[NAFEX] Ribes update

Lee Reich lreich at hvc.rr.com
Thu Nov 5 11:16:10 EST 2009

My picks for gooseberries that combine very good flavor with very good  
disease resistance are Poorman, Black Satin, Red Jacket (not the  
European variety with this same name), and Glendale, all of which  
thrive in my NY's Zone 5 Hudson Valley farmden. Hinonmakis Yellow is  
an excellent variety except that it has not borne well for the past  
two years; it is very weak growing and was too inundated by other  
plants. I've moved it.

The very best tasting gooseberries are those European ones, such as  
Whitesmith, Webster, etc. They have very mean thorns and are very  
susceptible to mildew.

Pixwell is small, tough, and too tart, not worth growing at all, in my  
opinion. I also don't consider Hinonmakis Red (aka Lepaa Red) worth  
growing or eating.

As far as blackcurrants, I like the taste of Titania very much. Other  
favorites are some of the Russian varieties, such as Kirovchanka and  
Belaruskaja. As a matter of fact, they are among my favorite of all  
fruits! I'm digging up all my Consorts as well as Ben Sarek, the  
latter having large berries but, to me, bad tasting.

Lee Reich, PhD

Books by Lee Reich:
A Northeast Gardener's Year
The Pruning Book
Weedless Gardening
Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden
Landscaping with Fruit

On Nov 5, 2009, at 10:45 AM, Kieran &/or Donna wrote:

> Gooseberry update:
>    In researching the varieties you all mentioned and recommended, I  
> found
> out that American gooseberry mildew invaded England and NZ in the  
> 1980's,
> creating a sudden flurry of breeding activity which we in the  
> eastern US can
> benefit from.   The Hinnonmaki gooseberry varieties came from a  
> plant or
> plants collected wild off a Finnish island and apparently they had  
> no idea
> what a gem they had found.  Whether these are actually wild  
> collected or
> crosses of a wild plant, they are very disease resistant, not just  
> to mildew
> but also to the cursed leaf spot.  The taller red one must have  
> originally
> been called "Leepa Red" but someone has decided it would be better  
> to link
> it name-wise to the little best seller, Hinnonmaki or Hinomaki Yellow.
> (This is shortened Finnish that just happens to read like Japanese.)
>    The gooseberry seems to have been extremely popular in England as
> something that the average backyard gardener could play with and  
> produce his
> own crosses, so thousands of vars have been named.  These will  
> probably be
> largely swept away by the new disease to be replaced by crosses of our
> native vars (many of them crosses to the Euro) and of new collected  
> vars or
> old lesser known cultivars that turn out resistant.  I think it was  
> John S
> who recommended Red Jacket aka Josslyn, which sounded good but my  
> old Rodale
> book said it was prone to mildew if grown further south.  I would  
> like to
> try Invicta (which seemed to have the most supporters and detractors),
> Jahn's Prairie and Jeanne,  but prefer to start with sure bets.  I
> definitely want to try Glenndale, but only Edible Landscaping  
> carries it for
> a $20 price tag.
>    The oft reviled Canadian black currant releases Consort, Crusader  
> and
> that other one have been crossed to European black currants to  
> produce Ben
> Lomand, now the most widely planted black currant in Europe for  
> juice, and
> others in the Scottish "Ben" series.  (Ben meaning mountain.)   
> Resistance
> varies, I hope in a year or two there are more of these available.   
> Titania
> doesn't sound all that great to me, has anyone tasted it?
> I put in my order to Whitman Farms:
> 2 Hinomaki Yellow (and they are little bitty horizontal guys,  
> nothing like
> the others!)
> 1 Hinomaki Red
> 1 amish Red
> 1 Crandall currant
> 1 Ben Lomand
> 1 Ben Sarek
> 1 Black Down
> With shipping they ran $10 each.  I was idly wondering if I might  
> want to
> change my order when the plants suddenly arrived, 8 days after I  
> dropped my
> check in the mail!  It must have been their first shipping day, as  
> there
> were still leaves on some of the plants.  I put the little H yellows  
> right
> in the garden in the rose row, plenty of thorns for company there,  
> and the
> Crandall down at the end of the blueberry row as it sounds like it  
> might
> come in so late it could be netted with them.  The others are in  
> pots while
> I study my compass and the tree line for the black currants to be  
> shaded in
> the afternoon.  This is the first time I've seen what the thorns on
> gooseberries are normally like.  When I told my husband that the  
> local plant
> I collected is the lowest of the low flavorwise and told him the  
> name, he
> exclaimed, "Pigswill?  What kind of name is that?!"  I said, "Pixwell,
> Pixwell, because it doesn't have many thorns."  But it will be called
> Pigswill in this household forever more.  I know that's what it is  
> because
> the fruit starts out sour, then goes completely insipid when it's  
> ripe.
> Never seems to have any other flavor.  I got out this past sunny  
> weekend,
> yes, sunshine, I'd forgotten what it was like, and dug out a 4 young  
> mimosa
> trees and all kinds of weeds that were competing, and found about 5  
> rooted
> sprouts around the edges of my Pigswill plant.  Next some phosphate,  
> and
> Rodale press said that Ribes do better without commercial fertilizer  
> so I'll
> just give it some rock dust and a speck of fertilizer next spring.   
> The
> plant's really big enough, I'd just like it to crop better till my new
> plants kick in.
>    I think the info on new Ribes introductions is worth getting into  
> Pomona
> for the winter issue, so that people have time to order for spring.   
> Any
> further comments you'd like to see included?    Donna
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