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Currants/Gooseberries in Zone 7 clay soils

 
Posts: 66
Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
6
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In the past several years I have tried currants and gooseberries, but they struggle horribly. Its not uncommon to get over 100 in late July and August in West Ky. So my question is do they require a much looser soil and shade both? I am thinking I may try growing them in pots and moving them into heavily shaded locations as it gets much warmer. If it is just the soil I could try growing them in a hugelkultur bed. Currently I have them planted with my hardy kiwi of which has grown tremendously in the shade while the currants and gooseberries have barely hung on. Thoughts?
 
Posts: 28
Location: Kentucky - Zone6
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I am in Northern Kentucky with heavy clay. I have South/South East facing gooseberries in a raised bed that do fine in warm weather. I planted currants North/North East so barely any sun and they are struggling mightily as yours. They are only in about 4 inches of topsoil/compost versus foot and a half at least for the gooseberries.

My guess it is not the sun but the roots of your plants having trouble digging into the clay soil (same as mine)

My 2 cents

M
 
Kevin Goheen
Posts: 66
Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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I appreciate the input. I will probably try a bit of potted, raised beds, and hugelkultur. I may try this with red raspberries this year as well. Thanks!
 
pollinator
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We have around a foot of soil and then solid clay. NOTHING gets down into that clay, not even huge mature trees get roots down into it. But currents grow very well on top of it, I'm also zone 7 but if it got to 100 here we would think the sun had expanded, 70 is our normal high.
I wonder if it is a combination of poor rooting and drying out, I doubt string sun helps as they are woodland plants.
 
Kevin Goheen
Posts: 66
Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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Skandi Rogers wrote:We have around a foot of soil and then solid clay. NOTHING gets down into that clay, not even huge mature trees get roots down into it. But currents grow very well on top of it, I'm also zone 7 but if it got to 100 here we would think the sun had expanded, 70 is our normal high.
I wonder if it is a combination of poor rooting and drying out, I doubt string sun helps as they are woodland plants.



Clay causes several hurdles for us like with apples, peaches, lavender, and more. It definately makes for interesting methods to try and compensate for the heavy soil. Also yeah it does get very hot here in the states. I have heard it can get close to 100 at times in Chicago. The coldest I have ever seen here is -10, and the hottest I have ever seen is 115 about six or so years ago. Normally we don't drop below 0 or go too high above 100. We do have fruits that grow naturally, that because of the heat are shade trees like servicebrries and pawpaws.
 
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Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Kevin,

I love gooseberries! Our climate is pretty similar, although I don't think we reach 100F most summers. Ribes are not going to be impressed with -10F that is nothing for them. The heat is a stress.

I've been propagating two cultivars pixwell and captivator. The Captivators do well in clay (since that is all we have). They will take a couple years to get going. The main issue here has been moisture. They need good moisture the first year or two, and a summer drought makes them lose their foliage and a few died. The second year they had much more growth. The other issue I had was that they are a major japanese beetle forage, and recovered very poorly from it. I put in some bluebird houses and quit mowing short and they did much better. They are in a mix of sun and shade, and doing fine either, but they have pretty thick mulch in the sun.

The Invicta gooseberries had some mildew, new last year too early to propagate. They are a newer one i am trying. Pixwell did not do well but I am trying it in some other places. The clear winner so far is captivator.
 
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I'm also in Western, KY (near Benton). I just bought some currants and jostaberries to plant. Gonna follow this to see if I can learn anything.
 
Posts: 40
Location: Lexington, KY
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Hi Kevin. I'm in central Kentucky (Lexington) and have two gooseberry bushes on the south side of my garden shed that do very well. They also get dappled shade from a nearby tree in the morning. I did not plant them, so I don't know if anything was done to the soil where they were planted over ten years ago, but the rest of our yard has clay in it. I wish I knew the variety. I know nothing about gooseberries, but since our weather and soil are similar, perhaps shade is the only difference.

...It just dawned on me that rabbits live under that shed. There's a good chance my gooseberries are getting a healthy dose of rabbit poop too.
 
Kevin Goheen
Posts: 66
Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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forest garden woodworking
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Kevin,

I love gooseberries! Our climate is pretty similar, although I don't think we reach 100F most summers. Ribes are not going to be impressed with -10F that is nothing for them. The heat is a stress.

I've been propagating two cultivars pixwell and captivator. The Captivators do well in clay (since that is all we have). They will take a couple years to get going. The main issue here has been moisture. They need good moisture the first year or two, and a summer drought makes them lose their foliage and a few died. The second year they had much more growth. The other issue I had was that they are a major japanese beetle forage, and recovered very poorly from it. I put in some bluebird houses and quit mowing short and they did much better. They are in a mix of sun and shade, and doing fine either, but they have pretty thick mulch in the sun.

The Invicta gooseberries had some mildew, new last year too early to propagate. They are a newer one i am trying. Pixwell did not do well but I am trying it in some other places. The clear winner so far is captivator.



That is really good to know. I will probably have to try Captivator this year. I want Hinnomaki whether I have to grow it in a pot or not because it looks amazing on all the pictures with hibiscus red fruit. I do wonder if currants/goosberries were crossed with the red flowering currant from California if they could be grown much further South? Also I know there is a Missouri gooseberry, maybe it does a lot better in clay soils?
 
Kevin Goheen
Posts: 66
Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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Update: the currants and gooseberries have done excellent so far this spring. The winter was wet and relatively warm, and may have allowed the roots to much better establish in the usually hard clay. Also yes I would classify them as guild plants for hardy kiwi just like blackberries for grapes. We even have some gooseberries forming!
 
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