General characteristics of gooseberries

Unlike the classic grape that comes from the vine plant, the gooseberry is produced from a shrub belonging to the saxifragaceae family, that is the same as the currant. The characteristic name derives from the presence of thorns on branches and branches, which have a length of about 1 cm, therefore rather robust. The flowers develop singly or in groups of two or three, and produce a fruit with a large oblong berry appearance. Reminiscent of currants, were it not for its color and its size that reaches up to 25 mm in diameter. The color of the fruit can vary from unripe green to violet depending on the cultivated species, but in each variety it retains a transparent peel that reveals the vascular system of the grape. The taste is sweet, it has an intense and fragrant smell but it is not always appreciated and therefore less in demand than the classic grapes. Its origin dates back to England in the 1700s, but it spread almost immediately throughout Europe thanks to the temperate climate of the Continent.

Gooseberries - Gooseberry fruit">Variety of gooseberries

There are so many varieties available on the market. American species, as in the case of strawberry grapes, are much more resistant to diseases and pests and also adapt well to the Italian climate. This is why many rootstocks come from abroad. As England is the country of origin of this fruit, the British varieties are the most numerous and easily recognizable, as they are the most common. An example is represented by Careless, which is characterized by large green berries very similar to the sisters White Smith and Leveller. Vinham Industry, on the other hand, has the purplish color of black table grapes, but of course the shape of the berry and the particular flavor immediately identify the differences. The American gooseberry, on the other hand, is mainly used in the syrup industry. The small and round shape of its berries adapts very well to the use of machines during harvesting, ideal for industrial production. The most famous gooseberry American is the Poorman, easily recognizable by its small red berries.

Cultivating gooseberries

This is a shrub that can be easily grown even in the garden, as long as the climatic conditions of the surrounding environment do not foresee severe frosts. In fact, the plant does not tolerate harsh climates, while it adapts very well to warm or temperate climates. Before planting it is good to fertilize the soil with mature manure in order to obtain an environment rich in phosphorus and potassium. The shrubs must be raised in the espalier and the new shoots must be tied several times during the vegetative cycle of the plant. To obtain the space necessary for its development, even if less vigorous than the currant, the seedlings should be positioned at a distance of about 25 cm from each other. As for the cultivation of small fruits, the first mulch is given at the moment of the planting using fabric sheets, while for the following ones it is possible to use plastic sheets and mulches of organic materials. The harvest is done in summer, between June and August, by cutting the bunches below the peduncle, so it is even faster than that of classic grapes.

Gooseberries: Gooseberry Diseases

Like many shrub plants, gooseberries are prone to degenerative diseases, mainly caused by fungal infestations. In the case of this particular plant, the main enemy is powdery mildew, which mainly attacks the red variety. The bacterium infiltrates the plant's lymphatic vessels, producing a layer of white mold on both the leaves and the fruit. This particular feature identifies powdery mildew with white sore, a common disease also in the vine. The pathogen develops in humid environments and proliferates when a layer of water is deposited on the leaves which acts as a vehicle for propagation. To avoid the onset of this disease it is good to irrigate the shrub in the ground and never directly on the leaves, but especially when the soil denotes drought. In this way, water stagnation which is the main cause of the infestation is avoided. If despite this the plants show signs of infection, the chemical cure is the only one able to eradicate the fungus.