Today’s letters page in the print version of The Telegraph carries an abridged version of one sent to them by Kate Metcalfe – the very ‘my friend Kate’ who features in my Thorny Problems page all too frequently.
The single half-standard gooseberry bush she bought (from Ken Muir, and yes, it did cost quite a bit) has so far yielded 50 lbs of fruit in 5 years. So this year her goosegogs are ‘costing her 60p per lb, and of course getting cheaper every year’ (despite not going metric yet, she can do sums, because she is an accountant and has such facts at her fingertips).
I can’t understand why anyone would grow anything other than half-standard gooseberry bushes (i.e those with short trunks, so that the fruiting branches are more-or-less waist-height instead of ground-sweeping), since they do make the horrid job of picking them a whole lot easier.
The two I have on my allotment, despite pretty savage pruning, are staggeringly prolific and provide far more fruit than I could possibly consume or freeze, so I have been known to prune off whole branches and give them away, laden, to friends. A pretty mean version of PYO, I suppose.
Amongst her many other talents my friend Kate is (unlike me) a pudding-maker par excellence and a generous hostess. Crumbles, fools, goosegog muffins, g’gogs-in-the-hole, you name it – half the village will have savoured it!