Gooseberries 2015

This year I was successful in keeping the gooseberry sawfly from defoliating my bushes. Each time I saw some leaves disappearing, I applied some powdered Spinosad to that bush. I needed 3-4 total applications, but I don’t think any of them were in the same place twice. And some of the gooseberry plants didn’t need any Spinosad at all.

It is just too easy to miss them when you squish them by hand, like I did last year. And then, they start to multiply and defoliate the bushes quicker and quicker.

Hinnomaki Yellow- Best flavor of year- nice and sweet. A small bush that just doesn’t put on much growth. I don’t notice that much of the others getting eaten by animals, but these go fast. I only got about a half dozen berries. 15 brix

Hinnomaki Red- A bit more vigorous than HY. A good producer, with a nice Sweet-tart flavor. I have a couple bushes in the hot dry area and another in the moist, less-sun (but still quite sunny) area. They seem to taste about the same. 13 brix.

Poorman- Good flavor, with some sweet and others sweet-tart. The bush is getting defoliated by a leaf-spotting issue. Sparse crop. 13-15 brix.

Tixia- Also getting partially defoliated, with only a few berries. All are either tart or bland (sometimes a bit of both). 10 brix.

Red George (I think…I need to check the label again to make sure it isn’t Amish Red)- Tart flavor, decent production. It also has closely spaced small thorns which make this a pain to pick. 11-12 brix

Black Velvet- OK sweet-tart flavor, big producer and strong grower. 12-13 brix.

Jeanne- Not yet ripe, but has been very good in the past. A slow grower, which fell over last fall. This spring I tied it up.

Invicta- Not all that great in the past and the bush didn’t survive the winter. To be fair to it, it wasn’t in the best location for gooseberries (a bit too sunny and dry).

Too young- Colossal, Jewel, and Glenndale.

Here’s some I picked today. For scale, it is a pint basket on the left.


Describe the taste of gooseberries in one sentence, I’m curious.

Wow sounds like you have a great mix Bob. The pixwell does very good for us. It’s sweet when ripe and pink with no tartness. People eat a bad gooseberry pie and think they are all that tart. I love tart but I’ve had some pie I didn’t care for because the gooseberries were picked to early.

Thanks for the report Bob! I only grow Poorman these days as it was better tasting and more reliable than the other varieties I tried. It takes a long time to get a big enough bush for a good harvest, it doesn’t set as many berries as the others. I am finally getting a decent crop on 5-year bushes. They need to be picked later than the ones in your picture above, maybe the topmost berry is approaching the target. They go bad not long after they are ripe, thats one problem with them. I also had lots of splitting this year with the continual rain.

Man I am sooo sick of rain, its raining now yet again.

Excellent report! I’ve only eaten tart tasting gooseberry pies. Maybe its time to grow my own! Thanks so much!

A bit like a tarter grape.

I don’t have any Pixwell, as I saw some bad reviews. But it is my mother’s favorite from when she was a child. She would always eat them when very tart, though she mentioned that once in a while they would get “overripe” and be sweet. A couple years ago, I got one for her. I should ask her if it had any this year.

They are pretty east to grow. In fact, they are easy to propagate too. I have a couple rows of bushes which I started just by shoving cuttings into the ground in the fall. I bet they would be well adapted to your area, as they like moist ground and do well with some cloud cover. The gooseberry sawfly has been the only hiccup for me and it looks like a few puffs of Spinosad has addressed it.

I wasn’t sure how long to leave them, as they start tasting good once they get a bit of color. The darkest one was actually sweet, rather than sweet-tart- I can see different people preferring them at either stage.

But, the 5 berries in the pic is all I got from a decent sized bush. I’m not sure if the others were eaten by animals, or just fell off with the leaves. I think it is the leafspotting which caused the defoliation. I didn’t see any gooseberry sawfly worms on it and the leaves are gone from the bottom up (sawflies start at the top and work down). Here’s a pic of the leaves- do they look like this for you?

I haven’t had any cracking for any of my gooseberries.

Does Invicta ever turn red? I have what I thought was an Invicta bush but the berries are starting to turn red and they are still a little hard. They look the most like the Hinnomaki Red in the above picture, which I thought I planted somewhere else, but I could have mixed them up. Would Hinnomaki Red just now turning red sound about right for Z 5b, northeast Ohio?

Invicta never turned red for me- it is a large green berry. Hinnomaki Red is just ripening for me, but I’m not sure if Ohio would be ahead or behind.

If you let the Poorman hang a long time they are prone to crack. I had spotting problems like that several years ago on other varieties, but the Poorman has always been a trooper for me.

Here are some pictures of one of my bushes I just took. This bush is not cracking, its one in a different location that is cracking.

These are about at the right ripeness level. Also notice the size, this is the size they get to as the bush matures (and gets over diseases). They are bigger than other gooseberries due to the part American genes.


Those are some nice berries Scott. I’m not sure what my bush needs to get over the spotting- it has had it for several years. It may just be a bad location for gooseberries- no morning sun on a SW facing rock wall. I do have another bush in another part of the yard which seems better, but it is a year or two younger (the bush in my pic was planted in 2011) and hasn’t had much (if any) fruit.

The bush above gets AM sun, it does really well with just that. I planted it in fall 2010. It is just now getting to the point of bearing well. I have some others in only a few hours of mid-morning sun, they are doing OK but many berries have similar size as yours. They still taste good. The spotting problem I had only in a location with very little sun.

Oh, when I did have that spotting I think a copper spray fixed the problem. It was almost ten years ago so my memory is not super good on the details of when I sprayed etc.

We have a wild , native Golden Currant here which I believe is also aka gooseberry? My daughter and I love to pick them when they are dark blue to black. Fairly sweet.

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Golden Currant is part of the Ribes family, which includes both currants and gooseberries. But I think it is more like a currant than a gooseberry. I’ve got a Crandall (clove currant) which is supposed to be very similar to the wild Golden Currants. It ripens later and is still completely unripe.

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Turkey Creek
The currents you are referring to are known as clove currants and they have yellow fragrant flowers that smell sweet like cloves. I grow yellow, red, and black fruited clove currants. The crandalls clove currents are definitely an improved variety as the berries are sometimes as big as a nickle. The wild varieties still have a few berries left as shown below

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Bob and Clark you are both spot on. Clark do the Crandalls taste simlar to the wild ones? From the description and pictures you obviously have the same wild ones that we do. A larger fruit would certainly be nice.

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Turkey creek,
Yes the flavor of Crandall is identical to the purple wild variety though as you may know wild clove currents have some variation in their flavor. The Crandall is like the purple/ black variety and not like the flavor of the yellow variety or it’s variants. If anyone wondered what pixwell gooseberries look like the photo below is a few ripe ones

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We only have the wild, black colored berry variety that I have noticed. Might have to try and locate a Crandall or two next spring. Are they grafted or seedlings?

Bobvance: nice report, thanks.
My Poor man has surprised me. I bought it in 2013 from EBay. It was a small 8 inch plant that looked like a rooted cutting. This year there are 4 verticle branches and 6 or 7 branches growing along the ground. Several of them have rooted. The horizontal branches are dense with fruit, some in clusters of 2 and 3. The berries on the plate were removed from one branch. Based on the various sizes and color of the berries they should be ripening over several weeks. So my first impression of poorman in my location this season is a very vigorous and productive shrub. Over 100 berries on this young shrub. Too bad it has so many thorns.

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I received my crandalls from HH wild Plum. They appeared to be rooted cuttings. Harlan the owner and I spent hours on the phone talking plants until his fatal accident a couple of years ago. Harlan sent them to me as a test crop. If you don’t know of Harlan he was the best nursery man I ever knew and was widely known in Iowa and Nebraska for the work he did with Aronia’s