Growing gooseberries in pots is a great way to enjoy fresh fruit throughout the year, and it’s also an excellent way to add some greenery to your balcony, patio, or garden.
There are a few things to remember when it comes to growing gooseberries in pots. First, you’ll need to choose the right pot. Gooseberries grow best in large pots that are at least 40cm wide and fairly deep. You’ll also need to ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes in the base to prevent waterlogging.
Once you’ve chosen the right pot, you must prepare the soil. Gooseberries prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. You can use compost mixed with some perlite added to improve drainage. Adding some slow-release fertiliser to the soil is also a good idea to provide your gooseberry plant with the nutrients it needs to thrive, I like to use an organic fertiliser such as chicken manure or fish blood & bone.
Preparing the Soil
Before planting gooseberries in pots, it’s crucial to prepare the soil. Here are the steps to follow:
I like to mix my soil up in a wheelbarrow. I will throw all the ingredients in before giving it a good mix-up. For gooseberries, I will use compost, perlite and 6x chicken manure.
Planting Gooseberry Bushes
Growing gooseberries in pots is a great way to enjoy this delicious fruit even if you don’t have a garden. Here are the steps to follow when planting gooseberry bushes in pots:
- Choose a pot that’s at least 40cm (16in) wide and deep, with plenty of drainage holes in the base.
- Fill the pot with our special compost mix.
- If you got your plant bare-root, soak the gooseberry plant’s roots in water for at least an hour before planting.
- Dig a hole in the compost that’s deep enough to accommodate the roots of the plant, making sure that the soil level of the plant is at the same level as the compost surface.
- Backfill the hole with compost, firming it gently around the roots.
- Water the plant thoroughly and place it in a sunny spot.
It’s important to plant gooseberries at the right depth to ensure they establish well. Planting too shallow can cause the roots to dry out, while planting too deep can cause the stem to rot. A good rule of thumb is to plant the gooseberry at the same depth as it was in the nursery.
Container-grown bushes can be planted at any time of year, but bare-root plants are best planted in late autumn or early spring when the plant is dormant.
Watering and Feeding
Gooseberries grown in pots require regular watering and feeding to ensure healthy growth and a bountiful harvest. Here are some tips to help you keep your gooseberries happy:
- Water your gooseberries regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
- During hot, dry weather, you may need to water your plants daily to prevent the soil from drying out.
- When watering, avoid getting water on the leaves as this can encourage fungal diseases.
- Fertilise your gooseberries with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring.
- During the growing season, you can also feed your plants with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks.
- Avoid over-fertilising, as this can lead to excessive growth and poor fruit quality.
- Add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to the soil each year to improve soil fertility. I like to add a layer of 6x chicken manure in spring.
- 6X The 100% Natural Fertiliser
- Ideal for all flowers, shrubs, vegetables, lawns, outdoor pot plants, trees and roses.
- 6X boosts garden life and encourages the earthworm population.
- 6X is thoroughly composted, heat sterilised and milled to produce a weed and bug free, loose texture which is pleasant and easy to use.
Giving your gooseberries the right amount of water and nutrients can help ensure a healthy, productive plant that will provide you with delicious fruit for years to come.
Pruning and Training
Pruning is essential for the healthy growth of gooseberries. It helps to remove diseased, damaged, or dead wood, and also encourages fruit production. Here are some tips for pruning gooseberries in pots:
- Prune gooseberries in late winter or early spring before the buds start to grow.
- Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood, cutting it back to healthy wood.
- Thin out the branches to allow air and light to circulate.
- Prune back the previous year’s growth to encourage new growth and fruit production.
Training gooseberries in pots is also important to ensure they grow in a healthy and productive way. Here are some tips for training gooseberries:
- Train gooseberries to grow in an open goblet shape, removing any branches that cross over or grow towards the centre.
- Pinch out the tips of the new growth to encourage branching and bushiness.
- Train the branches to grow outwards rather than upwards to avoid them becoming too tall and top-heavy.
- Use stakes or bamboo canes to support the branches if necessary.
By following these pruning and training tips, you can ensure that your gooseberries in pots grow healthy and productive, producing plenty of delicious fruit for you to enjoy.
Harvesting and Storage
When it comes to harvesting gooseberries, things do get a little unusual. It is common practice to harvest half of your crop early when it is not ripe. This is known as thinning.
The rest of the gooseberries are left on the plant to fully ripen. This is normally done in late spring; the harvested gooseberries are used for making jams.
Once harvested, gooseberries should be stored properly to ensure they last as long as possible. They can be eaten within a few days of picking or stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. If you want to store them for longer, gooseberries freeze well and can be stored in the freezer for up to a year.
When picking gooseberries remember to wear gloves, the thorns are certainly prickly!