Gooseberries prefer a well drained, fertile soil, in a sunny position which is sheltered from cold winds. The site should be well worked to a depth of 25cm (10”) incorporating plenty of organic material such as well rotted manure or garden compost. Care should be taken to pick out all roots of perennial weeds.
Plant at the same depth as the plants enjoyed on the nursery (look for the soil mark on the stem) such that the small stem or leg is above ground. Prune the branches back by half preferably to an outward or upward facing
bud. Remove any branches closer than 10cm (4”) to the ground to maintain the plant’s ‘leg’.
Gooseberry Growing: Pruning
The aim is to produce an open bush with plenty of space in the centre for light to enter and to enable easy picking. Winter pruning should be carried out to maintain this shape by removing damaged, misshaped or obstructive branches with the emphasis always being to remove the oldest. In November to March prune back the new growth on the leaders by a half Prune back the new growth on the side shoots to about 5cm (2”)
Trim out dead, damaged and diseased wood, and try to keep the centre of the plant open, shorten new growth to 5 leaves from the base Prune to a bud such that new growth continues in a direction that suits. In addition to this branch removal all remaining branches should be reduced by half to promote bushiness and the remaining laterals on these branches should be cut back to about 2 inches – this will promote fruiting spurs.
Summer pruning of new growth will improve air circulation and let in light and may reduce the likelihood of summer storm damage. The tips of new growth should be shortened to 5 leaves at around the third week in June.