[NAFEX] Gooseberries for TN; kudos to Lee Reich

Richard Moyer ramoyer at gmail.com
Mon Oct 5 20:54:28 EDT 2009


Thoughts on gooseberry discussion:
Donna, in our experience in East TN, birds have not been a problem on our
gooseberries.  The bit of bird damage we have is on the thornless (or nearly
so) ones.  Glenndale, Invicata and Amish Seedling bear very well, and are
not damaged significantly by birds.

As for netting, we put two corners of big pieces on long (bamboo) poles,
then drape the netting over the sour cherry trees.  Saw this in Organic
Gardening mag.  Put netting on as soon as the cherries start to ripen, and
remove at last picking.

We also netted the gooseberries some years, then discovered that furry
critters were eating them instead of birds.  Live trapping racoons and
possums helped limit damage.  Again, merely draped the netting over the
plants just before ripe, then removed after last picking.

Ed Mashburn had many of his gooseberries trained to a vertical, 1-2 wire
trellis, got them up off the ground and easy to pick and prune.  Especially
useful for the floppy ones.

Invicta, a green fruited one, has a very thin skin, and is my wife's
favorite gooseberry for fresh eating.  I prefer Captivator and Glenndale
fresh.  Invicta works very well for us in frozen desserts, reminiscent in
flavor and color to lime sherbert.  Our kids eat many gooseberries fresh, as
previously noted.  We freeze gooseberries like blackberries and blueberries,
then use them in the winter primarily in cobblers.

Lee Reich does a fine job writing about gooseberries (and other fruits) in
his Uncommon Fruits books.  He distinguishes between dessert and cooking
gooseberries, talks about culture, uses, sources, cultivars, etc.  Worth
reading his chapter-length treatment of gooseberries, especially for someone
planting them in quantity.  He suggests interlibrary loan as one method of
accessing his books.

As for one type of berry attracting birds from another and thereby limiting
damage, in observations at our place this is overrated.  I don't recall all
the species, but I do remember that flocks of birds tended to raid the
cherries, and solitary birds preyed on the mulberries and juneberries,
different birds favoring different fruits all at once.  These fruits
surrounded our sunroom where we ate all our meals, so plenty of time for
close observation all season long.  Our east TN birds obviously ignore
theories on how they're supposed to feed!

Donna, glad you are doing your homework, and are putting in gooseberries.
Very reliable fruit for the upper south, in our experience, re: cold, late
freezes; jap beetle and deer resistance.  One more gem from Ed. M. that
really helped us establish Ribes: use plenty of mulch over the roots to keep
them cool, limit weeds, and build the soil.  He gathered bags of leaves for
this.  Lee Reich another advocate of this style of gardening, first in
practice and then in print.

Richard Moyer
Castlewood, VA
Jujubes drying beside me, by the hundreds.
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