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The jostaberry or ribes nidigrolaria may be a new name to many people, as it is a relatively new kind of berry. It is a cross between a black currant and a gooseberry, taking the best qualities of both and combining them into a sweet, tangy and flavorful berry that grows prolifically on a thornless, disease-resistant bush. Dr. Rudolph Bauer achieved the initial results after decades of work, but these high-yielding plants have only recently been introduced to the public.
Growing the jostaberry bush requires a light soil that has high organic levels. This bush is great for colder climates, and can survive in temperatures that dip as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius); however, if the temperature frequently falls much below that, a few test plants should be grown for the first year to see if they can thrive in such a cold environment. It can also withstand warm summer months, making it a fine choice for milder climates. The jostaberry bush can grow to be six feet (1.8 m) or even taller.
Although the plant is not widely available, it can be purchased from a well-stocked nursery, an online website, or catalog. When available, plants are typically sold in pots or bare-root. For those sold bare-root, they should be planted in the early spring months, while potted jostaberry bushes can be planted at any time. They should be planted 6 feet (1.8 m) apart in full to partial sunlight, depending on the climate of the area. In the winter months, they should receive a healthy dose of fertilizer, compost, and manure to help them survive the cold.
It is best to prune the jostaberry bush in the late winter by clipping out the broken branches. Since they are propagated by stem cuttings, gardeners can cut some canes to the ground to encourage new growth. Each bush can yield up to 12 pounds (5.4 kg) of berries every year. The berries are initially green in color and are in groups of three to five berries per cluster. By the time they are ready to be harvested, they are deep purple and packed with vitamin C.
Jostaberries can be eaten raw, processed, cooked, frozen, or juiced. Many people like to make jams and jelly, while others prefer to snack on the berries without any additives. Since the bushes produce such a large amount of fruit, most people do not have to stick with one use for the berries, but can try them all.