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branch that forms in year one will not produce fruit. During year two and three it will produce fruit, and then in year four, the amount of fruit production will drop drastically. This means that you need to leave a branch on the plant for three years and then prune it off.


Red and white currants should be trained as an open centred, goblet-shaped bush - this allows light and air to flow freely around the branches, and makes picking easier.


After planting, pull off any suckers growing from beneath ground level and cut back to the stem any branches less than 10cm above the soil – this will give the bush a short leg.


Prune all other branches to a third of their original length, cutting to an outward facing bud.


In subsequent years, allow branches to grow in the main framework until your bush fills its allotted space. Then, prune back the upright growing leading shoots to half their length, cutting to an upright bud.


Problems with currants


Birds: Birds are one of the biggest problems for all soft fruit and it seems, especially currants. Birds love eating the ripening fruit, and will often decimate whole bushes over a matter of days. The answer is to grow fruit under nets; it is the only sure way of preventing birds eating fruit. Erect taut netting over bushes as soon as the berries begin to show some colour. You can net individual bushes, or if you grow a few bushes you could make or buy a fruit cage to go over them.


Blackcurrant gall midge: Tiny, white maggots feed on the shoot tips of blackcurrants and prevent leaves from reaching their full size. The affected leaves dry up and die. Shoot tips


Red, white or black?


White currants are only a colour mutation of red currants, and the individual currants are smaller, but they have a very particular appeal, because they are so uncommon and, with their translucent quality bring a touch of class to the table.


The advantage of red and white currants over black is that they have thinner skins and are usually sweet enough to be eaten raw in a fruit salad, with just a little sugar added.


Here’s some to try: Red


'Jonkheer van Tets' - heavy crops of large red currants in early July ,and produced perhaps the largest currants of all the varieties


'Junifer' - masses of red currants and very popular with first time currant growers ass it is a trouble free variety.


The perfect soft fruit for container growing Currants are the best option of all the soft fruit available to grow in limited spaces. They take up little space and the containers can stay outside all winter. A mature currant bush should produce between six and ten pounds of fruit so you won’t need too many plants –another great advantage of growing them in containers.


Some varieties of are self-fertile, while others need a different variety of currant (that blooms at the same time) nearby to cross- pollinate with. Read the plant tag or catalogue description carefully to determine if the currant you are considering needs a cross-pollinator. If it does, grow the plants side-by-side, or even better, in the same pot.


Harvest currants when the entire string of berries in a particular cluster has turned the colour of the particular variety you have black, red, or white/translucent. They will keep for one to two days in the kitchen, a week in the fridge, or many months if they are properly frozen or dried.


can also die back. In minor cases you can pick off the infested leaves (you will be able to see the white maggots with the naked eye). The blackcurrants ‘Ben Connan’ and ‘Ben Sarek’ are resistant to blackcurrant gall midge.


Big bud mite: These mites infest the buds of blackcurrant bushes.


The affected buds of lightly infested plants can be picked off during the winter and disposed of away from blackcurrant plants. Dispose of heavily infested plants after the fruit has been picked and replant in autumn with new stock. Buy certified stock plants, as these will have been inspected on the nursery and certified as being free of big bud mite. One mite- resistant cultivar, ‘Ben Hope’, is available.


White 'White Versailles' - large, sweet, yellowish fruit in early July


'Blanka' is the heaviest cropper and has the largest currants among the whites, but also worth growing are 'White Grape' and 'Versailles Blanche' which matures earlier, in July.


Black


Ben Lomond’ AGM: An upright blackcurrant with some frost resistance because of its late flowering. Produces heavy yields of large, short-stalked berries, which are ready to harvest in late summer


Ben Connan’ AGM: is a culinary cultivar with large fruit of excellent flavour on medium long strigs. It produces heavy crops early in the season and has a compact This compact plant is suitable for a small garden. It has resistance to mildew, frost, and gall midge. The berries are large with good flavour.


Country Gardener 31


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