Few things are as delicious as homegrown berries, and the success of your harvest begins right with the planting site and method. For maximum growth and yields later on, give your plants the best foundation possible.
Before you plant, check your soil pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Currants prefer a soil pH of 6.2-6.5, and gooseberries prefer a pH of 6.0-6.8. Steer clear of soils that are extremely heavy or poorly drained.
Fertilize in early spring, before growth begins, use ¼ to ½ pound of balanced fertilizer. Apply fertilizer in a band around each bush, working it lightly into the soil from near the canes to a foot or so beyond the branch tips. A composted material rich in nitrogen, such as manure, also makes an excellent fertilizer and may be substituted for a balanced synthetic fertilizer.
Every plant has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your plants encounters. If available, disease-resistant varieties are the best option for easy care; and for all types of plants, proper maintenance (such as watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.
Tan to gray 1/16” hard, scaly shell covers developing young. Usually on bark of young twigs and branches. Sap feeding weakens plant.
Wilted tip on plants indicates a possibility of a little borer. If it breaks of readily, and is hollow, prune back branch until no longer hollow. Burn all pruning. Note: Follow all directions as indicated.
Very small, round, brown spots appear first on lower, older leaves. Plants gradually lose leaves from bottom upwards. Other symptoms may include black, sunken spots on leaf stalks, light brown to pale yellow lesions on cane, black fly speck-like spots on green berries.
Will appears as gray, hairy mold. Decays blossoms, green and ripening fruit as well as harvested fruit.
Like cedar apple rust, double host disease. On leaves of Currants and Gooseberries, clusters of pinhead-size blisters on yellowed leaves. May be many new re-infections each summer. Alternate host is Eastern White Pine. Fatal to the pine, kills it limb by limb.
Whitish gray powdery mold or felt-like patches on leaves and green twigs. Leaves may be crinkly and cup inward. Over winters in fallen leaves. Fall clean up is essential.
As berries are maturing, nearing harvest, cane begins to die back. Leaves wilt and fruit shrivels. Disease can go downward thru bark and wood to main stem, girdling and killing it. Check for this several times each season.
Pinpoint size, many different colors. Found on undersides of leaves. Severe infestations have some silken webbing. Sap feeding causes bronzing of leaves.
They are the size of a pinhead and usually green or black in color. Cluster on stems and under leaves, sucking plant juices. Causes bright red, cupped condition or wrinkled areas on leaves.
Small insects, less than 1/2” long, with feathery wings, yellow to brown in color. Cause damage if they lay eggs in fruit soon after bloom, scarring the fruit. In summer they feed on new vegetative growth, and damage summer fruit (not usually considered a problem).
Beetles have 1/2” long, tan wings with reddish-brown edges and long thin hairy legs. Skeletonizes leaves and flowers. Present in large quantities in June and July. Worst on sandy sites near grassy areas.
Adult is metallic green beetle. Skeletonizes leaves. Larva are grub which feeds on turf roots. This is more of a problem east of the Mississippi River.
Adult is yellow to brown sawfly beetle, 1/4” long. Larvae are brown and white, 1/8” long. Adults make slits in flower buds and larvae feed on berries.
Adult is bell shaped, blackish gray snout-like mouthparts, forewings dark rusty brown with tan tips. Over winters in larval stage in mummified berries, in weeds and other trash. Moths emerge in spring and lay egg masses on leaves. Eggs hatch in 5 days and larvae tie two young leaves together to form nest in which they feed. Does not roll leaves. Later nests can be found in flower clusters and in bunches. Damage is not only from feeding on leaves, flowers and berries, but feeding sites allows rot organisms to enter fruit.
Pruning is an important part of proper edible plant care, but many people find the task overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Keep these things in mind:
Spraying is important to the survival of your plants. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.
Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.
If you receive about an inch of rainfall every 10 days or so, your plants will be fine. If it gets really dry, you can give your new plants a good, thorough soaking with a hose. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly. This gives the water a chance to soak in instead of running off. You can also use a soaker hose to water several plants at once.
Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit, and how to store your harvest.
You can expect your first harvest in the third season. Currants and gooseberries are ready to harvest in late June to mid July when the fruit is full size and soft. One-way to test if the berries are ripe is to squeeze gently between your fingers, they will be soft when they are ripe.
Depending on the variety, the color of the ripe fruit will vary:
Currants form on clusters for easy harvest, but gooseberries have needle like thorns that slow harvest down. When harvesting currants make sure to cut the entire fruit cluster. When using the berries for jam, harvest before they are fully ripe that way the natural pectin levels of the fruit are higher.
Annual average yield:
Refrigerate berries immediately in a covered container or closed bag and they will keep for several weeks.