Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Jostaberries, Not "Justaberry" It's so much more!

The jostaberry bush is not too common in the United States but if you are looking for a low maintenance, productive bush for the landscape or garden this is the bush for you.  It is a hybrid cross between a black currant and gooseberry.  There are no spines and the berries are a beautiful deep purple almost black when ripe.  They hang in clusters of 3- 5. They are great in desserts, ice cream, or jellies. They are tart but actually not too bad eaten fresh.  They are extremely healthy. Birds also like these berries.

 This bush will tolerant most soil conditions but naturally if berry production is your goal you will want to mix organic matter into the soil before planting along with a dry organic fertilizer.  I use my own mix of 1 part blood meal and 2 parts bone meal with a little greensand or azomite for trace minerals.  These bushes are very cold tolerant and will even do fine in part shade.  They are great if you are looking for an edible landscape bush

 This is a large bush needing 6-8 ft between bushes.  It will take 4 years to come into full production but will give berries prior to that.  They bear on 4 year old wood and younger so you can prune out older wood. Remove weak and crossing branches in the early spring. In the summer you can shorten the new growth to prevent the plant getting too big and completely out of control. This should also encourage the formation of fruiting buds for the next year. After several years, it may be a good idea to rejuvenate the bush by cutting out some of the oldest branches from the base, allowing new branches to grow and eventually fruit. However if you do no pruning it is still productive.

Each year you can mulch around the plant and in early spring spread a dry organic fertilizer around the root zone.  I really like this berry it's larger than black currants and and no spines to worry about like a gooseberry.  I have 4 of these bushes and will probably add a few more.  Two are in my landscape and 2 are in a berry patch.  Make sure to leave room around this bush to pick the berries.  After making jostaberry jelly, this is definitely a berry I'm looking forward to each year.  I think it would also make a great juice, syrup, and the berries canned in syrup would be great on ice cream. 

These members of the Ribes genus are highly nutritious and are easily propagated through hardwood cuttings.  I will be doing this to get some additional bushes.  If you are interested in getting some cuttings from my bushes let me know.   If you are looking for them from a nursery try Raintree or Miller.  I suggest planting in early spring.

Jostaberries and gooseberries are very popular in Europe and are slowly gaining popularity in the United States. 

Nutritional Information
  • As in blackcurrants, they too have significantly high amounts of phenolic phytochemicals especially flavones and anthocyanins. These compounds have been found to have numerous health-benefiting effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.
  • They have antioxidant and moderate amounts of vitamins A, C, and B.
Jostaberries are a good choice for an edible landscape, shelterbelt, or hedgerow.  The deer also seem to leave them alone. You can't go wrong with jostaberries.