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Re: jostaberries, and pole apples
I have been growing jostaberries for over three years in the Pacific NW
and can provide you with some good feedback.
Jostaberries are in the currant family (ribes nidigrolaria) and are a
cross between currants and gooseberries. This makes them a bush rather
than a cane plant and our three year old shrubs are now roughly three feet
in diameter and four feet high. I have plants in several locations ranging
from full sun to part shade. They all seem to be doing the same regardless
of location. It seems that the ones in full sun produce slightly more and
My favorite "permaculture" way of growing them is under the dripline of my
apple trees. Ribes and Malus (apple genus) are commonly found together in
the wild so very likely share some kind of mutually beneficial association.
I haven't noticed if the birds are attracted to the berries but they sure
do like to perch on the wonderful architecture of the branches.
The jostaberries have grown like crazy in this climate and I'm curious how
much bigger they'll get. One interesting thing that I have experimented
with is sticking the prunings in ground around the base of the plant to see
if they'll root. I did this last year (February) when I pruned the plant
to control its shape (they otherwise don't require any pruning). I snipped
the prunings down to about 12-18" and literally jammed them into the ground
around the parent plant. Sure enough that summer the sprouted leaves and
put on another 12" of growth! This spring I am digging them up and either
transplanting them elsewhere on our farm or giving them to friends.
The berries are rather large, averaging around 1/2" in diameter. They're
green for most of the growing season but turn a wonderful burgandy color
come late summer. You then have a small window of time to pick them before
they start dropping off the plant. When they are fully ripe they are very
sweet. Great for eating just straight. I haven't processed them into jams
or pies yet but most certainly will do so this year!
If you have any other questions please feel free to write.
C/O Permaculture West
72 Mattson Rd.
Oakville, WA 98568
ph./fx. (360) 273-7117