CUTTINGS

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The Independent Online
Before I went on holiday I thinned the gooseberry bushes, leaving some fruit to ripen to what I hoped would be amber perfection. A reader, Mr Higginbottom of Youlgreave, Derbyshire, had reminded me of the delights of dessert gooseberries. "To most people" he wrote, "the gooseberry is a toughened polythene sac filled with an acid strong enough to take the enamel off your teeth. But varieties like 'Langley Gage', 'Whitesmith' and 'Whinham's Industry', properly treated, can yield delicious, aromatic fruit.

"There is no substitute for double digging and tons of ancient compost, followed up by copious mulching and a twice yearly feed. To develop their full flavour, gooseberries need trace elements and magnesium as well as the high potash fertiliser generally recommended. The second application should follow fruiting, when the laterals for the next year's crop can be shortened to five leaves. Blackbirds and thrushes like gooseberry plots. A ferocious cat or nets are the only answer."

I fell down at the last post. No dessert gooseberries this year.

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