Is it just me or am I the only one who finds the scent of blackcurrant foliage irresistible?
It’s an unusual smell and probably not to everyone’s liking but I just adore it. Now that my blackcurrant bush is bursting into life with fresh zesty leaf bud, I’m finding the urge to smell it difficult to resist. In fact, I spend so much time inhaling the lovely blackcurrant aroma that I’m sure a leaf bud will disappear up one of my nostrils very soon.
Last summer I purchased my very first blackcurrant bush, a variety called Big Ben. As the name suggests the berries are huge! Big Ben is a good blackcurrant for eating fresh from the bush and it’s resistant to powdery mildew and leaf spot. It was fruiting at the time of purchase, producing lots of strigs but I wasn’t entirely sure where it was going to be planted so I decided to leave the bush in the pot for the remainder of summer, keeping it well watered during dry spells.
Eventually I planted it out in late autumn, roughly 2 inches deeper than it was in the pot to encourage the bush to send up lots of fresh shoots for the following year. Once planted I cut all growth back to a few inches above soil level, it felt a bit harsh but this should encourage a stronger root system, sturdy new growth and bumper crops. Apart from an annual mulch I can leave the blackcurrant to get on with it for the next 2 years, then prune to encourage new growth by removing 1 in 3 old stems to ground level, removing damaged or crossing stems and light trimming to keep the centre fairly open during winter while it’s dormant.
There is just about enough time to prune your older bushes if you have not done so already. Enjoy those juicy berries this summer!