Regular Pruning of Gooseberries – an Annual Necessity


During the spring and summer period, gooseberries give extremely many new shoots, in a couple of years turning the bush into a real thorny thicket. Regular and, most importantly, correct pruning of this bush in spring and autumn is able to correct the situation.

Why do gooseberries need pruning?

If you do not control the formation of new shoots and the formation of existing ones, the shoots actively branch and multiply. In a couple of years, the bush becomes impervious to light, turns into a tangle of prickly branches, the berries become smaller, but diseases flourish, and all kinds of pests settle on the branches.

Due to the lack of nutrition, new shoots gradually become weaker, the yield of the bush falls. Without proper care, the branches gradually elongate, lie down on the ground and root. The gooseberry loses its shape, ceases to yield and itself becomes a source of infections and pests.

Pruning gooseberries is necessary not only to periodically get rid of old, withered or damaged branches. Its purpose is to form a complete bush, where there will be branches not of the same age, and strong shoots of different years and actively bearing fruit, and new ones.

This will maintain a consistently good yield over a long period of time. And weak shoots and old branches should be properly cut out, so that zero replacement shoots can be replaced.

Entering the age of 3-4 years at the time of fruiting, gooseberry can grow and actively give berries for up to fifteen years and longer. The most productive shoots are 6-8 years old.

But good results can be achieved only if the bush is cared for properly, and its pruning is carried out practically from the moment of planting.


When to prune gooseberries?

When the harvest is harvested and the leaves have already fallen, it’s the best time to get the gooseberry bushes in order. All the necessary work should be done before the arrival of stable frosts. This period is considered the best for a number of reasons:

  • after the harvest the gardener has the necessary free time;
  • the absence of leaves allows a good look at the plant, correctly assess its condition and decide how it should be pruned;
  • in autumn the sap movement slows down: pruning will not be as traumatic for gooseberries.

Before the real winter frosts come, the cuts will have time to dry out and will not lead to diseases.

How to prune gooseberries before planting?

If the bush is weak, to increase branching, all annual shoots on the seedling should be properly shortened, leaving two buds each. On a sufficiently developed young plant, you can leave up to four healthy buds.

It is not necessary to leave weak shoots. They will only take away nutrition from the rest, but will not be able to form good skeletal branches in the future. If everything is done correctly, by the winter of the first year of life, when the pruning of gooseberry in autumn is completed, there will be at least five or six one-year shoots on the bush.

In the 2nd year, during the spring pruning, the shoots of the previous year by a third or a quarter should be shortened. At the same time or in the fall, the branches that are crooked, weak or with signs of disease are removed. Such sanitation of the bush should now be carried out regularly. With the summer pruning of sick and dry shoots, it is better not to delay, so that infection or pests have not passed on to the healthy part of the plant.

If gooseberries actively give shoots, but the fruits do not look strong, then on the fourth or fifth year of life the aging branches are cut to the first from the top lateral branching with strong growths. When the fruiting branches are still strong and can produce many berries, it will be correct to postpone the procedure for a year.

Already three years after the beginning of growth, the gooseberry branch stops to lengthen noticeably, and the main growth on it comes from the lateral branches of the 1st and 2nd order. Old fruit-trees with shrunken berries are removed after harvesting, thereby directing nutrition to branches bearing the full-grown crop.

Such pruning can be considered an easy rejuvenation procedure, which prolongs the fruiting period of individual branches and allows you to get more growth than usual. In subsequent years, such summer pruning of the gooseberry bush is necessary every year or, in special cases, every other year.

Shaping gooseberry bushes

The first pruning aimed at the competent formation of gooseberry bushes, is carried out to the moment when the seedling enters the soil.

Pruning gooseberries in autumn for beginners

For beginners, the order of pruning gooseberry in the fall needs a step-by-step explanation. But do not worry: it is enough to do this work correctly once, so that next season you can feel like an experienced gardener.

  1. The first step. The bush should be well examined to find all old, broken and diseased branches. Old branches are easy to recognize: they are thicker than others, have a darker color and may look slightly dried out. If the vast majority of the branches look like this, only a third of them can be removed in one season. Start pruning with the diseased and broken ones – these are always removed out of turn.
  2. Second step. Take a closer look at the shoots at the bottom of the plant. They are lying on the ground or leaning toward it. From a fruiting standpoint, they are useless. They are almost always shaded, weak and diseased more often than others. They, too, must be removed.
  3. Third step. Now the body of the bush can be thinned by removing competing shoots, as well as those that point inward, interfere with each other or injure neighboring shoots.
  4. Fourth step. With poor circulation of air masses inside the bush can develop a very unpleasant and quite frequent disease of gooseberry – powdery mildew. Its appearance is promoted by warm and humid weather, as well as constant shading and stagnant air. Therefore, it is better to remove unnecessary fruit-bearing branches. Particular attention is paid to the central part of the bush.

As a result of the work performed in the plant should remain no more than 10-15 skeletal branches. When the pruning of gooseberry bushes in autumn is completed, it remains only to protect the root system of the plant from the cold with mulch. As mulch, you can use decomposed manure, compost or ordinary peat. Measuring from the base of the shrub about half a meter, outline a circle. Along its perimeter and should be placed mulch.

Pruning to rejuvenate gooseberries

Seven- and eight-year-old plants produce the maximum yield, but the gardener should not rest on his laurels. Without regular pruning and replacing old branches with new ones, fruiting can decrease dramatically year after year.

It is important to ensure that the bush consists of shoots of different ages from 1 to 8 years. And frail, unfit for fruiting branches should be removed in time, after harvesting.

A peculiarity of some gooseberry varieties is the complete absence of replacement shoots at the time when the bushes enter the age of maturity. To resume growth, bushes are usually cut back more than usual and fertilized.

In summer, it is easy to place fertilizer under the bush in a shallow trench dug around the plant along the perimeter of the crown, about 30 cm deep.

Starting from the age of 9-10 years, the oldest, weakened branches are cut out on gooseberries, replacing them with root shoots one-year old. Such pruning of gooseberry should take place annually in spring or autumn.

For adult bushes, it is correct to make props, which will prevent the outermost branches from sinking to the ground and rooting uncontrollably. This measure will keep the berries and all plants safe from some soil pests and mold fungi.


Tools and materials for work with gooseberries

Gooseberries are not an easy plant. The thorns, which are generously scattered on its branches, can seriously damage the skin. Therefore, it is better to immediately use thick or rubberized gloves that will reliably protect your hands from injury. In addition, before carrying out the work, you should make sure that the work clothes do not leave exposed areas of the body.

Tools that may come in handy:

  • Secateurs. It is best to shorten the young branches of the plant with a secateurs.
  • Lopper. This tool is ideal for work on thinning thickened or old plantings. It is convenient to use if you have to cut out the average thickness of the branches.
  • Saw. Dried and, for this reason, very hard shoots and knots are better to saw out.

In order to choose the right tool, it is necessary to know the age of the gooseberry. Working with a young plant, you can get by with a secateurs only. But preparing to work this indispensable tool for the gardener, it is necessary to sharpen it well. Sharp blades are less likely to traumatize the plant. The cut should remain smooth without breaks, flattening and kicked bark. All tools are decontaminated before use.

The use of disinfectants and healing agents after gooseberry pruning helps speedy healing of wounds.

If the gooseberry is trimmed in time and competently, the bush can live and bear fruit for more than 25 years. And every year it will please its owner with a good harvest of large and delicious berries. Told in this article, how to prune gooseberry in autumn, we have tried to arm you with knowledge that will help in practical work.

Jonathan Harvey
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