How to grow currants and gooseberries

April 9, 2013 12:00 am

 

 

Choosing a site:

Currants and Gooseberries both prefer a sunny location but can tolerate part shade. The soil needs to be well drained and contain organic matter. It is ideal for the pH to range 5.5-7.0. This is the pH range of the Willamette Valley naturally. Since currants and gooseberries are hosts to White Pine Blister Rust, it is not wise to plant a currant or gooseberry if you have five-needled pines in your landscape.

 

Planting:

Amend the soil with compost. Space the gooseberries and red or white currants 3’-4’ apart in rows. Black currants are more vigorous so spacing them 4’-5’ apart would be wise. Rows can be 7’-10’ apart. Dig a hole large enough to fit the spread of roots. Add a well balanced slow release fertilizer to the fill soil. Press down on the soil around the plants to avoid air bubbles and water thoroughly. At planting time, prune all branches to a length of 4”-6”. This will stimulate new growth. Mulch around the plants before the summer arrives with 2” of compost, sawdust or other organic materials.

 

After Planting Care:

Remove all the blossoms the first year after planting. This will allow your plant to become more stable. Fertilizer should be applied each February and again in the late spring each year. Currants and gooseberries can also be trained as a fan shape on a trellis. This is attractive and will help with small spaces.

 

Pruning:

Pruning is best done in the winter months when the plants are dormant.

Red and White Currants and Gooseberries produce their fruit on 2-3 year old wood. Remove any stems that are older than 4 years old. Black Currants produce best on 1 year old wood. Strong 1 year old canes and 2-3 year old canes that have an abundance of strong 1 year old branches are the most productive. When you prune, keep a total of 10-12 canes per mature bush- about half should be 1 year old shoots. Make your pruning cuts close to the ground.

 

Harvest:

Pick black and white currants as well as gooseberries as an individual fruit. If you try to do this with the red currants, you will ruin the fruit. So it is best to pick these in clusters.