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Gooseberry - Ribes hirtellum

Gooseberries are related to currants but are hardier and have more excellent pest resistance. Native to North America, the plant can withstand cold temperatures. Many cultivars have a hardiness zone rating of 3a, and the plants can withstand heat up to zone 7. Regardless of temperature, the shrubs thrive when planted in well-draining loam soils. Plants grown in warmer climates do best in cool, rich soils, and they enjoy full sun and circulating air.

Once propagated, growers can expect to reap a bountiful harvest in 12 to 24 months. Most shrubs are sold at this age, so planting a nursery shrub will provide you with harvest by the fall. But it is recommended to wait a year after planting before reaping the harvest. The plants grow quickly. Pulling back the colorful spent blossoms will quicken growth and help your plant gain a lush vibrancy. Gooseberries self-fertilize, so there is no need for multiple plants unless you wish to use them throughout your landscape.

The shrubs grow up to 60 inches high and are suited for trellising. The long stems will spread into a fan where they will provide lovely shade for a patio throughout the summer and twining interest in the cooler months. The leaves are a charming light green, as are the unripened berries. Once ripened on the branch, the berries are a sight to behold. Crimson, pink, green or white, the berries are translucent and delicate. The orbs cluster in twos beneath a flush of upright leaves. The foliage is replete with fan-shaped lobes and intricate veining.

The berries ripen throughout the summer and are ready to harvest over the course of four to six weeks. Many growers pluck the berries as they become ripe, remove the wilted flower and eat them individually. They have smooth, non-acidic, sweet taste.


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