redcurrantsIt’s the time of year to harvest red currants around here and this week’s question comes from Frew T. Bunn of Oldham:

‘Our red currant bushes always lose their leaf colour in July or August, but the ribs of the leaves always stay green – are they suffering from some sort of disease?’

By the summer months red currant bushes are starting to lose their lustre, but the fact that the leaf ribs of yours remain green suggests a shortage of Magnesium, one of the ‘trace elements’ of importance to plant health. Commercial ‘Epsom Salts’ applied in the spring at around 65 grammes per square metre should improve matters, so try this next year.

My blackcurrants look like they'll give a good crop again this year

My blackcurrants look like they’ll give a good crop again this year

On the subject of currants, my black currants are dripping off the three bushes I have here in Old School Garden, and the family of blackbirds nesting in the courtyard is relieving us of some – literally pecking them through the netting of my too – small fruit cage!

Have you ever thought of growing white currants?

They are apparently not difficult to grow and seem to have returned to favour in recent years. Like red currants (and black currants) they fruit on old wood. ‘White Versailles’ is a popular and reliable early variety, the first white currant to crop. It produces a heavy crop of large, shiny, soft pale yellow/white berries in long heavy trusses during mid-late summer. The fruit is deliciously sweet, not as acidic as red currant, so is great for eating fresh or using for a wide range of culinary purposes. White Versailles has a vigorous, upright bushy growth habit with attractive arching canes and serrated three lobed pale green leaves. It is a very reliable cropper year after year, is self fertile so you only have to grow one bush if you want to – eventual height and spread: 1.5m (5ft).

I’m thinking that I might reorganise my bush fruit cage and substitute one of the three blackcurrant bushes with a white currant, just to get a bit more variety and perhaps less of a storage problem, with the glut of black currants we’ve had in the last couple of years!

'White Versailles' - I thinki I'll try to get hold of one of these to replace one of the blackcurrant bushes

‘White Versailles’

Old School Gardener

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