Red and White Currants

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Redcurrants Redcurrants

Redcurrants are rarely found in supermarkets, and so are well worth growing on the allotment. They are closely related to the blackcurrant, however they do not have the same growing habit, and are therefore cultivated differently.

They grow in a very similar way to gooseberries, and can therefore be treated more or less the same.

Growing Red and White Currants

Redcurrants prefer full sun, but will do well in partial shade. They will tolerate most types of soil, however whatever the condition of the soil mix in plenty of organic material or manure before planting (and top dress the soil around the plant with well-rotted manure every year in spring).

You should also avoid pockets and hollows that are subject to late frosts, as this will damage the flowering buds and stop the bush producing fruit. Birds will strip the tree of berries as they ripen given half a chance, so if you have the space it’s well worth considering planting them in a fruit cage. Redcurrants will grow to a spread and height of between 2-5ft, and each bush will produce between 6-12Kg of fruit.

Pot grown bushes can be planted at any time of year, however for best results plant them in November. Always buy your plants from a reputable nursery or mail order company to ensure a disease free plant.

To plant dig a hole wide enough for roots to spread out, and deep enough so that when the soil is replaced the old soil mark should be about two inches underground (so plant them deeper than they were previously grown). You should then immediately prune each shoot back to an outward facing bud – about the fourth bud above ground. The fruiting stems will then grow outward from here.

Pruning Currants

Bushes – 2nd Winter

Halve the length of each shoot, pruning above an outward facing bud to ensure an open habit.

Winter Pruning for established bushes

Cut back leading shoots by half, above an outward facing bud and lateral shoots to two buds each. Cut out any dead or diseased wood.

Summer Pruning – Established bushes

In July or August prune lateral shoots to two or three leaves.

Feeding and Mulching

Add a layer of well-rotted manure or compost in March. This will help keep the weeds down and keep the soil cool and moist.

You should also keep the area weed free, but be careful not to use the hoe too much, as redcurrants have shallow roots and you can really damage the roots, it is far better to weed by hand.

Propagating Currants

Take 10in cuttings from the new season wood in October, choosing stems that are pencil thick.  Make a sloping cut at the top (to ensure water runs off), and a straight cut at the bottom (which will allow the cutting to root better), and insert into a trench leaving 4 buds above ground, with the lowest bud two inches above the surface.

Phyl @ The Allotment Gardener

Lifelong gardener and allotment enthusiast. Now have 3 allotments!

More in this category: « Gooseberries Peaches »
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