There is a common misconception that growing blackcurrant bushes are very difficult. However, that is not true, as they are actually very easy to grow. You can even grow them in the ground directly. If you do not have enough space in your garden or yard, you can grow them in your pots.
Blackcurrants are one of the best plants on earth and the fruits come out in abundance around the mid-summer. You can use this fruit in jams and pies, and it is highly beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing. They contain plenty of vitamin C and your entire body system will thank you for it.
If you handle the planting process of your blackcurrant very well, care for it, and prune it appropriately, you will be able to get about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of fruit. The fruits are highly preservative, as you can refrigerate them for later use.
You can also eat them frozen, fresh, cooked, or covert them to jam, jelly, and smoothies.
How to Harvest Blackcurrants Correctly?
On younger, new shoots, blackcurrant bushes produce many fruits. They will also fruit in abundance with minor pruning and less intervention within the first two to three years. If you buy blackcurrant bushes in the autumn and winter, chances are you bought it bare rooted. Mail-order nurseries usually deliver them bare root during this period of the year. In summer, they often come as potted plants.
Most of them are about one to two feet tall. Many gardeners recommend that you cut them to about two buds over the soil level, and this will help in the production of new shoots. However, they will also grow just fine when you leave them unpruned and plant them the way they are.
The pruning process is very easy and straightforward for the first couple of years (about two to three years). During this period, all you need to do is to prune out and take out diseased, damaged, low, and weak hanging branches. Your target should be to create a bush with about seven to eight strong branches.
Pruning Blackcurrants – The First Three Years
Blackcurrant bushes tend to produce fruits in abundance on the new growth. After about three years, mostly in the fourth year, you may start seeing smaller fruit crops on your blackcurrant bush. This is the stage where you need to get to work. At this stage, you need to give your blackcurrant bush its first proper pruning.
During late autumn and winter, you should take out about 40 percent of the older darker wood. You should take them to ground level, as they are less likely to yield more fruit. This process will provide more space for the formation of new shoots, which would be the major shoots that you ought to have. If there are any low hanging or weak branches, this is the best time to get rid of them. You need to remove them to prevent fruits from touching the ground.
After this first proper pruning in the 4th year, you need to repeat the process every year between late autumn and late winter. You should remove any diseased, dead, or damaged branch around the bush to give room for the new branches to flourish very well. Remember, you should only remove about one-third of those diseased, damaged, and dead branches. You should cut the branches back to good strong outward-facing buds.
What to do After Pruning Your Blackcurrants – Feeding and Mulching
After giving your blackcurrant bush the first adequate pruning it needs, the next thing you need to do is to feed it. If you want your blackcurrant to keep flourishing and growing fast, you need to feed it with a balanced fertiliser. There is an emphasis on ‘balance’ because it is very important. There are many fertilisers on the market, and not all of them are good for this plant.
We recommend you choose to go with a fertiliser such as Growmore.
You should spread the fertiliser around the base of the plant. You can check the labelling on the fertiliser to know the recommended quantity to use. After that, the next thing you should do is to mulch around the plant’s base. You should use well-rotted farm manure or great quality compost for mulching.
This process comes in handy when attempting to suppress weeds as well as retain moisture.
Tips for Growing Healthy Blackcurrants
- The key to the survival of any plant is proper hydration. You should water your blackcurrant in the growing season. You should also water it in the drier seasons to ensure it is always hydrated. When flowers and fruits are in their hydration phase, ensuring that they get adequate hydration is very important.
- Pruning your blackcurrant bush between late autumn and winter is also very important. Most plants lose their leaves during this period because they are usually dormant.
- There are different varieties of this fruit – modern and older varieties. An example of the modern variety is Ben Lomond, and they usually ripen together in bunches, which means you can cut them off in full bunches. The older varieties usually ripen separately. This means you have to pick the fruit individually as they get ripe. This makes modern varieties a lot easier to harvest than older varieties.
- The planting process of blackcurrants is a bit different from that of other plants. Unlike many other plants, blackcurrants need to be planted deeply into the soil. Planting them deep into the soil will encourage lower shoots. It will also help new shoots to grow strongly from the base of the plant when you remove diseased, dead, low, and weak branches.
- Also make sure that blackcurrant bush gets adequate sunlight when planted. They can also survive in damp soil but where possible, you should try opting for properly drained soil.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you eat blackcurrants raw?
Can I eat blackcurrants raw? Yes, you can eat blackcurrants raw. Blackcurrant comes from the family of Grossulariaceae, which are grown for their berries. This fruit grows best and produces food in abundance during winter. However, cold weather might reduce the size of the crop. People usually eat this fruit raw because it is super rich in vitamin C and polyphenols.
These fruits can be eaten raw but many people cook them in savoury and sweet dishes. They use this fruit to make jam, syrups, and preserves. Some manufacturers also use it to make dyes and alcoholic beverages. This fruit offers many health benefits, especially when you eat it raw.
Raw blackcurrant is 82 percent water, 15 percent carbs, 1 percent protein, and 0.4 percent fat. The raw fruit also has a very high content of vitamin C and moderate levels of manganese and iron.
How do you prepare blackcurrants to freeze?
It is highly recommended to freeze blackcurrants, especially before you try to de-stem them. Getting the juicy, small, and freshly harvested blackcurrant off the stems without squeezing them is a bit difficult. However, getting them off the stem becomes very easy when you freeze them. To prepare your blackcurrant for freeze, you can remove or leave the stem while picking the ripe fruit from the shrubs.
After picking them, you need to get rid of any debris, insects, or leaves by rinsing them properly under cool water. After rinsing them, you should spread them on a wide tray or bowl to dry. When they are dry, you can measure them into the quantity you want, and some people usually freeze their blackcurrants in two-cup portions.
Place them in the freezer bags after measuring. You should do all you can to reduce the air in the bag and keep it minimal. You can also use a vacuum sealer to suck out the air in the bag and lay it in your freezer.
How do you store blackcurrants after picking?
After carefully pruning and taking care of your blackcurrants to the final stages of harvesting, you need to figure out how you can store them. If you do not want to eat this fruit raw, you need to preserve it so that you can use it later.
There are two major ways of storing blackcurrants. The first notable blackcurrant storage method is cooking. Many people store their blackcurrants for long-term use by cooking them. Many applications of this fruit even require you to cook it first.
The second storage method of this fruit is freezing it. To freeze it, you have to remove any stalks, leaves, and pieces of twigs. Wash and store it into a freezer container with a shallow lid. They will still maintain their great taste. You can also store them by processing them into jam, jelly, and more. Blackcurrants have many uses.
Are blackcurrants a Superfood?
Blackcurrants are a tasty and nutritious superfood. These sweet, tiny, dark, and delightful berries contain a lot of nutrients and antioxidants. You can eat this fruit raw. However, due to the astringent, tart flavor, many people usually cook it with sweeteners such as stevia, honey, and sugar. This tasty berry is used to make desserts, juice, jellies, jams, and savory sauces.
Blackcurrants are a great source of vitamin C. This fruit is also at the 17th position on the list of the 100 richest foods for antioxidants and polyphenols. It also contains significant levels of potassium, iron, and manganese while contributing some vitamins B to the body as well.
This fruit helps the liver to function very well, helps you to exercise for longer, improves your concentration, keeps flu and cold at bay, helps you to see clearly in the dark, fights urinary tract infections, and more.
How do you know when to pick blackcurrants?
If you grow your own blackcurrants, you will be looking forward to harvesting your delicious and highly beneficial fruit. However, how do you know when it is time to harvest them? Many fruits are ready to be harvested in the summer and you can tell when they are ready to be picked by gently touching and squeezing them.
Nevertheless, you still need to be able to tell if the fruit is ripe before you can pick it. Blackcurrants usually have a deep color when they are ripe. They will also be around 8mm to 12mm in diameter. The best time to pick blackcurrants is when they are dry and ripe. The dryness of the fruit is another sign that it is ready to be picked. It is recommended you check the fruit regularly to know when it is ripe and harvest it at the right time.
Can I prune blackcurrants in the spring?
Yes, you can prune your blackcurrants in the spring. When growing this fruit, pruning is very important. Interestingly, it is also very simple to prune blackcurrants. The best time to prune this fruit is when they are dormant. Mid-winter to early February is a great time to prune your blackcurrant bushes in your garden.
The major reason for pruning a blackcurrant bush is to keep the plant within the available space. Pruning also encourages new growth. Getting rid of the dead, diseased, low, and weak branches create room for new ones to grow. It also helps the bush to produce more fruits while keeping the center of the bush somewhat open to allow for proper air circulation. It helps to avoid fungal diseases. Hence, you can prune your blackcurrants in the spring and you can also harvest them if they are ripe.
How do you prune blackcurrant bushes for winter?
Blackcurrants are very easy to grow and take care of. One-year-old shoots tend to produce more fruits. Two-year-olds are also productive but older wood is not productive, which is why you need to cut them off. Winter is the best time for pruning, but many gardeners often start before that time.
When pruning in winter, you need to remove some older wood and greyish stems. This helps to keep the center of the bush from being congested, which promotes adequate airflow and prevents diseases like powdery mildew from destroying the plant.
You should take out dead, diseased, and weak stems and leave about 10 to 12 of the best young steams for a healthy, good crop. You should use loppers or secateurs for older, thicker steams. Blackcurrants are very productive this season, and you need to prune them to create more room for the stronger stems to flourish.