Tasty Blackcurrants are juicy black orbs full of vitamin C and great for making jams and pies and my favourite, Cassis. I am so excited to be growing it in the Snapshot and Snippets Organic garden. Here is my guide to help you Grow your own Blackcurrants to help you if you want to try growing your own.
Blackcurrants are probably the easiest of all the soft fruits to please. Any soil is suitable, they can tolerate heavier and more poorly drained sites than other fruit bushes, and even a little shade. Generous hearty soil, plenty of sun and a good feeding make all the difference. But a blackcurrant bush will also shrug off less promising conditions and still give you some lovely berries. They even can be grown in pots so you can have one even if your garden space is limited.
Diseases became a problem some years ago and in many older stocks disease was an issue. So make sure you buy healthy stocks from reputable growers to get the best start.
Grow your Own Blackcurrants
When and how to Plant Blackcurrant
- January through to March is a good time to get bushes like Blackcurrant established as they are dormant.
- Although bare-root plants should be planted from late autumn; containerised plants can be planted at any time of year, as long as the soil is not too wet.
- A few weeks before planting, clear the soil of all perennial weeds and add a generous amount of well-rotted manure
- Dig a hole at least twice the diameter of the root ball, and spread the roots out when planting. Plant it deeper than it has been as deep planting encourages young, vigorous shoots to develop from the base. Mix the soil from the hole with well-rotted organic manure and backfill the hole. Firm it in well before watering.
- If growing in a container, choose one that is 45-50cm (18-20in) in diameter. When planting, place some mall pieces of broken concrete, clay pots, or polystyrene in the bottom of the containers to retain moisture. Use a good-quality organic compost or multi-purpose compost mixed with one-third by volume of grit.
Looking after your Blackcurrants
- Water blackcurrants during dry periods in the growing season.
- Hand weed and mulch around the plant in late winter using well-rotted manure to suppress weeds.
- Avoid hoeing near the base of the bush because the hoe might cut through new shoots developing at the base of the plant.
- Re-pot container-grown blackcurrants every two or three years. Pot back into the same container or one slightly larger. Trim back some of the roots and tease away the old soil replacing it with fresh Compost.
Pruning your Blackcurrants
Prune blackcurrants when dormant – from late autumn to late winter. Bushes fruit on the young wood, mainly from one- or two-year-old stems, and it is important to bear this in mind when pruning.
Up to and including the fourth year after planting, remove weak, wispy shoots, retaining a basic structure of six to 10 healthy shoots. After year four, cut out about one-third of the older wood at the base, using a pair of loppers or a pruning saw. This will encourage and make room for younger, healthy wood. Also, remove weak shoots and low ones leaning towards the ground.
Pests and diseases
Here is a rundown of the problems you are most likely to encounter with your blackcurrants
Greenfly and Aphid
Are the most commonly troublesome critters, causing soft new growth to curl and become distorted, sometimes it also become streaked with yellow. These insects overwinter on the bush so the first step to eradication is to provide a winter wash of a mild soap solution all over the bush whilst it is dormant.
This is a fairly commonplace problem with blackcurrants and is more troublesome with the older varieties but not exclusively so. The leaves become silvery and powdery and it can spoil the fruits too. Sometimes this fungal disease is encouraged by a lack of pruning as too much congested or soft growth encourages it.
Is a more serious disease as there isn’t really a cure. It is characterised by the buds beginning to swell in the spring but they never develop beyond that point and remain inflated, the reason being they are infested with numerous tiny mites that invaded the buds very early in the season, moving from infected buds to healthy ones.
Treatment is generally advised by picking off infected buds and destroying them, thus limiting the spread of the mites. It is quite easy in the winter to determine the damaged buds from the healthy ones, but it is a very laborious task especially if you have more than one or two bushes.
Begins life as small brown spots on the leaves which gradually become larger and coalesce. Leaves fall prematurely and the resultant crop is usually affected. Extra feeding is usually effective to help the bushes regain vigour that has been lost. Can also infect red and whitecurrants.
Varieties of Blackcurrants to try
Ebony has been specially selected for garden planting. Take one look and it’s easy to see why: the size of the fruit is amazing – up to twice the size of other blackcurrants.
Long strings of the sweetest currants, with a great cassis fragrance. Harvest late July.
A compact blackcurrant with excellent resistance to downy mildew. The bushy and well-branched plants produce a huge crop of large very sweet berries. Harvest June-July.
An unusual Blackcurrant hybrid raised from a cross between a Blackcurrant and a Gooseberry. It resembles more closely a Blackcurrant but the leaves are smaller and shinier and the fruit, individually produced, are larger and sweeter. The bush has a faint blackcurrant odour but it is not as strong. This increasingly popular hybrid berry should be treated and grown just as you would a Blackcurrant bush. I have one arriving from Quickcrop any day now and I can’t wait to show you it’s progress through the year.
Get your Quick Grow Blackcurrant guide – a handy guide to help you with your Blackcurrants you can get your copy here
We are growing our Blackcurrant in a large pot mainly in case I have to move it. I can’t wait to pick my first Blackcurrants and make some tasty blackcurrant Jam.
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