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By: Hannes Muesch
The Gooseberry is one of my favorite fruits. Growing up in Germany, I’ve had the privilege of having this tart, prickly fruit every summer. We grew them in our yard, and you could readily find them in the produce isle of your supermarket. Here in the US I’ve never seen them for sale anywhere. On a hike in the Bay Area a few years ago I saw a plant that looked somewhat like the gooseberry that I remembered. Looking around on the internet, I found that there are indeed wild gooseberries in the US, and Sierra Gooseberries here in California. Depending which source you trust, they may or may not be good to eat. I’ve never had a chance to try them; whenever I saw them in the wild, the timing was off, and they were unripe. Below is a picture of one taken last year in the Las Trampas Wilderness area. With my love for Gooseberries rekindled, I set out to see if I could find a cultivar to grow in my backyard. They are hard to come by. Partly because they are unpopular, but also because the are illegal in some states because they can be host to a disease that kills off pine trees. But fear not: growing gooseberries is legal in California. I’ve had the local nursery order two plants for me. They are dormant in winter and are shipped at that time without risk of killing them. I’ve had them in my yard for three years now, and last year was the first they produced a modest harvest. Below is a picture taken this morning: Looks like we will have a few this year as well unless the birds get to them first.