Like the currant, the gooseberry does best in a cool climate. The northern states and, in the south, the mountains, are best adapted for this fruit. Like the currant, also, the gooseberry does best on moist soil. Its chief enemy is the gooseberry worm. (See Currant.) Properly managed gooseberries furnish abundance of fruit, which can be used long before it is ripe, for making pies and jam. Until it is ripe, it is very acid, and often when fully ripe, many of the varieties are still tart. For four to six weeks, or even longer, either green or ripe, it is a particularly valuable fruit for the home garden and the local market on these accounts.
There are two general classes of varieties the English and the American. The former are not considered as easy to manage as the latter, but usually they are of superior quality. Among them are Chautauqua, Columbus, Industry, Triumph, Wellington’s Glory, Lancashire Lad, and Crown Bob. Among American varieties are Champion, Downing, Houghton’s Seedling, Pearl, Red Jacket, and Smith. In all essential respects, management is the same as for currants, which see.
” I usually take two-year-old gooseberry plants,” writes Phil Strubler of Du Page county, Illinois, ” though one-year-old plants grown from layers will do. I prepare my ground by applying a heavy coat of barnyard manure before plowing it under. After this is plowed under 6 to 10 inches deep I put on the plowed surface, usually with a manure spreader, as well rotted barnyard manure as I can get. This is cultivated and harrowed into the soil as well as possible. I then mark the rows for planting 6 feet apart one way and 5 the other. This is, of course, for field culture. For garden culture, the plants can be planted nearer, say, 5 X 4 feet.
I always plant in the fall when possible, say, from the middle of September until the ground freezes. If planted in the last two weeks in September there is nearly a year’s gain in the growth of the plants the following year. I always draw up the earth around the base of the plants to keep the water from settling around the plants during the freezing and thawing of the following winter and spring. This has a tendency to heave the plants out of the ground. It is well to level the ground around the plants after freezing is over in the spring.
” Get all the growth out of the plants the first two or three years by good cultivation. Keep them clear of weeds; go through with a cultivator about every ten days during the growing season. After the second year they need some trimming, but not much. In a year or two they need more, and as they grow older an annual trimming is desirable. You cannot expect to grow good crops of goose-berries without plenty of air and light in and around the plants. After the fourth year one ought to be able to grow an average crop of fruit if the bushes have been well cared for.”
” The Houghton gooseberry,” says S. J. Black-well of Mercer county, New Jersey, “always bears a full crop of fruit of good quality, although the fruit is small. It is a sure cropper and has long been our standard sort. The Downing fruit is larger and just as good in other ways, with the exception that the plants are rather small. The Pearl possesses a superior flavor, and is a very attractive green and the bush is a strong grower. The Joslyn, when grown here, has large size, but is not very hardy. It has a large number of spines, and holds its leaves well.
” The Columbus is of large size and productive, but not a very rapid grower. It is worthy of trial. The Chautauqua has been grown here for some time, and I would plant this for market were I putting out a berry patch this year. The Mountain Seedling is a very’ attractive berry, but the quality is poor and the stems hurt its sale.”
GOOSEBERRIES FOR PROFIT
Pennel Emerson of Delaware grows gooseberries successfully in fruiting orchards as described be-low by A. N. Brown of Wyoming county. The plantation, now 12 years old, is of Houghton and Downing varieties. As the ground was planted closely with fruit trees, the bushes had to be set just where room could be found for them, and still leave space for the necessary culture. Mr. Emerson considers 4 x 6 feet the proper width to set the plants when starting new plantations in the open.
” The first two or three years light applications of phosphoric acid and potash were given in conection with the crimson clover, which forms the basis of manure furnished to the gooseberries, and which, doubtless, is the greatest factor in the success attained. Crimson clover has been the sole manure, until within the past year or so, when an application of barnyard manure was given in the fall, to aid the clover as a mulch and to furnish additional humus, so that sufficient moisture can be conserved to mature the crop. For it must be borne in mind that the pear and apple trees are now at such an age they require a large amount of moisture.
“This necessitates the plowing down of the clover early in the spring, because of the call for moisture by the maturing clover itself. It was desirable also to prevent injury to the larger root system of the strong gooseberry bushes. To maintain the crop-producing power of this large number of mature trees and vines, culture must begin as early as possible. After the clover is turned under the most intense culture is given, implements best suited for the work being used. After the crop is harvested, or about July to, the ground is again seeded to crimson clover and the same routine followed. The gooseberries began bearing at two years, and have borne annually since in increasing quantity. Last season over 24,000 pounds were gathered from a scant four acres. This product sold at an average of 6 cents a pound, or $1,440 from the four acres. The crop is usually sold to Baltimore canners, whose representatives come to the shipping station for them. The price has never fallen below 3% cents a pound, and is frequently more than 6 cents. It must be kept in mind that a large crop each of apples and pears was grown on the same ground. What the results in the open under Mr. Emerson’s treatment would have been would be speculative, but they probably would be much greater than when grown with the handicap as they are.
Pickers receive three-quarters of a cent a pound for picking. They can make $I.50 a day by steady work. The Downing is the larger and more productive. It does not turn red when ripe, as does the Houghton. This fault is an objectionable feature, to the packers especially.”