Gooseberries

Gooseberries

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Gooseberries

Gooseberries

Gooseberries
Gooseberries
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Online Magazine

Gooseberries

By Robert Laurence

Few Americans have ever seen or tasted a gooseberry, let alone grown a gooseberry bush or tree. Rarely offered in even gourmet fruit stores and almost never listed on the menus of even the poshest Continental restaurants in the United States, the delicious fruit deserves far more popularity than it has among Americans. The luscious berries themselves are sometimes as big as eggs, and grow on handsome ornamental shrubs that bear heavily a short time after planting, take up little room, are easy to train as hedges or fence rows, require little care, and, if lack of sun is a problem in your garden, are the most shade tolerant of all fruits.

Unlike their American counterparts, British gardeners do not neglect the gooseberry; in fact, they have a taste fore the fruit that borders on the fanatical—over the centuries they have probably developed close to two thousand varieties of gooseberries with varying flavors and green, pink, red, white, and yellow skins. Gooseberries have been cultivated in England since the early sixteenth century. They had been raised elsewhere in Europe, Asia, and Africa some two thousand years before that and no one knows if the fruit was indigenous to Britain or if it was introduced at an early period and became naturalized, but the British certainly have done far more to improve the species than gardeners anywhere else.

How the gooseberry got its name is a puzzle to historians and etymologists. One theory claims that “gooseberry” is a mispronunciation of “gorge berry,” an early name for the fruit; a nice theory, except that “gooseberry” was used before “gorge berry,” according to what records there are. For similar reasons, most word detectives do not believe that the “gooseberry” is a corruption of groseille, the French name for the fruit, or the Dutch kruishes, which means “cross berry.” Perhaps a better explanation is that “gooseberry” is a corruption of the German Jansbeeren (John’s berry, so named because it ripens during the feast of St. John), which corrupted into the German Gansbeeren and was translated into English as “gooseberry” because gans means, “goose” in German. That, in fact, is about the only thing linking geese with the berry or plant—the goose doesn’t like gooseberries, isn’t even averse to them, just ignores them entirely. Neither were gooseberries customarily served with roast goose, as is often stated. The consensus is that “gooseberry” does come from some unknown association with the goose, plant names associated with animals commonly being inexplicable. There is even a theory, which holds, put simply, that the goose gave its name to a fool or simpleton (as in “a silly goose”) and that the green of the berry (suggesting a “greenhorn” or fool) became known as a goose (or “fool”) berry.

No matter how its name evolved, the British have celebrated the gooseberry in song and story as well as in actual fact. Gooseberries were so common in Elizabethan England that Shakespeare used the expression “not worth a gooseberry.” There were in early times “gooseberry shoes,” “gooseberry fairs,” and “gooseberry feasts,” and the fruit was used in cores of dishes. It was an old Norman practice to east green gooseberry sauce with mackerel, and for this reason gooseberries were called groseille a maquereau in French to distinguish them from currants, both of the fruits being groseilles. Pigeons and other fowl were stuffed with gooseberries, which were and still are prized for eating fresh out of hand when dead ripe, as well as in gooseberry pies, tarts, pastries, puddings, jellies, jams, and even a wine called “gooseberry” celebrated in poems by both Oliver Goldsmith and Charles Lamb.
Probably the most famous dish made form gooseberries is “gooseberry fool,” a dessert made of the fruit stewed or scalded, crushed, and mixed with milk, cream, or custard. Some say the “fool” in the dish is a corruption of the French verb fouler, to crush, but this derivation seems to be inconsistent with the use of the word. More probably the dish is simply named after other, older fruit trifles, the use of “fool” in its name is the sense of “foolish or silly” being suggested by “trifle”. In any case, gooseberry fool has been an English favorite since at least 1700 and Mrs. Glasse gives a recipe for it in her famous The Art of Cooking (1747). So widely known is the dish that an other plant is named after it, the English calling the willow herb Epilobrium hirsutum “gooseberry fool” because its leaves smell like the dessert!

One British writer though that when fully ripe gooseberries tasted nearest to grapes of any other fruit, but that description leaves much to be desired. The truth is that gooseberries have a unique flavor of their own beyond compare. They have been paid compliments by many discerning writers, but the words of little Marjorie Fleming, “Pet Marjorie,” the youthful prodigy of Sir Walter Scott, are most memorable. Wrote Marjorie in her quaint and charming diary shortly before her death at age seven: “I am going to turn over a new life and am going to be a very good girl and be obedient…here there is plenty if gooseberries which makes my teeth water.”

English gooseberries were brought to America by early colonists and cultivated varieties were featured as minor offering in our earliest garden catalogs, but the English fruit never caught on in America. Neither did our smaller-fruited native species. There were several reasons for this: thorny bushes; the need of the tastier English varieties for a milder climate with less extremes of cold and heat; small and inferior fruit on the native types; and the fact that gooseberry bushes host a serious disease of white pine tree. But certainly the reason the fruit didn’t succeed wasn’t that Americans dislike the taste of gooseberries. Green gooseberry pie, gooseberry relish, spiced gooseberries, and plump, juicy gooseberry eaten fresh off the bush were early American favorites that deserve a revival. With the new, improved varieties offered today, all gardeners, even those in hot climates, can grow the delicious fruit, so there is no reason not to try them.

WARNING!
Before beginning a discussion of varieties and cultural methods, the gardener should know that gooseberry bushes serve as hosts to a stage of white pine blister rust (“Pine Forest Disease”), a fungus accidentally imported into America at the turn of the century that kills valuable white pine trees. This fungus, which lives on gooseberry bushes and currants for part of its life cycle, at one time caused at least twenty-four states to forbid the planting of gooseberries or require a permit before anyone could grow the fruit. Today only Idaho, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington forbid the shipping of gooseberries into their jurisdictions without a permit, and dealer cannot sell you gooseberry bushes if you live in one of these states. Unless you decide to transplant gooseberries from the wild, nurseries will solve this problem for you, since they can’t ship gooseberries to areas in states are restricted, and gooseberries not infected by blister rust fungus are allowed to be planted elsewhere. In any event, restrictions or no, don’t plant gooseberries within 1,000 feet of white pine trees (pines with five needles in a bundle) or within 1,500 feet of any area where whit pine seedlings are being grown. You’re only asking for almost inevitable trouble if you do.

THE BEST AMERICAN GOOSEBERRIES TO GROW

All gooseberries are prolific, long-lived plants that bear when they are 2 to 3 years old and live up to 20 years-some plants growing under ideal conditions have lived over 40 years, and two famous English specimens growing against a garden wall reached to age of 60 years, each measuring over 50 feet from one extremity of the branches to the other. Three bushes should provide plenty of fruit for a family of four, each plant producing 3 to 4 quarts of berries at maturity. All varietyis are self-fruitful; that is, one gooseberry bush doesn't require ther gooseberry bushes planted nearby to ensure pollination and fruit. There are two quite distinct species that can be classified as American and English, and while the English are certainly by far the superior in taste and size, many American varieties have been developed that are well worth growing.

RIBES HIRTELLUM, as the American gooseberry is called, includes numerous named varieties, some produced by hybridizing the wild American specie with English varieties and others simply hybrids of our native wild gooseberry. Following are some of the better ones, listed in the order that most experts rank them. Generally, the reds are considered to be the sweetest.
PIXWELL. Prolific, pinkish red upon ripening, and the large fruit are "underslung" on the branches, hanging away form the thorns and making for easy picking. Developed as a hybrid of the American wild gooseberry R. missouriense by the North Dakota Experiment Station, Pixwell is a compact bush that will thrive anywhere gooseberries can be grown.
WELCOME. This University of Minnesota hybrid has very few thorns. Light pink when fully ripe, it is often picked when green for use in pies and preserves.

JOSSELYN (see Red Jacket, below).
POORMAN. A productive plant with large-fruited, pear-shaped bright wine-red berries that are very sweet when dead ripe, though the skin is rather tough. The upright to spreading bushes are larger than most varieties and noted for their freedom from diseases. Many experts say this is the best-flavored American variety of any color.
DOWNING. The best green-fruited variety, with sweet flesh, tough skin, and medium size. A vigorous, prolific, upright plant, Downing is one of the few gooseberries still offered in America that was grown here before 1900.

RED JACKET. Earlier than most American gooseberries, but smaller in size than most, too, this sweet, red fruited variety is sometimes offered as Josselyn.

Other American named varieties worth a try are Oregon, Como, Pearl, Houghton (another very old type), and Glendale (another hybrid of the native wild gooseberry).

American gooseberries are offered by many nurseries, including Burgess, Farmer, Field, Foster, Gurney, Miller, New York Co-op, Shumway, and Southmeadow.


THE BEST FOREIGN VARIETIES

English goosberries (Ribes grossularia) are more difficult to grow in America than the native hybrid types, but since they are perfection in gooseberries, many advanced gardeners will want to try them. They generally do not thrive except in the cool, dry regions of the Pacific coast, though gardeners on the East Coast and in other areas have raised them successfully with a little care. Though they aren't the gooseberries to begin gooseberry gardening with, a little time growing the fruit and studying its habits, combined with the hints given here, should enable most Americans to raise the fruit successfully.

The latest statistics I can find indicate that the English devote some 13,000 acres to gooseberry growing while Americans only plant 900 acres in the fruit. English gooseberry fairs over the past three centuries encouraged the development of thousands of varieties there. These fairs, offering prizes for the best fruits, led to the introduction of gooseberries with red, pink, yellow, green, and even white skins. Some were developed for flavor, others for size; some for eating out of hand, others for cooking. Generally speaking, the yellow-skinned types are most highly valued for flavor when eaten out of hand.

The incredible number of English gooseberry varieties makes a complete listing here impractical. Chautaugua (yellowish-green), Fredonia (red), Industry (red), and Columbus (red) are the English varieties most frequently grown in America. Varieties that the British prize are the large Careless, a white-skinned dessert type; Keepsake and May Duke, early types; and the dessert types Leveller, Shiner, Lord Derby, Gunner, Leader, White Lion, and Conson’s Seedling. Other famous English varieties are Achilles, a very large, late-ripening type; Catherina, a large, sweet, egg-shaped, golden-orange berry; Early Sulphur, said to have “a fine apricot-like aftertaste”; the early large Whinham’s Industry, which reportedly “does well under trees”; Whitesmith, one of the best greens; and the Worcesterberry, a large, blackish berry that may be cross between the gooseberry and black currant. English gardeners have grown gooseberries up to a record weight of over tow ounces and the size of a small apple—about 6 inches in circumference.

In addition, the Canadian Experiment Station has originated some thornless types of English plants, including the relatively thornless Captivator—all reds and delicious. Excellent, hardy, Finnish varieties include the very large, sweet Hinnomaki Yellow, which survives the severest of Finland winters and the big-bushed Lepaa Red, which is resistant to mildew.

A tree form of English gooseberry has been produced in America by grafting Ribes grossularia on vigourous understock of the mountain currant, Ribes aureum. The best source for English, Canadian, and Finnish gooseberries in the United States is the Southmeadow Fruit Gardens, which offers a full 16 varieties. Another source would be English nurseries like Thompson and Morgan, which may be able to put you in touch with English growers who specialize in gooseberries. These specialists might also be able to supply you with bushes of the following highly recommended types, which I’ve found in old English gardening books but can locate nowhere. The asterisked varieties have been recommended by writers for their large size, while all others have been praised for their flavor.


Reds

Conquering Hero, *Crown Bob*, Dan’s Mistake, *Dr. Hogg, Henson’s Seedling, Ironmonger, Keen’s Seedling, Lion’s Provider, London, *Miss Bold, Monarch, Plough Boy, Raspberry, Red Champagne, Red Turkey, Red Warrington, Rifleman, Rough Red, Wilmout’s Early Red, Wonderful.*.


Yellows

Broom Girl, Criterion, Drill,* Fanny, Garibaldi,* Gipsy Queen, High Sheriff, Lord Rancliffe, Moreton Hero, Mount Pleasant,* Peru,* Rumbullion, Smiling Beauty, Yellow Bill, Yellow Champagne.


Greens

Glenton Green, Green Gascoigne, Green London,* Green Overall, Green River, Green Walnut, Gregory’s Perfection, Heart of Oak, Hebburn Perfection, Jolly Anglers, Keepsake, Laurel, Lord Eldon, Pitmaston Greenage, Random Green, Roseberry, Stockwell, Telegraph,* Thumper,* Thunder.


Whites

Abraham Newland, Adam’s Snowball, Antagonist,* Bright Venus, Careless,* Cheshire Lass, Crystal, Early White, Hero of the Nile,* King of Trumps, Lady Leicester, Mayor of Oldham, Princess Royal, Queen of Trumps,* Royal White, Snowdrop, White Champagne, White Fig, Woodward’s Whitesmith.


GOOSEBERRIES TO GATHER

The name “gooseberry” has been applied to many fruits growing in the wild. A number of these, like the Indian gooseberry (Vaccinium Frondosum), are not true gooseberries despite their resemblance to the plant and have not place here. But others deserve mention as possible garden curiosities, or for those who wish to gather their gooseberries in the wild. I know of no nurseries offering these, so only gardeners willing to search the woods can sample them or bring back cuttings to plant:

RIBES HIRTELLUM. The American wild gooseberry or currant gooseberry. Small, purpulisy-black fruits less than half an inch diameter on a very thorny plant.
RIBES OXYCANTHOIDES. The wild mountain gooseberry. Has reddish-purple berries half and inch in diameter.
RIBES ROTUNDIFOLIUM. Good-flavored, glabrous, purple fruit on a plant armed with small, inconspicuous solitary thorns.
RIBES CYNOSBATI. The prickly gooseberry. Dark-brown, eatable berries on a thorny plant found in the Catskills and North Carolina.
RIBES DIVARICATUM. Small, purplish-black, glabrous berries one third of an inch in diameter on a large shrub that grows up to 10 feet tall and is armed with large thorns nearly an inch long.
RIBES VALDIVIANUM. Very similar to the above except that the shrub grows to only about 6 feet tall and is more branching in habit.
RIBES LACUSTRE. The swamp gooseberry. Thoreau mentions this native plant in his Maine Woods, recalling how he “saw the swamp gooseberry with green fruit.”


WHEN, WHERE, AND HOW TO PLANT

Autumn or early spring is the best time to transplant gooseberries, the earlier the better in spring, as the buds open with the first seasonal warmth. Gooseberries tolerate cold well and prefer a moist, partially shaded spot in the garden. Shade is particularly important in hot climates, where the plant finds it tough going. Remember that gooseberries can find it tough going. Remember that gooseberries can stand more shade than any other cultivated fruit; about half day’s sun is all they need. The English varieties especially dislike hot American summers and usually refuse to grow well except close to the Great Lakes and along the northern Atlantic and Pacific coasts. You might have good luck with them elsewhere, however, by planting bushes on the north or east sides of buildings, fences, hedges, or arbors, or even by planting them elsewhere, however, by planting bushes on the north or east sides of buildings, fences, hedges, or arbors, or even by planting them in the shade of trees.

Gooseberries flourish in many soils, but rich, moist, well-drained clay loams yield the best fruits. The plants generally do poorly in light loams or in sandy soils, and in dry soils they often suffer from premature falling of fruit. Though gooseberries will survive in the average good garden soil that grows flowers and vegetables, try to select a rich, moist soil. If this isn’t possible, remember the old gardening maxim that it is better to plants a ten-cent plant in a dollar hole than in a ten-cent hole. Work plenty of well-rotted manure and compost into the planting area and keep it well watered and mulched all summer long.

One gooseberry bush for every person in the family is recommended, since a self-fruitful gooseberry bush yields 3 to 4 quarts of berries. Order healthy one-year-old bushes for planting and set them into the ground 4 to 6 feet apart, in rows 5 to 8 feet apart if more than one row is planted. The gooseberry is a compact bush that usually doesn’t need the greater distances between plants except for very vigorous varieties, which are generally the midseason types. Five feet apart each way is a good average distance, if your supplier doesn’t specify otherwise. All varieties should be pruned of damaged roots and set in their planting holes with their lower branches a little below the soil to encourage them to grow into a bush form. Once they are planted, water deeply and mulch the bushes to a height of 3 inches with sawdust, hay, straw, well-rotted manure, corncobs, or grass clippings to preserve moisture and keep the roots cool. (See Appendix II for other mulches.)


Space Savers

Gooseberries do well in partial shade, and there’s usually shady space to spare in most gardens. Since the bushes grow only about 3 feet high and take up very little space, a single gooseberry, with its attractive foliage, can be set in among foundations or border plantings. Or a bush can be planted in a fence row, or between young fruit trees and grapevines.

Another space-saving alternative is to prune gooseberry plants to a singe teen stem and grow them as standards, which do not yield as well but give bigger berries and can be planted much closer together in the garden row. The bushes can also be trained as espaliers: against a wall with a northern aspect where summers are very hot, or on a southern wall where there isn’t much sunshine.


PRUNING

Gooseberries bear fruit buds at the base of one-year-old wood and form spurs on older wood. The bushes will yield for a long time without pruning, but will bear more fruit and larger berries if pruned every year. Pruning should be done when the plants are dormant-after the berries fall in autumn and before growth begins in spring. The first year, after the fruit is picked, cut out all weak shoots at the base, leaving about six strong branches. In subsequent years remove all branches older than three years and limit each plant to about fifteen strong branches very close to the ground. Since the best fruit is borne on two-tear-old canes and shoots from three-year-old canes, this pruning practice will ensure good quality. After the third year, a well-pruned bush should ideally have five three-year old canes, five two-year old canes, and five one-year-old canes of the previous summer’s growth.

Pruning is sometimes necessary to prevent powdery mildew on gooseberries. European varieties are especially susceptible to this disease, which can often be discouraged by keeping an open head on the bushes; that is, by cutting out twigs to develop open-spreading tops that aren’t too dense. For the same reason, cut out all branches that lie too close to the ground. On the other hand, gooseberries grown in the South should not be pruned too thin, as a dense-headed bush will provide shade for the fruit.

When gooseberries are trained as espaliers against a wall, the fan system of training may adopted, part of the old wood being pruned annually. Or young plants can be planted 3 feet apart along the wall and pruned so that three shoots from each run perpendicularly along the wall at equal distances.
Where gooseberries are not thinned by pruning-and some British gardeners prefer to do no pruning at all-branches heavily laden with freight on pendulous varieties can be prevented from touching the ground by propping them with forked sticks.


CARE OF GOOSEBERRIES

Fertilizing
Though gooseberries are heavy feeders, they will need no additional fertilizing the first year if plenty of decayed manure is worked into the soil at planting time. Every autumn thereafter work manure, bone mean, or cottonseed meal into the soil near the outer branch line of each plant, being careful not to disturb the shallow roots, and replenish the mulch around them. Other choices are to fertilize with 8 ounces of nitrate per plant, or a couple of handfuls of 5-10—5 fertilizer per bush. Where soils are very light, an application of sulfate of potash at about 4 ounces per plant every other year will prove helpful.

A good way to promote deep root growth in gooseberries is to fertilize down to a depth of about 8 inches by forcing a spading fork into the ground in a circle around the outer edge of a plant and filling the holes with fertilizer. Remember to use only one of the above fertilizing methods every year. Overfertilizing gooseberries often results in lost of foliage and no fruit. Should this prove a problem, try not fertilizing for two years and see if the bushes begin to bear.


Watering and Weeding

Use a deep mulch and practically all watering and weeding of gooseberries is eliminated. Manure, sawdust, or hay make the best mulches for the plants (see also Appendix II). Be certain, however, that the mulch is restored from year to year, as it breaks down, and water occasionally so that the ground never dries out around the bushes. If you choose not to mulch plants, water frequently and weed the plants carefully, never disturbing the roots by cultivating too deeply.


Insect Pests and Diseases

You may never be bothered with insect’s pests or diseases on young gooseberry bushes, but the plants are not immune to predators. Here are the most troublesome ones and ways to combat them.

POWDERY MILDEW. Furry white to light brown patches on the leaves, canes, fruit is usually evidence of this fungus disease, which occurs in wet areas, generally in spring and fall, and can cause defoliation and thus a sparser crop the next year. As noted, pruning will discourage powdery mildew-plants with at least a half-day of sun and adequate air circulation aren’t severely affected by it. The disease can also be controlled by spraying with either Bordeaux mixture; dormant spray of lime sulfur; the fungicides Karathane or Miragard; or various all purpose fruit tree sprays. Be sure to follow the manufacturers directions carefully when using any of these sprays. And burn all branches infected with powdery mildew that are pruned from gooseberry bushes.

LEAF SPOT DISEASE. Dark spots on older leaves, canes, and fruits, beginning on lower leaves and resulting in the defoliation of plants toward the end of summer if not treated. Often occurs in wet areas. Spray the plants with Bordeaux mixture as soon as leaf spot disease appears. The following year spray three times: after blossoms fall, after harvesting fruit and three weeks after harvest. Help prevent the disease by refraining from fertilizing too heavily with nitrogen.

ANTHRACNOSE. Use the same treatments as for Leaf Spot Disease, above. Welcome is a particularly anthracnose-resistant variety.

CURRANT BORER. Yellowish white grubs or caterpillars that bore inside the canes in spring, leaving dead, hollow canes with black centers and causing the dwarfing of the plant. The only control here is to cut off the infected canes at ground level and burn them immediately.

IMPORTD CURRANT WORM. Large (up to one inch long) green worms with black spots that attack in early summer and can strip a bush of leaves in a few days. Handpicking the worms is possible if you have only a few bushes, but extensive plantings are best sprayed with Sevin or dusted with Garden Guard, rotenone, or pyrethrum as soon as damaged is noticed.

CURRANT FRUITWORMS. Small (1/3 inch), tapering, whitish maggots of small yellow flies. Adults are gray moths. The worms bore into fruit, causing them to redden prematurely and drop off. Controls are the same as for the Imported Currant Worm, above.

CURRANT APHID. Small, yellowish to dark green plant lice, which suck juice from the underside of leaves, causing them to become crinkled and red and curl downward. Probably the worst pest of gooseberries, aphids can sometime be controlled by handpicking the curled leaves and destroying them, or by spraying the leaves thoroughly (on both sides) with an organic spray made of garlic, oil, and green soap. Ladybugs introduced into the garden will also control them. Chemical controls includes include a dormant lime sulfur spray used before the buds swell in spring to kill the aphid eggs, and malathion 50 per cent spray used when the insects appear.

SCALE. Various types (brown, elongate, tapering, or round waxy scale) under which the tiny insects live usually at the bases of canes. Spray with superior type dormant oil emulsion before growth starts in spring, and repeat, using low dosage, just before and after blooming. Ladybugs introduced into the garden also help control scale, feasting on the insects.

MITES. Use the same treatment as for Scale, above.

BIRDS. Birds sometimes damage gooseberry fruits but can be thwarted by netting the fruits as they ripen. Birds do far more good than bad, however, devouring currant worms and other pest.


PROPAGATING GOOSEBERRIES AND CREATING NEW VARITIES.

Gooseberries can be increased by seeds, hard- and softwood cuttings, or layers. Propagating the fruit by seed is only done to originate new varieties, as none of the existing varieties reproduce themselves true from seed; often, in fact, the fruit of seed propagated gooseberry bushes is a different color than that of the parent plant. If you want to create new gooseberry varieties, just take seed form a ripe fruit, wash it thoroughly, removing the pulp, and dry it on a piece of paper. Sow the seed in the open ground in spring after all danger of frost, covering with about an inch of light soil. The young seedlings will be big enough for transplanting the following autumn and should fruit after about three years of growth.

Propagation by cuttings is the commonest method of increasing gooseberries, though the cuttings do not always ‘take.’ Hardwood cuttings are generally used, these taken in early autumn, but gooseberries will also root from half ripe cuttings in summer. In the fall, strong, well ripened, one-year shoots should be selected and cut off at their junction with the older wood. Trim each cutting to about 10 to 12 inches long and remove all eyes or buds from the lower half of the cutting. Insert the cuttings about 6 inches apart in a 4 inch deep trench in open, moist ground, and then fill in the trench. Another method is to store the cuttings in sand, sawdust, or peat mossin a cool place over the winter and then plant them in the spring. In either case, give them 1 to 2 years in a protected location before transplanting to their permanent place in the garden.

Layering is the easiest way to propagate gooseberries. One method is simply to lay a large branch on the ground, peg it into the earth with a clothespin (or wedge it down with a rock), and cover it with light soil, taking care not to bury the tip. The new plant should be rooted and can be moved to another location the same season. An alternate method is to mound layer one old plant. In about mid July slit the stem bark on as many branches as you want new plants from. Then mound soil over the base of the entire plant, covering the wounded areas on each branch. When roots form in the wounded places, usually by the following autumn, the newly formed plants are severed from the mother plant and set out in their permanent location. The major problem with all types of layering-something adherents of the method seldom point out-is that plants from layers are not so symmetrical as those raised from cuttings.


HARVESTING GOOSEBERRIES

Except for the thornless varieties and ‘underslung’ types like Pixwell, gooseberries are the most hazardous fruit to pick, since the canes and shoots are adorned with abundant thorns. Each gooseberry bud produces 1 to 3 berries, not big clusters of berries like currants. The bushes berries, not big clusters of berries like currants. The bushes bear at 2 to 3 years old and are producing big crops by the time they’re 4 to 5. the best way to harvest them is to don a pair of heavy work gloves, steadying a can with one hand stripping the berries off with the other –the few leaves that come off with the berries can be removed from the basket later. Some gardeners combine pruning with picking, cutting off branches that must be pruned and taking the severed branches to a table where they can sit down and pick at ease. Both the stems on one end of the gooseberries and the blossom collars on the other end should be removed when the berries are prepared for eating or recipes.


GOOSEBERRY DELIGHTS

Here are some traditional gooseberry recipes-many of them British favorites for centuries-and a few mouthwatering innovations as well.


GOOSEBERRY FOOL

1 pound green 1-pint water
Gooseberries 1-cup heavy cream,
cup sugar whipped

Stew the gooseberries with sugar in one pint of water until they are very soft. Puree` through a food mill, taste for sweetness, and chill before serving with whipped cream.


GOOSEBERRY TARTS

Wash 4 cups of gooseberries and drain. Cook slowly with 1 cups sugar and cup water until berries are tender, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 tablespoon solid shortening and 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind. Pour into baked tart shells and garnish with whipped cream.


GOOSBERRY JELLY

Boil 6 pounds of unripe green gooseberries in 6 pints of water until soft. Pour them into a bowl and let stand covered with a cloth for 24 hours. Then strain through a jelly bag, and to every 2 cups of juice add 1 pound of sugar. Boil the jelly 1 hour, then skim it and boil for hour longer.


GOOSEBERRY SOY

Take 6 pounds of gooseberries that are nearly ripe and 3 pounds of sugar, 2 cups of vinegar, and boil all together until quite thick. Season to suit your taste with ground cloves and cinnamon. This is eaten with meats and keeps a long time.


GOOSEBERRY CATSUP

Eight pound of ripe fruit, 2 cups of vinegar, 4 pounds of brown sugar, 2 ounces each fine cloves and cinnamon tied in a bag. Cook the berries, vinegar, and sugar over medium heat for 3 to 4 hours, then add the spice, boiling a little more. Put the catsup in a jar and cover it well.


PICKLED GOOSEBERRIES

Add 1 pint of vinegar and 3 pounds of sugar to 6 pounds of gooseberries. Cook over medium heat 20 minutes. Add 3 more pounds of sugar and cook 20 minutes longer. Seal in glass jars.

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