Blackcurrants take up a lot of room but are worth growing, as they are extremely high in vitamin C.
All the varieties are self-fertile, so only one plant need be grown.
Recommended varieties: - Ben More and Ben Lomand
Soil Conditions and Siting
Blackcurrants are gross feeders so need a deep, fertile and well-drained soil. It is well worth while taking time to prepare the soil properly prior to planting. The pH of the soil should be maintained at 6.5. The site should be sheltered and sunny. They will tolerate slight shading but the amount of fruit produced will be less.
Supports and Training
Blackcurrants are always grown as free-standing bushes so no support or training is needed.
Plant bare rooted stock in autumn or early winter. They are often sold in containers and these can be planted out at any time of the year. Allow 5ft (1.8m) between plants and 6ft (2m) between the rows.
Blackcurrants grow as stooled bushes, which means that they send up new shoots from below ground level. When planting, set the plant 2" (5cm) lower in the ground than it was when grown in the nursery or pot. This helps in the forming of new shoots. Cut back all the shoots to ground level after planting.
Blackcurrants have a high Nitrogen requirement. To satisfy this need feed with 2 handfuls of Fish, Blood and Bone or Growmore in the spring and mulch with well-rotted manure or compost. If growth seems poor give a further feed in early summer.
Blackcurrants produce fruit on wood made the previous year so in the first year, little or no pruning will be needed, except to cut out any damaged branches. In the second and subsequent years cut the fruited wood back to ground level to encourage further strong growth. This is done in late summer after fruiting. As the bushes get older you may find that fewer shoots are produced from below ground level. If this happens, prune out old wood as low as possible just above a young shoot. It is best to work on a three-year cycle, in the third year cutting out the first year's wood, in the fourth year cut out the second year's growth etc. This keeps then keeps the bush with a set of branches that will fruit and a set that will fruit the following year.
Pick the fruits when they are ripe. They are usually picked as clumps and the berries removed from the stalks with a fork. Some people prefer to cut out the whole branch for convenience, this also prunes the bush at the same time. Blackcurrants do not store so should be eaten straight away or preserved by freezing or bottling.
Pests and Diseases
Aphids, Birds, Mildew, Botrytis, Virus diseases, Sawfly, Big Bud Mite, Leaf Spot and Reversion disease are common problems. (See pests and diseases section for prevention's and cures. This is accessed via the Main Index Page)
14 December, 2003
© copyright 1999, P. A. Owen