We have half a dozen or so very productive gooseberry bushes in the veg and fruit garden, a mix of both dessert and the usual green. I’m not keen on gooseberries as a fruit for desserts really but I do like gooseberry jam and the fruit makes an excellent wine, so I think they are worth growing!
Each year in late winter we prune and weed and feed the bushes with ash from the wood fire which helps them flower and fruit well. The fresh green leaves are lovely to see in spring, all that promise and a welcome sight at the start of the season. However, last year the bushes were decimated by pigeon damage, they stripped the leaves and young fruit and broke branches with their weight. It seemed to happen overnight, one day there were lovely green full bushes hanging with fruit, the next a complete mess and no fruit left. Although we have lots of pigeons around (who doesn’t?) they hadn’t targeted the gooseberries before like this, although they have damaged the buds on the fruit trees and ash trees in the garden.
So, this year we decided to take some early action and be ready for the pesky birds. After weeding through the bushes and planting lots of nasturtiums underneath which are so good for the bees and provide ground cover against too many weeds we pushed canes topped with pots into the ground around the bushes and draped netting over, fixing it to the ground with small slabs and wire fixings. This system is an idea picked up from Monty on Gardener’s World and has worked really well for our currant bushes in the past few years.
Let’s just hope this is enough to keep the pigeons at bay and provide us with a good crop, look out for the update in a month or so!