General characteristics of gooseberries
Unlike the classic grape that comes from the vine plant, the gooseberry is produced from a shrub belonging to the saxifragacee family, or the same as the currant. The characteristic name derives from the presence of thorns on branches and branches, which have a length of about 1 cm, therefore quite robust. The flowers develop singly or in groups of two or three, and produce a fruit with the appearance of a large oblong berry. Remember the currant, if it were not for its color and for its size that reaches up to 25 mm in diameter. The color of the fruit can vary from unripe green to violet depending on the cultivated species, but it preserves in each variety a transparent skin that reveals the vascular system of the berry. The taste is sweet, has an intense and fragrant smell but is not always welcome and therefore less requested than classic grapes. Its origin dates back to 1700 England, but it spread almost immediately throughout Europe thanks to the temperate climate of the Continent.
Variety of gooseberries
There are so many varieties available on the market. American species, as in the case of strawberry grapes, are much more resistant to diseases and pests and adapt well to the Italian climate. This is why many rootstocks come from abroad. Since England is the country of origin of this fruit, British varieties are the most numerous and easily recognizable, being the most common. An example is represented by the Careless, which is characterized by large green berries very similar to the sisters White Smith and Leveller. Vinham Industry, on the other hand, has the purple color of black table grapes, but of course the shape of the berry and the particular flavor immediately identify its differences. The American gooseberry instead, is mainly used in the industry of syrupy products. The small and round shape of its berries adapts very well to the use of machines during harvesting, ideal for industrial production. The most famous American gooseberry is the Poorman, easily recognizable from its small red berries.
This is an easily cultivable shrub also in the garden, provided that the climatic conditions of the surrounding environment do not foresee strong frosts. The plant in fact does not tolerate harsh climates, while it adapts very well to the warm or temperate climate. Before planting it is good to fertilize the soil with mature manure in order to obtain an environment rich in phosphorus and potassium. Shrubs should be trained as espalier and new shoots should be tied several times during the vegetative cycle of the plant. To obtain the space necessary for its development, even if less vigorous than the currant, the plants must be positioned at a distance of about 25 cm from each other. As for the cultivation of small fruits, the first mulch is given at the time of implantation using fabric sheets, while for the following mulchings it will be possible to use plastic sheets and mulches of organic materials. The harvest is done in summer, between June and August, cutting the bunches below the peduncle, so it is also faster than that of the classic grape.
Gooseberry: Diseases of gooseberries
Like many shrubby plants, gooseberries are subject to degenerative diseases, caused mainly by fungal infestations. In the case of this particular plant, the main enemy is oidium, which mainly attacks the red variety. The bacterium enters the lymphatic vessels of the plant producing a layer of white mold both on the leaves and on the fruit. This particular characteristic identifies oidium with white mal, a common disease also in the vine. The pathogen develops in damp environments and proliferates when a layer of water that acts as a vehicle for propagation is deposited on the leaves. To avoid the onset of this disease it is good to irrigate the shrub in the ground and never directly on the leaves, but above all when the soil shows drought. In this way water stagnations are avoided as they are the main cause of the infestation. If despite this the plants show signs of infection, the chemical cure is the only one able to eradicate the fungus.