Tag Archives: american gooseberry mildew

Mulching gooseberry and currant bushes

Last year our gooseberry bushes suffered serious American gooseberry mildew, but I made a plan to tackle it. This February, RB and I each took our masakuni shears and cut back all the old wood in both our currant and gooseberry bushes. The result was nice, open, goblet shaped bushes, ready for production.

With spring here, the area has suddenly burst to life with grass and perennial weeds, which reminded me it was time to mulch. You can barely see the bushes in these photos!

The competition from the grass and weeds is no good, as the bushes will be fighting a losing battle for water – in the image above the gooseberry bush is totally obscured by weeds.

So we gave the area a good trim, and then mulched with our big heap of composted leaves. Mulching provides 3 key functions: it suppresses weeds, helps retain moisture, and provides a dose of nutrients to the plants.

I am hopeful that this will help give us an abundant currant and gooseberry crop this year. And if the American gooseberry mildew comes back, then I will resort to pulling them all up and planting more resistant varieties.

Gooseberry mildew

When we moved in to our new house we were delighted to inherit dozens of currant and gooseberry bushes. I should have taken more heed of my vintage gardening book, How to Prune Fruit Trees, as the gooseberry bushes were in no fit shape to render mature fruits. They have developed a furry white powder mildew, also known as American gooseberry mildew.

gooseberry_mildew

These bushes are very old and seem to have remained unpruned for a few years. We will tackle the mildew in a number of steps:

– Remove infected branches now
– In winter, remove all old wood branches down to the ground
– Keep this year’s branches, as they will provide fruit next year
– Aim for goblet shaped bush with ample circulation between branches
– Resist temptation to leave branches, resulting in more but smaller fruit
– In Spring remove all but 3 strongest shoots, removing others
– Keep ground free of weeds and well mulched
– If all else fails, re-plant with resistant varieties like Invicta

gooseberry_mildew_2

Have you had any experience with white furry mildew on your gooseberries?