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Summer Fruits

If you haven't tried them, how about planting a summer fruit bush in your garden — there's no beating gooseberry pie!

The gooseberry has long been a favorite of the British, but it enjoys nowhere near the popularity in the United States. As a matter of fact, for about 100 years, the tart little fruit wasn't welcome on these shores. At a time when white pine was an important lumber source, the gooseberry (and its cousin, the currant) was identified as an alternate host for a disease called white pine blister rust. Gooseberries and currants were banned and eradicated.

Fortunately, most gooseberry plants are now disease-resistant and many American gardeners have begun to grow them more and more. They prefer high potassium and low nitrogen content in the soil, which will help cut down on powdery mildew.

Before planting, however, do be sure to check with your local agricultural extension agent to find about growing these fruits in your state. With the all-clear, the three varieties below make wonderful choices — especially for homemade pies. Plus, for about the price of a bowl-full of gooseberries from the market, you should be able to buy three gooseberry plants from your garden center, so give it a try!

Ribes grossularia

Ribes grossularia

'Hinnomaki Red'
gooseberry

The 'Hinnomaki Red' is one of the newer, disease-resistant gooseberries, producing a larger berry with a kiwi-like taste and texture. A word of warning: this plant is very thorny, so be careful picking those berries.

Ribes grossularia

Ribes grossularia

'Invicta'
gooseberry

The 'Invicta' is also disease-resistant and produces a medium to large light-green berry. It also has thorns.

Ribes aureum

Ribes aureum

'Redstart'
red currant

A cousin to the gooseberry, red currants haven't been widely grown in the US because of the same disease problem gooseberries suffered. They are popular in Europe, especially with the Dutch and British.



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This segment appears in show #2713.

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Published August 31, 2007