Prune gooseberries

A good winter chop now will encourage healthy new growth


When it comes to growing fruit in the garden, gooseberries are not often at the top of the list, but they’re a good, reliable crop to grow and are very tasty. What’s better than a gooseberry fool on a summer’s day or a gooseberry crumble to warm you up as the temperature drops? The fruits can be cooked in many ways, included jams and chutneys. 

Gooseberry bushes are easy to grow and grow well in most soil types. If pruned on a regular basis, the bush should be productive for up to 15 years, although many will carry on for much longer.

Ideally, pruning should be done twice a year, summer and winter. The summer prune is to shorten the long new stems and in winter a more thorough prune is done to open up the bush, thin crowded stems and shorten side shoots. The aim is to establish a permanent framework of branches that is open in the centre to allow good air circulation. The fruit is produced on short side shoots that grow from the older framework and these are shortened to produce fruiting spurs. Occasionally, old branches can be removed if the bush is getting crowded and this will also encourage new growth to develop. Gooseberries are thorny, so it’s best to wear gloves when pruning.