does anyone have any experience with these types of bushes? thanks.
I ate a lot of both growing up- enough for a lifetime... Both a small, easy to maintain, and fairly productive. Most people, in my experience, don't like to eat currants. They are quite sour and a few go a long way. Gooseberries are delicious, but the flavor doesn't lend itself to a lot of things. I can't see myself every planting any. I'd rather have some blueberries or raspberries.
I have grown both here in MD. We had currants growing at the house where I grew up (in CT) so I actually like eating them fresh - even though they are pretty tart. Currant jelly goes well with red meat (we canned and preserved everything when I was a kid). I planted gooseberries just to see what they're like, and they are pretty tasty.
I'm at a new house now, so can't give you any current (pun intended) info. I might plant some more some day.
if you're thinking of planting either, find a source (probably mail order - another poster mentioned Burnt Ridge Nursery) that sells newer, probably European varieties. they'll have better taste. Red Lake currants and Pixwell gooseberries are the old standards, and neither is very good.
thanks for the replies. I am planning to plant the black currants for drying, I have eaten the red currant and they are tart, but I want to grow them anyway, as well as the gooseberries. I also will do blueberries and raspberries. I have loads of space. thanks. again, any other suggestions would be appreciated.
I am planting both and have about 20 plants right now. They are shrubs that like cooler temperatures though. I'm in zone 6. My first plants were purchased at a local nursery and are pretty uninspired varieties, but they started producing last year. We eat them straight off the plant. I have since ordered many from Whitmans in OR which I recommend if you want to try your hand at them. I'm not real sure how they like zone 7, but I've been surprised by a lot of things!
Gooseberry plants develop a rounded form from their drooping branches, and can get from a few feet to about six feet tall, depending on the variety. They can self-propagate from stem tips that touch the ground and eventually form a thicket. The thorns most have make heavy leather pruning gloves advisable.
I have had Pixwell in my garden for years, as well as a couple of Japanese ones, but I don't get many berries. They always flower in the spring--I suspect the sparrows eat the flowers. I did some heavy pruning last year, and am wondering if any will produce this time.
They can make an effective, almost impenetrable hedge at the edge of your property; if you have an area you wish to discourage traffic through they can be as effective as some of the bush roses for that.