Growing Gooseberries In Pots
Gooseberries produce fruits that are small and tart in flavor. Some can tolerate the tartness and eat them as they are, but others will prefer to eat gooseberries sweetened in the form of a jam or as an addition to a desert.
Either way, growing gooseberries in containers can be very easy. You can buy gooseberry seeds from a local garden store or order them online. You should try to choose a hardy plant that is resistant to disease and pests.
When to grow your Gooseberries
Start your cultivation by November to March when weather conditions permit planting when growing gooseberries in pots. You just need one plant to pollinate the flowers for producing fruit. Others recommend planting gooseberries around October when the soil is warm enough to allow the plant to establish its root system.
There are also those who suggest planting up to February as long as the soil is not waterlogged, or worse frozen. The soil used for planting gooseberries must be prepared at least 2 weeks before the scheduled planting.
No matter what type of gooseberry you plan to grow, you must only allow one plant per container. Growing more than one plant will result in the plants fighting for nutrients, increasing their susceptibility to diseases and pests. The pot should be at least 18 inches wide and 2 feet deep when growing gooseberries in containers.
Choosing a pot to grow your Gooseberries in
A terra cotta pot can be used, although you can use other containers if you want. It is wise at the outset to ensure that the pot is durable enough to last for several years. Holes must be drilled at the bottom of the pot to prevent water from accumulating inside the pot. Add in a layer of small pebbles at the bottom to promote drainage or small pieces of broken terra cotta pots.
You can also use a fiber glass matting to cover the bottom to promote drainage and prevent pests from getting into the pot. These additions that you will place inside the pot can help prevent soil erosion. You can create or purchase a self-watering pot to make sure that your plants will not dry out during warm weather conditions.
What potting mix to use to grow your Gooseberries in
Gooseberry can grow in any type of soil as long as it retains water well and has enough nutrients to keep it growing. Soil must be prepared prior to planting, especially if you are using nonorganic or commercial fertilizer. Adding in fertilizer at the exact date of planting will burn the roots of your plant once they come in contact with raw nitrogen content.
You can use a fertilizer that has 8-32-16 or 10-10-10 N-P-K nutrients in them. Add them to the soil according to package instructions to prevent over-fertilizing. Organic fertilizer such as compost is best to put into the soil as they also condition aside from giving nutrients.
Do not use ordinary garden soil when growing gooseberries in pots. They have pathogens that can harm your plants once they start growing. Invest in a good potting soil that can be bought in your local garden or nursery store. Choose the best one as substandard potting mixes only work well for a certain amount of time before clumping together and drown your plants. Adjust the pH of your potting mix so it will have a range of 6.2-6.5.
Growing Gooseberries at home from seed
Seeds can be started indoors with the use of a regular baking tray or peat pellets prepared for seed growth. If you’re using a small pot or a tray for cultivating seeds, place in enough of the prepared potting mix to cover the tray.
Place seeds spaced 3 inches apart and cover them with ½ inch of compost. Water well and cover with plastic that can trap in moisture and heat as well. Place underneath a growing light or by the window away from direct sunlight.
Thin the seedlings once they have 2 true leaves by snipping off a seedling at soil level. Seedlings must have a spacing of 6 inches for proper growth. If you are using peat pellets, score the top with a bamboo skewer and place 2 seeds inside. Cover with ½ inch soil or compost and water well. Snip off the weakest seedling once 2 true leaves form. Keep the growing medium moist and harden seedlings 2 weeks before planting outside.
Growing Gooseberries at home from seedlings
Growing gooseberries in containers can also be started by using transplants from an established plant. Harden off transplants 2 weeks before planting them outside if it is bought from a nursery. Dig a hole that is at least 4 inches deeper than the pot of your transplant and cover the bottom with 2-3 inches of good compost.
Carefully remove the plant from the pot. Leave in the pot if it is biodegradable. Place the plan inside and cover with soil. Once you reach the top of the original pot, cover it with an inch of compost and water the transplant well.
If you are using transplants or cuttings from a neighbor’s plant, dig a hole that has a diameter of 6” and about 3-5 inches deep. Cover the bottom with 1 inch of compost and place the cutting at the center of the hole. Cover with soil and water well.
Looking after your Gooseberries
Your plant will require watering and feeding as well as protection from certain pests and diseases. Keep the soil damp but not wet. Your plant will need pruning between November and March. You can prune them early in the winter and protect them from birds by placing netting system that is designed to ward off birds and not cause them injury.
Pruning is done with the use of pruning shears set to an angle. Branches are removed when they reach the center and crossing branches must be removed as well. New branches are pruned by half if they are from the leading shoot. Side shoots are pruned down to 2 inches from the main stem.
Sawfly caterpillars can harm plants by stripping the leaves before the fruit has the chance to ripen. They can be controlled by using pyrethrum that claims not to affect the fruit for consumption. Control them organically by using seaweed or kelp fertilizer.
Aphids are also a problem, although they can be kept at bay with a blast of water and spraying your plant with compost tea. Mildew attacks can also happen when your plant is given too much nitrogen or placed in an area that has low air circulation.
Damp leaves are also prone to getting powdery mildew. When growing gooseberries in pots, make sure that you water the soil and not the leaves as much as possible. Give your plants fertilizers high in potassium to promote growth of resistant shoots.
When to harvest your Gooseberries
With proper care and management, your Gooseberries will be available for harvesting around the middle of August to middle of September.