I planted two gooseberry bushes in large pots in May.
They were thriving, with plenty of flowers and the promise of a rich harvest.
Alas, we went away for a week and in that time, they were destroyed — I am presuming by caterpillars, although I haven’t seen any.
My query is this: Can I eradicate them or do I need to dispose of those plants and start again next year?
And, as importantly, how can I prevent a recurrence of this?
You absolutely don’t need to dispose of them and start again.
When gooseberries are completely stripped of foliage like this, in particular, during May, it’s most likely the gooseberry sawfly.
The larvae of the sawfly are what feast on the foliage, often completely stripping a plant overnight.
The plant will survive the attack as they move on once they become adults.
The best control is to quite simply remove any larvae during April if you can see them on the plant.
Alternatively, there are biological controls you can use and a quick search online will unearth a few for you.
There are chemical solutions available but I would strongly urge you not to use these as,