I have no idea why, as kids, we called gooseberries ‘gooz-gogs’, or why most kids nowadays have no idea what these berries are. So it was sheer pleasure last summer to watch a whole family of children who knew all about them, and just loved crunching on them. They came back and back to the roadside garden every day for a week as the stripy green fruit began turning red. When they polished off the last one, I invited them into my own garden and they had another feast!
I grow two types of gooseberries, a fruit that values a cold winter and a cool-ish summer. The first is a desert gooseberry which was given to me by a friend now in her nineties. Its berries are smaller than other varieties but despite never turning red (or even pink) they becomes translucent in early summer, and are so sweet that they never makes it into the house – we just stand in the garden and feast on them. The second type is probably ‘Pax’, and its berries grow very large – about a third the size of a hen’s egg. They turns red if left on the bush but are never super-sweet no matter how ripe they get (those kids visiting the garden didn’t seem to mind!). These gooseberries are great for the freezer, and in winter, the ones from our own kitchen garden get turned into gooseberry shortcake whenever we have a community gathering.
Right now, the roadside garden gooz-gogs are sporting delicate little berries. I fed the bushes loads of seaweed and donkey manure during their dormant winter period so I don’t need to do anything more to help them on their way – the wax-eyes will attend to any aphids, hopping through the branches and gobbling up the pests, and the wet conditions we’re having at the moment will soon bulk up the berries.
I can’t wait for the return of those gooseberry-gobbling children come summer!