Growing soft fruit
When it comes to the container planting of soft fruit we don’t often think of soft fruits other than strawberries. This is a real shame because fruits like the currents (red, black, white) the berries (logan, black Goji etc) all thrive given regular watering and the space for roots to grow.
When you plant we recommend a 50/50 mix of soil and compost (peat free) this gives the growing medium longevity as compared to pure compost which is quite free draining. We also recommend the addition of slow release fertilizers which prolong the life of composts.
Every 2 to 3 years you should tap out or remove your plant pulling it contents on to a plastic sheet or soil bed. You should attempt to remove the majority of what should be spent soil/compost and repack with fresh. This should be done mid winter as the plant is dormant and should not stress the plant. Add more slow release fertilizer.
We recommend you add slow nitrogen rich pellets to the top soil in early spring to help promote growth.
As with any containerized plant you need to keep on top of watering, do not let the soil dry our. We recommend watering at least every 3 days in dry weather in the summer. In the winter you should not need to water. Apply a mulch of bark chippings on top of the soil to retain moisture.
Pest and diseases
We only sell varieties that have a good disease tolerance, mildew with gooseberries is normally a real issue and we firmly believe that what you spray on your fruit you end up eating. The best bet to a healthy plant is keeping it strong with good soil and pruning it well to enable air to flow and choose a good disease resistant variety.
General Pruning Care
Below is a example of how you should prune a gooseberry bush.. We tend to think of fingers reaching for the sky!
Prune the bushes in February each year. Keep the centre of the bush clear of most growth by cutting out any weak or dead branches. On the outside of the bush, young growth should be left untouched, older and longer side shoots should be cut back to within 2cm (1 inch) of their base. The aim is to achieve a wine glass shape with the centre of the bush reasonably clear of growth.
Winter pruning helps to form a balanced branch structure and keeps the centre of the bush open to make picking easier. Mildew disease is also reduced if air circulation is encouraged.
First Year Pruning
In winter after the first full season of growth:
2) Prune all other shoots to about half their length above and outward facing bud.
3) Prune out any shoots that are growing into the centre of the bush, and cut back leaders by one-third.
Second Year Pruning – In winter:
1) Shorten by half new leading shoot on existing branches.
2) Select up to six other well placed, strong shoots and shorten these by half.
3) Cut any weak sides hoots back to one bud to encourage stronger growth
Subsequent Yearly Pruning – In winter:
1) Prune to one bud all side shoots that grew from the main framework branches in the last growing season.
2) Trim off 5–10cm (2–4in) from the leader shoots of the main branches to promote healthy growth if there is there is still plenty of room for growth otherwise cut back further.
3) Remove any old or diseased branches.
4) Remove low growing branches as any fruit on these will be vulnerable to pests and rodents.