Gooseberries don’t mind the rain. In fact this year it is a bumper crop, loading the branches almost to breaking point already, though the fruits are still hard and tight like whiskery green bullets, and rather more sour than pickling vinegar.
The branches are defended by long hard needle-sharp spikes, pointing in all different directions and cunningly disguised under leafage and the fruit itself. Harvesting them is a test of alertness and dexterity. And hardihood.
Still, you can see why it is a classic inhabitant of English gardens. It copes with most weather except prolonged drought; there’s never a problem with birds; and the fruit comes early, can be used at all stages from unripe green to pink and squishy, and freezes well. It can go into many delectable foods: pie, crumble, chutney, fool, jam, bottled in juice, jelly, wine, sauce for mackerel, cake, and plain stewed fruit. If you wait for them to be fully ripe you can even eat them raw (you might have to make a few faces while doing it). And I’ve just picked eight pounds of them for quite a modest outlay in blood.