I knew when I first got my allotment that I had to grow fruit, you really can’t beat the taste of homegrown fruit freshly picked and warmed by the sun. I have a row of ‘Autumn Bliss’ fruiting raspberries, 4 ‘Ben Lomond’ black currant bushes and 2 ‘Hinnonmaki Green’ gooseberry bushes all safely inside a netted cage which helps to keep those pesky birds away! The fruit cage is the one area which gets neglected the most but it never disappoints and this year the gooseberries are stealing the show!
I headed to the plot yesterday evening with one job in mind and that was to harvest my gooseberries, I was afraid that the birds had sneaked in and taken them all but I was in for a surprise… The bushes were laden with fruit! Well one of them was in particular and I couldn’t have been happier. I put on my gloves and got to work picking the crop, managing to fill one basket and half a bowl from one bush alone. The other bush wasn’t as prolific as the last but it still provided me with a lovely little harvest of smaller berries so I’m not complaining. I think I might have pruned this one a bit more harsh which might explain the smaller crop it produced.
Although I love gooseberries I absolutely hate picking them! The shape of the pruned bushes don’t make it easy and I came away with scratches on my arms and even my legs. Plus there’s some rogue raspberry canes growing up in the bushes and some bindweed has made it’s way up the side of the fruit cage which I need to weed out pronto. When me and my Dad went to River Cottage a few months ago, Helen the head gardener told us that gooseberries can be grow as a cordon. By growing them vertically the crop might be a tad smaller but they’ll take up less room and are also easier to harvest… I had to try it! So I’m thinking for next year I’ll try this method of growing gooseberries, instead of having 2 bushes I can have 6 cordon’s growing and even have the room to introduce the red variety. The fruit cage will need a little change around but I’m so excited to try it!
Gooseberries are odd little things, hairy and a little bitter but I love them. Nothing says Summer to me more than gooseberries and elderflower so it’s always a treat to be able to pick my own ( plus they are always mega expensive in shops if you can ever find any!) For my birthday in April my boyfriend surprised me with my very own KitchenAid which I had been lusting over for months. I later added an ice-cream maker bowl to the family so I’m very excited to try making my own ice-creams this year. I’m thinking gooseberry and elderflower ice-cream to start with and then I need to decide what to do with the rest of the harvest… maybe jam or some gooseberry tarts?