Gooseberry on a personal plot
The great breeder Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin referred to gooseberries as nothing but northern grapes and not only because its fruits are similar to grapes, but due to the unpretentiousness of the culture and resistance to frost and drought. Biologically, gooseberries are considered a relative of currants and belong to the category of berry bushes.
Gooseberries have a rich history, but neither the Romans nor the Greeks, as archaeologists claim, was known; perhaps because of this culture is not overgrown with myths or legends. However, in Europe, and on the whole continent, without any exceptions, gooseberries have been growing for quite some time.
Not everyone knows that the first cultural gooseberry was obtained in France, there is reliable information about this dating back to the 13th century. The very first, most detailed description of this prickly culture was given by a French physician who lived in Paris around the beginning of the 16th century, Jean Royal. In his description, he mentioned the color of gooseberries, their taste, told that unripe fruits are used to make sauces and seasonings, and completely ripe are beautiful in fresh form. Jean Roal also mentioned that noble people, due to the presence of thorns on the shoots, do not plant gooseberries in their plots and rarely consume its fruits. Local healers, however, at that time attributed gooseberries to miraculous properties: supposedly its fruits helped to become pregnant and contributed to the full development of the fetus.
In addition to France, gooseberries were also successfully grown in England. It is noteworthy that not only the British gooseberries came to taste, but the English climate - gooseberries. As you know, the climate of England is characterized by warmth and high humidity; under these conditions, at that time gooseberries developed well and the mass of its fruits in this country, at that time, was maximum.
Breeders of that time, who were often simple peasants, picking bushes with large berries and propagating them by dividing, gradually, through selection, achieved in 60-70 years an increase in the mass of gooseberry fruits by almost five times. At the end of the 16th century, gooseberries were the leading culture in England, while currants were only the first mention, and it was not regarded as an industrial plant. In the middle of the 17th century, the vast majority of gooseberry varieties were precisely English breeding.
A little later, from France and England, gooseberries spread to Germany, from there to Holland, and then to other countries.
In Russia, the history of gooseberries evolved in parallel and there is unverified information about its cultivation in the gardens at the monasteries already in the 11th century, and others - that gooseberries first appeared also in the gardens at the monasteries, but much later - at the beginning of the 18th century. Whether it is true or not, gooseberries were valued in Russia, they were called “birch rooftops”, and hundreds of bushes were cultivated, each of which was recorded under its number in the respective magazines. In one of these magazines, owned by Prince Gagarin, it was noted that 80 gooseberry bushes grow on his land and it is written what color the berries are painted in each when fully ripened.
A real explosion in the popularity of gooseberries occurred in the 19th century, when extensive plantations of this culture began to be established everywhere. The reason for this was, among other things, breeders, again English, who bred varieties with fruits several times greater in mass until then the largest. These varieties began to be actively distributed in Russia, they replaced obsolete cultivars at that time. And it is not known what position gooseberries would be now if powdery mildew, which literally exterminated gooseberries in most of Europe, would not have hit the continent. Only recently have cultivars resistant to powdery mildew been obtained, and the gooseberry culture is slowly starting to revive and become massive.
The demand for gooseberry seedlings is growing, and this is not surprising, because this culture is valuable in food terms, characterized by early maturity, stable and fairly high yields, its fruits can be stored for a long (about a week) period and are perfectly transported over long distances, after being harvested in a couple of days until fully ripened. Gooseberries can be eaten fresh or used for various types of processing. At the same time, if the berries are picked unripe, then they make a wonderful compote, and overripe berries make a wonderful jam, which is called royal, and, of course, ripe berries are a wonderful healthy dessert.
Few people know that gooseberries are not only tasty and healthy, but also high-calorie: a kilogram of berries contains more than 500 kcal, especially a lot of calories in dessert varieties, characterized by high sugar content.
Gooseberry planting material is better to get in specialized nurseries, and not from the hands, where you can sell the wrong variety or a seedling in general. You can, by the way, learn to propagate gooseberries on your own, especially since it is not so difficult.
For example, one of the most common methods of vegetative propagation of gooseberries is the duplication of varieties by horizontal layering. For the implementation of this method, it is necessary in early spring, always before the buds open, to select the most developed shoots, bend them to the previously moistened and loosened soil and pin them with wooden or metal hooks. Gooseberry shoots can be laid both on the soil and in small grooves, 4-6 cm deep.
Next, you need to wait until the growth is activated and the shoots reach a height of 9-11 cm. After this, the gooseberry growths can be half-covered with loose soil, spudding, and watered. In the future, it is important to keep the soil moist, this will allow the well-developed root system to form on the shoots. Around the middle of summer, when the shoots become twice as long, the hilling should be repeated, increasing its height by a third.
In the fall, usually at the very end of September or the beginning of October, gooseberry shoots should be “bled” and separated from the mother plant with part of the root system, after which they can be planted in a permanent place in the soil. It is noticed that even with a small number of roots, literally with one hair, the gooseberry shoots pretty well take root in a new place. The main thing is, after planting these shoots, reduce the aerial part by half.
Gooseberries also breed well with lignified and green cuttings in a greenhouse. Lignified cuttings give roots not in all varieties of gooseberries. It has been noticed that the lignified cuttings of gooseberry varieties are best rooted: Russian (1959 year of creation), Krasnoslavyanskiy (1992 year of creation) and Russian yellow (1974 year of creation). In order for any of these varieties of gooseberries to propagate by rooting of lignified cuttings, it is necessary to cut them at the beginning of September with a length of 13-15 cm from annual growths. Each handle should have about five live kidneys. Next, gooseberry cuttings need to be planted in loose and nutritious soil, deepened so that only one kidney is on the surface. Planting pattern - 9-11 cm between cuttings and 50-55 cm between rows.
Typically, spring gooseberry cuttings begin to grow and form the root system. In order to get full-fledged seedlings, it is necessary to water the soil during the season, preventing its drying out, to loosen the soil, not allowing the soil crust to form and to fertilize. Fertilizing, by the way, needs two - in the early spring and in the middle of summer, about 30-35 g of nitroammophoska per square meter of soil. In autumn, the ready-made gooseberry seedlings can be dug up and planted in a new place.
Other gooseberry varieties can be propagated by green cuttings. You need to cut them at the very beginning of summer, 12-15 cm long, remove all leaflets on the handle, except for the top pair, and plant them in a greenhouse covered with a film, in a mixture of lowland peat, humus and river sand, deepening by 2-3 cm. Provided frequent watering - in the heat 5-6 times a day, in cloudy weather 3-4 times a day, by autumn, roots form on gooseberry cuttings and already virtually independent seedlings can be planted in a permanent place.
How to plant gooseberries?
So, it doesn’t matter if you got gooseberry seedlings on your own or purchased in a nursery, in order to get a good harvest it is important to choose the right place, plant the seedling correctly and take proper care of it.
By the way, you can start planting gooseberries both in autumn and spring. At the same time, autumn is a more acceptable time, it is often warm during this period and there is enough moisture in the soil. In the spring, you can simply not have time to plant plants before buds open, and planting already awakened plants does not bode well.
Choosing a place for gooseberries, it is necessary to take into account the characteristics of culture. So, it was noticed that gooseberries grow better on loose and nutritious soil and are afraid of clogging, especially wheat grass. Given this, under the gooseberry, you need to select an open and well-lit area without a shadow, with loose and nutritious soil (black soil, loam, sandy loam, gray forest soil) and a groundwater level not closer than one and a half meters to the surface. It’s great if on the north side there will be protection from the cold wind in the form of a house wall, a fence or a bush with a dense crown.
The gooseberry plot should be leveled, without depressions, melt or rain water should not accumulate on it, but the soil should still be moderately moist, not too dry.
Before planting gooseberries, it is important to prepare the soil well; To do this, you need to dig it up to the full bayonet of a shovel, be sure to select the maximum number of weeds, especially wheatgrass roots, loosen the soil and level it. If the soil on your site is poor, then dig 4-5 kg of well-rotted manure or humus, 500-600 g of wood ash and a tablespoon of nitroammophoska per square meter. Only after this, you can proceed with the actual landing. By the way, in order for gooseberry seedlings to turn into fully developed plants in the future, you need to choose the optimal layout for their placement on your site. For example, between rows, if you are going to plant a gooseberry plantation on a plot, you need to leave two meters of free area, and between plants in a row (or just between seedlings) - about a meter. It is not recommended to place gooseberry plants closer, they can interfere with each other, and it will be difficult to take care of them, cultivate the soil, and harvest, given the thorns of the plants.
Immediately after you decide on the planting pattern of gooseberries, you can start digging landing pits. The size of the pits directly depends on the degree of development of the root system of the gooseberry seedling. So, if you are planting an annual plant, in fact - rooted cuttings or branches, then there is no need to dig a large hole, it’s enough small, 18-20 cm deep and 10-15 cm wide. When planting two-year-old plants in which the root system is usually good developed, it is necessary to dig pits with a depth of 25-30 cm and a width of 30-35 cm.
At the bottom of the pit, put a layer of drainage, it can be broken brick or expanded clay, a couple of centimeters thick, and on top of it lay a nutrient layer: a mixture of soil and humus in equal proportions. Then it remains to pour the base of the pit, pouring a bucket of water and install the root system of the seedling on this mixture, spreading the roots well. Then, gooseberry roots should be sprinkled with soil, placing the seedling so that the root neck is a couple of centimeters immersed in the soil, densify the soil well, pour a bucket of water on the seedling and mulch the surface with peat or humus, a layer of a couple of centimeters.
After planting, you can shorten the aerial part of the gooseberry seedling by about a third, this will strengthen its branching in the future.
How to care for gooseberries?
This is followed by care, which consists in pruning, fertilizing, watering and protecting against diseases and pests.
Gooseberry pruning: usually try in the first year to leave the three most well-developed shoots (after shortening). The remaining shoots of gooseberries are often cut, although it is quite possible not to do this. In the spring of next year, from the young gooseberry growths, if they go from the roots, again you can leave three shoots, and after a year - three more and regulate this amount in the future, gradually replacing the old shoots with new ones. All gooseberry shoots that lean too close to the soil or grow deep into the crown, it is advisable to cut.
From the sixth or seventh year of a seedling's life, you can simply remove old shoots, broken, dry, and those that thicken the crown.
Watering: gooseberries are drought tolerant, but with a lack of moisture it is difficult to get a good crop. Watering is necessary and especially important during the flowering period - usually at the very beginning of May - and during the formation of the ovary and ripening of the crop. At this time, under each gooseberry bush, you need to pour a bucket of water weekly, unless, of course, there is no rain and it is hot.
Watering can be combined with fertilizer application. The best option is this: first, all weeds in the gooseberry near-mouth area are removed, then the soil is loosened, then fertilizers are applied, it is irrigated and mulched with a layer of humus 2-3 cm thick. each bush for a tablespoon of fertilizer, in early June, each bush should be fed with wood ash - 150-200 g (for each), and in July, make a teaspoon of superphosphate and potassium salt for each plant. Gooseberries respond very well to the application of organic fertilizers. It is advisable to make them in the spring with alternating one year. For plants under the age of five, 5-6 kg of organics for each bush will suffice; for older plants, the dose can be doubled. When applying liquid organic fertilizers, do not forget to dilute them with water: for example, mullein is usually diluted six times, chicken droppings - ten, manure - seven. Under each gooseberry bush, it is appropriate to make no more than a bucket of such top dressing, previously loosening the soil well.
An important component of care work is the control of diseases and pests. A very dangerous gooseberry disease is anthracnose. The fight against anthracnosis should be started in the fall in order to exterminate a possible or already proven source of infection. To do this, all shoots affected by anthracnose should be cut out, fallen leaves with signs of defeat should be collected and burned. It is good to loosen the soil under bushes.
In the spring, the fight against infection must be continued. To combat anthracnose, there are several safe and completely reliable folk control measures. For example, a fairly common technique is spraying gooseberry bushes with water, heated to 60 degrees. Such water, when sprayed, cools and does not destroy leaf blades and shoots, but destroys the source of infection. Helps to overcome anthracnose and spraying plants with mullein with an interval of two weeks. In this case, you need to dilute the mullein seven times with water (1: 7). A good result is obtained by treating well-fermented slurry, previously diluted twice in the first treatment, and four times in the next two.
You can also cope with this disease using treatments with infusion of field sow thistle. To do this, you need to take about four kilograms of leaf blades of sow thistle and its stems, chop well, place in a container and pour a bucket of water. Next, you need to let the solution brew for ten hours and you can apply it by treating diseased plants three or four times with an interval of one week.
As for pests, gooseberries are periodically attacked aphid, spinning the tops of the leaf blades and causing deformation of fresh growths. Aphids can also be handled with folk remedies, for example, treating plants with infusion of onion husks, for which 150-180 g of husk must be poured with a bucket of water at room temperature and let it brew for five hours. Spraying with hot pepper helps; for this, 300 g of its pods need to be poured with 3-4 liters of water and let it brew for 6-7 hours. If aphids are few, then it, together with leaflets, can be collected manually and destroyed.
How to harvest gooseberries?
That, in fact, is all you need to know to get a good gooseberry crop. It remains only to collect it. Given that the bushes are prickly, you need to be careful, and knowing that the berries ripen at the same time, you can wait for their mass ripening and collect in one, maximum, two doses. If the berries need to be stored or transported, then they can be picked a little immature, if this is not necessary, then it is better to wait until the full degree of maturity.