One of the hardiest
of the soft fruits, the gooseberry prefers cool
conditions to ripen. Except for Leveller and one
or two dessert kinds, it does better where cool,
moist conditions prevail. It crops heavily for
the area of ground it occupies, and no amount
of frost or cold winds will trouble it. It is
one of the few soft fruits to do well in semi-shade.
It may therefore be planted between apples and
other top fruits, thus making the best use of
the ground. It is also a very permanent plant
and with the minimum of attention will continue
to produce fruit for fifty years and more. In
addition, the fruit will hang on the bushes for
several weeks so that it may be picked when there
is plenty of time to do so. But it should not
be left until the fruits begin to crack and fall
from the plants. The fruit is used for bottling,
whilst it will freeze better than any, keeping
for two years. Fresh dessert gooseberries have
no equal for flavour eaten from the plant, and
the culinary varieties have all manner of uses.
The first gooseberries will ripen early in June.
By planting early, mid-season and late varieties,
cropping will continue until the end of August.
What is more, a pound of gooseberries can be picked
in a few minutes and the fruit does not turn mushy,
however warm the weather. It is the foolproof
fruit with a distinctive flavour all of its own.