Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Essential Tools and Equipment for Growing and Enjoying Gooseberries

Berry rake for harvesting gooseberries

Berry rake for harvesting gooseberries

Tending your gooseberry bushes or cooking with gooseberries means having the right tools to do the job in both the garden and the kitchen.

Below is a list of items to consider. If you don’t already have some of these items, please check our Resources about Gooseberries for recommended suppliers for acquiring the right tools and equipment.

Gooseberry tools and equipment for growing and harvesting:

Berry Rake: This tool looks a bit like an enclosed dustpan with comb-like tines on one side and a handle on the other. You just “scoop” the rake along the stem of the plant to dislodge the berries. You can get berry rakes in a range of materials, from plastic to copper. You can also find instructions online to make your own if you’re so inclined. Just keep in mind that you might wind up with some broken berries harvesting with a rake rather than by hand.

Bird Netting: Unless you plan to grow gooseberries for the local wildlife, you’ll probably want to protect your precious gooseberry globes from the brazen snacking of local birds.

Harvest Basket: Keep in mind that ripe gooseberries are delicate, so you don’t want to pile them up too high (no more than 2 berries deep). Use a shallow harvesting basket to gather your crop without bursting the berries.

Heavy-Duty Leather Gloves: Take those thorns seriously! Your basic gardening gloves aren’t going to cut it here. You want gloves that will protect your hands from those spiky thorns. And remember to wear an old, I-don’t-care-if-it-rips, long-sleeved shirt.

Loppers: As your gooseberry bushes grow, so will the canes. Since gooseberry bushes usually sport spiky thorns, pruning shears just won’t cut it. Get yourself a sturdy pair of loppers.

Tarp: If you plan to use the shake method to release your ripe gooseberries from their branches, get yourself a tarp that’s the right size for the job.

Trellis: The best way to grow gooseberries in a limited space is to train them to a trellis. There are many styles available, from virtually invisible trellis netting to more standard wooden systems.

Watering Kit: This kit is a type of drip irrigation system that cuts the time it takes to water your bushes. If you have more than one bush and your weather tends to be on the dry side, this can be a real time saver. This works with bushes planted in open land as well as in containers on your deck or patio.

Wide-Mouth Canner Pot: If you already make jam, you probably have a canner pot, or a pressure canner. If you don’t and you’re planning to make jam, you might want to consider getting a pot dedicated to canning. It comes with a special insert for safely holding and removing hot jars.

General gardening tools and equipment:

Containers and Pots

If you want to start plants indoors before the outdoor growing season commences, you can try several environmentally friendly and free ways to begin with materials you probably already have:

  • Newspaper or brown-paper pots
  • Egg cartons
  • Toilet-paper rolls (yes, these work great!)
  • Random containers, kitchen pans, or baking sheets (you might need holes drilled into the bottom for drainage)—if you have aging or rusting kitchen pans that you’re looking to replace, they make for great “starter pots” for getting your garden launched inside
  • Starter trays and peat pots

Garden Gloves

Using a pair of garden gloves—and wearing long sleeves—when you’re tending to your plants is a good way to avoid skin irritation and to protect your fingers, hands, and arms. Get a comfortable pair of gloves that fit well, so you still have full dexterity in your garden.

Garden Trowel

A useful garden tool, the garden trowel is handy when filling your containers and when mixing compost and worm castings. Avoid cheap versions that can have flimsy handles that are prone to break. Even inferior metal trowels can bend in hard clay or rocky soil. Invest in a higher quality trowel, and you’ll have it for years!

Irrigation Equipment

Many plants thrive when watered slowly and deeply. While tedious and even sometimes difficult to do with a watering can, you might want to consider an irrigation method for keeping your plants slowly and deeply watered.

A standard sprinkler system is not the best solution—while easy to set up, the wide-ranging water coverage of a sprinkler can lead to wet plant leaves that promote diseases and can encourage weeds.

A drip-watering irrigation system that operates on a timer is one of the best irrigation solutions for watering plants. This type of system better controls how much water you use, minimizes water lost to evaporation, and more exactly directs water to where you want to soak your soil. While more expensive than a simple watering can, an investment in an irrigation system can pay off—specially to ensure proper watering when you’re at work or on vacation!

Pruners or Snippers

Wear your garden gloves while pruning, and be sure to get a set of pruners or snippers that are comfortable in your hand when cutting. Don’t skimp on this—you need something that cuts well and will endure through many seasons.

Rain Barrel

Some areas of the country experience drought conditions in the spring and summer, and some municipalities may impose watering bans; that means hand watering only. If you collect rainwater, you can put it to good use when it comes time to tend your plants. Some communities offer rain barrels at a special discount to encourage water conservation.

Spade

Every gardener—no matter what plants you’re tending—needs a spade, or even several of different sizes. Use your spade to move around compost, dig soil for your initial plant hole, and to keep your garden soil tidy.

Spray Pump or Bottle

To control the emergence or spread of plant diseases and pests, get a dedicated spray bottle for your potion to do the job. This is one thing you can go basic on—no need for anything fancy, as a simple plastic spray bottle is fine.

Watering Can

Watering cans allow you to better control exactly where the water is directed in your garden. Plant leaves and fruit don’t need water, the roots in the soil do. Get yourself a good-sized watering can, and have some fun finding a watering can with an interesting design that fits your personality. Also, you want one that has a comfortable grip.

Wheelbarrow

A wheelbarrow makes it easy for you to move soil and mulch from plant to plant; and it works as an excellent mixing bowl when you’re combining the perfect soil blend. If you feel like a wheelbarrow is just a little over the top for your gardening needs, a 5-gallon bucket may suffice. Just make sure you have a good trowel to mix with.

Do you have any essential gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need for your gardening.

Do you have any essential gooseberry gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need for your gooseberry gardening.

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