This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
My experience of cottage-gardens in this neighbourhood leads me to believe that their owners generally understand the cultivation of these fruit-bushes very well, with the exception that they are too negligent in keeping up a proper supply of young ones. In ordinary fruiting seasons the price of ripe Gooseberries or Black Currants usually averages one shilling per gallon - a much lower price than that quoted by one correspondent - a fact that will show plainly how largely these fruits are grown. I think the tendency amongst Gooseberry-bushes to die off in large branches at a time when the trees should be at the height of their growth and productiveness, is due more to hard pruning than to any other cause. It should be borne in mind that both the Gooseberry and Currant propagate or renew themselves naturally by suckers, and consequently manifest a great tendency to develop that form of growth after a certain number of years. The maintenance of a clean stem can thus rarely be obtained, except at the expense of life itself.
I expect the fifty-year-old bushes mentioned by one correspondent must have gone through many of these renewals, and have about as much of the original tree in them as the celebrated gun that was still the same, but had had a new "lock, stock, and barrel." An old Gooseberry plantation is generally one of the most unsightly objects in a garden, and miserable attempts at renovation are often made by planting young bushes as the old ones die out, failure almost always resulting. No safer plan can be adopted to maintain an efficient supply of clean bushes and fine fruit than the plantation of young trees, in number equal to one-third of the entire number grown. This should be done about every third or fourth year, and in quarters of fresh soil devoted exclusively to these, and not in the old-fashioned and objectionable manner of putting them all round the quarters next the walks. The best manure for bush fruits is to be found in a well-rotted rubbish-heap - stuff that is sufficiently nutritive without developing that coarse growth usually engendered by strong manure.
Forking should be done sparingly among the roots, except where, when in a young state, the rows are sufficiently far apart to admit of vegetables being grown for a year or two between them; and this is much the wisest plan, as it allows of that after-expansion of growth so essential to the health and productiveness of the trees. I have often been surprised to see the extraordinary quantity of fruit that bushes so cared for will produce, the failure of the crop being a rarity. Perhaps in cottage-gardens the better plan is to have these descriptions of fruits planted in rows at wide intervals across the garden, the intervening spaces being cropped with vegetables. This arrangement, however, must depend somewhat upon the shape of the ground; for small gardens it is usually the most economical. When the bushes are carefully tended, no portion of the garden will yield so lucrative a return. For consumption by the cottager's family, next to the Apple, the fruits of the Gooseberry and Black Currant are the most wholesome and useful.
It would indeed be well if every cottage possessed in winter its carefully-preserved store of jam from these fruits; and when we compare the very high price towards which butter is now tending, with the low figure at which sugar can be obtained, it is somewhat a matter for surprise that in our rural cottage homes nice, wholesome, home-made jam is not more generally consumed. However, the consideration of these things might lead us into questions of domestic economy that this is not the proper place to discuss; and I will leave it by expressing the hope that in these, as well as in other matters, the people may become yet more "educated." - A. D., in 'Gardeners' Chronicle.'