Currants and Gooseberries

Keys for Success

Check with your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office to be sure that it is legal to grow Ribes species in your area.

Unlike most other fruits, currants and gooseberries grow well in partial shade. They prefer cool, moist locations on a north slope or the northern side of a building, for example.

Choose a site with good air circulation to avoid powdery mildew, a disease that commonly plagues Ribes.

Currants and gooseberries prefer rich soil with a high water-holding capacity. To prepare your site, incorporate organic matter well ahead of planting, particularly if you have light, sandy soil.

Ribes are heavy nitrogen feeders. Mulches high in nitrogen, such as grass clippings, are ideal. If you use highcarbon mulches, such as straw, you may need to apply extra nitrogen fertilizer.

Prune annually to remove four-year-old canes. Mature plants should have about eight bearing canes.

Currants and gooseberries (Ribes species) are hardy and easy to grow. Their sweet-tart fruits make excellent jams, pies, and jellies, and they are popular ornamental plants. Although many people today are unfamiliar with these fruits, New Yorkers grew 2,700 acres of them in the 1920s.

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