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Not as popular as strawberries or raspberries- but there’s a real case to be made to ensure currants have a regular place in your garden

Above: Blackcurrants often have a sharper taste then the red or white varieties

Hail to the red, white and black!

If you were to ask soft fruit growers what had produced the most consistent heavy croppers over the last five years, the answer would almost certainly be currants.

The red , white or black variety are not as widely grown as strawberries or raspberries but are immensely rewarding to grow because they hardly ever fail and given the ideal conditions of a frost free spring and rain in the summer ,will produce an abundance of fruit.

Below: Redcurrants produce glossy, round fruits in 'stigs' from early July to August

All the currant varieties are easy to grow; producing bunches of dark purple to black fruits, red or white berries in mid-summer. Blackcurrants have a tart flavour and provide an invaluable source of vitamin C. In the kitchen use them in pies and jams, to make cordials and even cassis. Currants are one of the best soft fruit varieties for freezing.

Always buy certified stock to avoid virus problems.

Currant bushes tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, but prefer well-drained, moisture- retentive conditions. They prefer full sun, but will tolerate light shade.

30 Country Gardener

You will see bushes for sale in two forms: bare- root stock (as the name suggested, the roots are exposed when you purchase these plants) or in containers. Bare-root plants should be planted from November to March and 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 generous amount of well-rotted manure. Add a balanced fertiliser (like Growmore) at the rate of 85g per sq m (3oz per sq yd).

Dig a hole at least twice the diameter of the root ball, and spread the roots out when planting. Set each plant at least 6cm (2.25in) deeper than it was previously. 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 crocks (small pieces of broken concrete, clay pots, or polystyrene) in the bottom of the containers to retain moisture. Use a good-quality compost (John Innes No 3 is ideal), or multi-purpose compost mixed with one-third by volume of grit.

Currants produce fruit on branches that are two and three years old. This means that a

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