Home My garden Growing blackcurrants for beginners: experiment pays off

Growing blackcurrants for beginners: experiment pays off

Jewel-like blackcurrants
Jewel-like blackcurrants

Blog: No effort or skill needed for a fruitful crop!

When you’re a new gardener, growing soft fruit bushes may seem a little daunting, especially when anyone mentions the dreaded ‘p’ word (pruning, that is).

In 2011, I decided to start a long-term experiment in my front garden. It’s unused, as it’s tiny – a few metres square.

It’s on the main road, unlike the side and back, which is totally private and surrounded by the hedge.

Also, the previous owner covered it in a six-inch layer of large angular gravel, a nightmare to plant through.

The hose won’t reach

There are various ornamental plants in there but it has to fend for itself when it comes to water, as the hose won’t reach.

I wanted to make it more productive, so bought three Ben More blackcurrant bushes (you can read more about growing blackcurrants here).

Just to make it clear, you have to get the plants established, well watered and fed in the first 2 years or they will die or not bear fruit!

However, once established, they’ve proved very resistant to weather extremes – the deep ‘mulch’ of gravel helps retain moisture.

Just cut out the bad bits!

I don’t prune them, apart from cutting off any dead, diseased or crossing (where two rub together and disease can get into wounds in the bark) branches.

After the first year (2012), I had a modest crop, which has become bigger every year, this year filling a big roasting tin!

They freeze very well if you can’t use them straight away – I use them in conserves, cakes and, ahem, vodka. For the recipes, see here.

This is the good side of the experiment – whatever you do, don’t try to grow raspberries in your front garden. I’m still trying to get rid of them, they are completely invasive!

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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