Blackcurrants are versatile and very easy to grow. Just 3 or 4 bushes will provide a wealth of berries for jams, pies, juices etc plus some left over for freezing and winter enjoyment. Blackcurrants are the most forgiving of the fruit bushes you can plant and generally do well in less than ideal conditions. They are also very hardy [grown commercially in poland] and, with the advent of newer Scottish raised 'Ben' prefix varieties, very frost tolerant. Reliable crops of lustrous aromatic berries are now available to all. Personally I love too the distinctive blackcurrant aroma that is emitted from the bushes, even in winter, making harvesting and pruning a real pleasure!
Plant your blackcurrants about 5' apart for the best results.
General cultivation notes
Buy young plants from a nursery that is inspected regularly by the Minister of Agriculture to ensure bushes supplied are disease free. All soils are satisfactory, an open sunny position is most suitable but they will produce a creditable crop on a partially shaded site. Avoid digging around the bushes, control weeds by mulching will also provide a heavier crop. Space 5 feet apart, and plant slightly deeper in the soil than they were in the nursery, approximately 6 inches. Economic use of space can be made by planting 4 feet apart with rows 6ft apart enabling a double row of strawberries to be planted in between. All shoots should then be cut back within 1 to 2 inches of soil level. This stops fruit being developed in the first year, concentrating all growth into established new branches to fruit in the second year.
PRUNING. Hard pruning is not usually necessary for the first three years, after this time if the bush has become large and over crowded cut approximately one third of the old wood (black in colour) to encourage new young growth. The bigger the bush and the more young one year old light wood, the heavier the expected crop.
FEEDING. A general fertilizer may be used, 3 or 4oz per square yard, but most beneficial is to feed each Spring (February) with Nitrogen, preferably Sulphate of Ammonia.
The blackcurrant hedge
With the introduction of the compact Blackcurrant Ben Sarek, one can plant at closer density [3.5'] and allow the bushes to grow into one another to form an informal hedge. When in full fruit it is quite a site and will allow for good quantities of fruit.
Recommended newer varieties with frost resistance
These are the best varieties for general culture.
Worthwhile heritage varieties
These have wonderful flavour and a dash of old fashioned virtue.
Varieties with extra large fruits
Ideal for exibition or greedy people
Big Bud Resistant