clay loam well. Because they can scorch in full sun, they are one of the few fruits that can be planted in partial shade. Due to their early bloom cycle, they should be planted on high ground where late frosts are less likely to damage them. Mix liberal amounts of peat moss and/or composted manure into the planting bed. Space plants 4’-5’ apart (bushes grow 3’-4’ in height and width!). Leave enough space between plants for good air circulation; otherwise, mildew can become a problem. Apply a thick layer of mulch to control weeds and help maintain moisture levels. Fertilize each year, in early spring or late fall. Apply ¼ pound of commercial fertilizer per bush (10-10-10 or 12-12-12), or use 1 cup of Espoma’s GardenTone per bush if you prefer an organic fertilizer.
PRUNING – The best fruit is produced on spurs of 2- and 3-year-old canes. Prune in late fall or very early spring (when plants are dormant). After the first season, remove all but 6 or 8 of the most vigorous shoots. After the second season, remove all but 4 or 5 of the current year’s canes and 3 or 4 of the 2 nd year canes. After the third season, keep 3 or 4 canes of the 1 st , 2 nd , and 3 rd year canes (a total of 9 to 12 canes). Canes older than 3 years produce very little fruit; after the first three years the oldest canes and the weakest young canes should be removed each year. In this way, a bush will always have 6 to 10 productive canes, and 3 to 4 new canes getting ready to bear the following year.
HARVEST – Currants should be picked before totally ripe. Remove entire clusters, and try to not mash the berries. Gooseberry bushes have thorns! Wear gloves when harvesting, and pick when the berries are fully sized but not totally ripe. Gooseberries and currants should be washed and dried gently before freezing. Remove the stems unless you plan to juice them, and then place on a cookie sheet and freeze in a single layer. Once frozen, they can be put into freezer bags and kept in the freezer for up to 2 years.