Questions on: Gooseberries
Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service
Q: We live in southern California, but have a weekend home on Big Bear Lake, which is located in the San Bernardino Mountains (7,500 elevation). We plan on planting raspberry, blackberry and gooseberry bushes next weekend. Any tips to help us get started on the right foot? Our cabin is on hillside and gets plenty of afternoon sun. We have very dry conditions, but we do have a drip irrigation system. The soil is hard and not particularly good. (e-mail reference)
A: It is important to do all you can to modify and improve the soil. Use copious amounts of organic matter, such as sphagnum peat moss or well-aged compost. Extensively work it into the planting site and don't worry about using too much. Set up your drip irrigation system to totally wet the entire area with each operation. When the soil is almost totally dry, run it again. If you don't know the quality of the water you are using, at least get it tested for soluble salts. Don't plant too deeply, which is a common mistake!
Q: We just moved to our farm here near Ellendale and want to plant some fruit trees and bushes What kind of apple trees would grow best here? I would also like to plant some gooseberries. I know gooseberries will grow , as a neighbor has an old one they would like to get rid of. The gooseberry bush, located underneath another tree, is around 50 years old and quite large. I know I cannot safely remove the entire plant without damaging the tree. The bottom of the bush, with all its branches, is about 3 feet by 3 feet. How much will I need to take to get a viable plant , and when would be the best time to dig them? Also, I have a chance to get some mature grape vines from a friend in Minneapolis. Will they grow here? (Ellendale, N.D.)
A: Plenty of apples: Hazen, Sweet Sixteen, Haralson, Fireside, Honeygold, Prairie Spy, State Fair and Redwell to give you some selections off the top of my head. Concerning the gooseberry bush, dig ASAP and get as much of the root system as possible, after cutting it back to about 4-inch stubs. Grapes will grow in North Dakota, but it depends on the variety. If the friend is willing to give you some canes to root and try, give it a shot. Your location is almost in what is considered the "banana belt" of North Dakota, so your options would be open for better selections than for much of the rest of the state.
A: It sounds like rust, and at this stage there isn't anything you can do about it. Next year, spray with Bordeaux mixture after the leaves have unfolded. Strawberry weed control is a challenge. There are both grassy and broadleaf weed control products that can be used according to certain label instructions/restrictions. For broadleaf control, some formulations of 2,4-D are acceptable -- just the amine or salt form, not the ester form. Make sure you get the formulation that has strawberry on the label for broadleaf weed control. For grassy weeds, products like Poast, Fusilade, and Prisim can be used. Sinbar can be used after post-harvest renovation. Again, I repeat, be sure to read the label carefully, and know the cultivar of strawberry that you are growing, as all are not equally tolerant to these herbicides.
A: The currants and gooseberries are being attacked by the currant fruit fly. To control, spray them with Sevin when the blooms are about 80 percent withered and fallen. Repeat in seven to 10 days.
Follow excellent sanitation practices. Clean up all fallen fruit, and cultivate the soil around the plants.
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