Beware of sharp spines when picking gooseberries. You will need to wear leather gloves and follow this advice for the correct pruning method.

 

A gardener’s advice

1. In winter, when you should do the main prune, cut back branch leaders of established bushes by half their new growth. But if birds are likely to damage buds, delay pruning until bud-burst so they do not strip the few remaining buds.

2. To encourage spur formation, prune the strongest side shoots to 8cm of new growth and the weaker ones to 3cm. Remove the weakest shoots completely, cut flush with the branch.

3. If a branch has drooped to the ground, choose a new shoot as a replacement and cut back the drooping branch to the source of the new shoot. Prune the new branch by at least half to ensure sturdy growth. Keep the bush's centre open. Aim to create a plant with a goblet shape, to make picking easier, and with space in the centre of the bush so that air can circulate around the fruit, helping to prevent disease.

4. In midsummer shorten all of the side shoots to 5 leaves, cutting just above a leaf joint. Do not prune the branch leaders.

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