Prune blackcurrant bushes to encourage lots more fresh, young growth next year and bumper crops to match.
Blackcurrants are among the easiest of fruit to grow, laden with gleaming blackberries to turn into mouthwatering goodies from cheesecakes and ice creams to home-made blackcurrant cordial. They fruit best on two-year-old wood, so to keep your bushes productive start to prune them from their third year.
Use sharp, clean secateurs or loppers and cut out the oldest branches, as close to the ground as possible. While you’re at it, take out any growth which is spindly or weak, as this is unlikely to fruit well. You should aim to leave about seven sturdy, healthy stems, evenly spaced around the crown with plenty of room for air to circulate. Finish off with a generous mulch of garden compost or soil improver.
Now is also the time to buy new blackcurrant bushes if you’re looking to increase your stock or start a new blackcurrant patch. There are lots of new varieties coming onto the market these days, including dwarf cultivars compact enough to grow in containers, and varieties with particularly large, juicy berries. Pop into the garden centre here in Poynings and ask us to help choose the right variety for you.
Once you have your blackcurrant home, find it a nice sunny spot – they will tolerate some shade but the more sunshine you can give blackcurrants, the better they fruit. Prepare the ground well, removing weeds and digging in plenty of organic matter. Sprinkle a handful of slow-release fertiliser on the spot to boost the soil still further.
Plant your blackcurrant a little deeper than it was in its pot, to encourage young and vigorous shoots from the base. Backfill with soil, firm gently and water well: you’ll be rewarded with basketfuls of juicy berries for many years to come.