In our culture of instant gratification it can sometimes be difficult to do something in the garden now that won’t give you any reward till next year. Fruit bushes are a good example, you go out in November and plant a load of stubby sticks without even a leaf to reward you till spring. Fruit bushes are some of the best value plants to grow in the garden. One bush, properly pruned, gives you fruit year after year with the minimum of effort. They are a real summer treat. Bare root plants (Dormant plants taken from the ground supplied without soil) are much cheaper than plants and are only available in the winter so now’s the time to do it.
I’m going to cover planting blackcurrants but this will also apply to most other fruit bushes i.e. Red and white currants, gooseberries, raspberries etc….
Here’s what you do:
Blackcurrants are more tolerant than many fruits of their site and soil conditions. What they do like though is a moist soil, but not water logged. They need moisture for the fruits to develop. This is one reason why they do quite well in Ireland, especially in the West.
The best time to plant is in early winter so around mid Novemebr is good. In fact anytime up to mid March is fine as long as the ground isn’t water-logged or frozen. Most books will tell you to plant 6ft apart but as usual we don’t agree! In our opinion you’re better only giving them 2-3 ft because it stops the bush getting too woody. You will get a more concentrated bush which will fruit much better if you leave them a little cramped.
Dig a hole a couple of inches wider than the root of your plant. Planting depth for blackcurrants is worth getting right. The plants produce a large number of stems from just below ground level (unlike red and white currants) and these need to be encouraged. To do this plant the bushes roughly 5cm (2in) deeper than they were in the pot or at the nursery if bare-rooted. Fill around the roots with soil and firm it down with your foot.
When planted, trim every shoot to within two buds above soil level. This encourages a strong root system as well as sturdy growth above the ground. Your plants won’t need any attention for the rest of the winter. In spring and summer keep your currants happy by mulching around the plants to keep weeds down and watering when fruiting.