If you can never get enough of the pink dream red currant meringue cake or love (real, homemade) red fruit jelly, want to make your own cassis or have harvest-hungry children, you need currants in your garden. No problem, the currant bushes are among our most unproblematic fruit trees, and here you can find out everything about caring for and cutting currants.

Red and black currant – planting and care

Red and black currants taste very different, but are so closely related in botanical terms that the care (apart from the subtleties of the cut) can be described for both varieties together:

  • Currants should be planted in a sunny location, in a soil rich in humus and as evenly moistened as possible.
  • If you experience late frosts often, the location should be a little sheltered.
  • You can ensure even soil moisture if you cover the root area of ​​the currants with a layer of bark mulch, which then also protects the frost-sensitive roots in cold winters.
  • If all the sun locations have already been taken, you could place the currants in the light shade, but the berries will then not be quite as sweet.
  • If you plant the currant bushes, you should plant them deep enough in the soil that about five centimeters of soil are above the top edge of the root ball, so frost cannot damage and new ground shoots are encouraged.
  • The distance between the bushes should be 1.5 to 2 meters for red currants, and even 2.5 meters for black currants.
  • The more distance, the easier it will be for you to maintain the cut later.
  • The best time to plant the currant bushes is early autumn or early spring, currants always sprout very early.
  • Once planted, currants are actually one of the most robust and easy-to-grow berry bushes.
  • However, they have one “quirk”: currants are only too happy to shed some of their flowers, which can result in a considerable loss of harvest.
  • This can happen after a strong late frost, but also when it is too dry, you should definitely ensure that the currants are adequately watered.
  • Or too low temperatures during flowering are to blame for the fact that not all flowers have been pollinated, which can also lead to so-called trickling.
  • The risk of trickling is reduced if you plant several varieties of currants quite close together.
  • Currants actually fertilize themselves, but if you place several currants of different varieties next to each other, even more flowers are sure to be pollinated.

If you treat your currants to a little compost, nettle manure or other organic fertilizer in spring and autumn, and if possible a mulch cover all year round, the berry bushes will certainly thrive without problems and magnificently, they can get very old.

Idea for mini-gardens: In well-stocked nurseries you will also find currants as half-stem or high-stem, which take up particularly little space in small gardens.

The cut of the currants

Regarding pruning, red and black currants should be treated differently:

1. Red currants

Red (and white, see below) currants produce most of the fruits on two-year or three-year-old main shoots or on the side shoots that emerge from them. When these main shoots go into the fourth year, the yield decreases, and noticeably.

In order to have as many main shoots as possible on the bush at the optimal age, it is best to prune red and white currants immediately after harvest. In the past, it was usually recommended that the spring pruning was not in the leaf condition. This is not the case today, in the middle of the season the plants simply have much better abilities to close their wounds. The spring pruning has the advantage that you can see the growth of the shrub better, but with a regularly cared for currant you will see enough even in summer.

Every shoot that has just finished its third season is now removed, as close to the ground as possible. Currant shoots should always be completely cut away, no short stumps should be left here. This means that you should use real pruning shears or even a small pruning saw for the pruning, garden shears will usually prove to be too weak here. The main shoots usually start near the ground and are now also cut away there, making space for new, long young shoots that grow back from the lower area of ​​the currants.

The cut after the harvest is also a clearing cut, which is responsible for a good exposure of the fruit sets in the next season. Therefore, only a few strong shoots that emerge in the right places remain on the bush, two or three, the replacement for the main shoots that have just been cut away.

All other new ground shoots are removed, preferably by tearing them out, which is why this fruit cut is also called “summer tearing” among fruit growers. By tearing out the so-called water shoots, you can ensure that several new shoots do not sprout from this point, as would be the case if you cut off the young shoots.

Currants develop a large number of young shoots that come directly from the rootstock, red and white currants produce up to 30 or 40 annual young rods in a year. When you decide which of these young shoots can stay on the bush, you determine the harvest in two years, so you choose strong, upright shoots distributed over the bush at regular intervals. In total, only four to five of these young rods are allowed to remain on the bush.

If you follow this recommendation every year, you will always have a currant bush with eight to twelve strong, straight main shoots that will bear the maximum amount of fruit in “their year”.

If the side shoots of a main shoot have borne for the first year, they are also cut back after the harvest; you should leave a cone of around one centimeter here. New fruit shoots arise from these cones, which secure the harvest for the next year.

However, you should always thin out very dense growing new fruit shoots, each fruit shoot should be at least 10 cm away from the next. The fewer fruit shoots in the upper area, the more eagerly the currant bush forms new ground shoots, which are constantly needed for the rejuvenation of the crown.

In addition to this cut aimed at maximum yield, with the summer cut, the currants also receive the cut care aimed at disease prevention and healthy growth:

When the old main shoots and superfluous young water shoots are removed, the side shoots of the younger main shoots are thinned out. With these main shoots preserved, you can remove all side shoots up to a height of about 30 to 40 cm. These side shoots close to the ground already suffer from a lack of light, which one would see and “taste” on the berries.

Furthermore, all rival shoots growing close to the main shoots that only take unnecessary light are removed, and of course all shoots that show signs of weakness or malformations.

2. Cut black currants

Black currants should generally be pruned differently than red and white ones because they bear most of the fruit on their annual side shoots. So here it is important to always let as many young side shoots start into the season as possible.

For this purpose, the main shoots are vigorously trimmed after the harvest so that they form new side shoots again in the next year, you can completely cut off the main shoot above the second or third long side shoot.

As with the red and white currants, however, the oldest main shoots must be regularly removed completely so that the shrub rejuvenates from the base. You could always cut away the main shoot where the harvest is slowly waning and be careful to select successor shoots from the shrub base, which will now be raised.

Here, too, when you cut, remove all weak shoots and everything that grows so crookedly that it obstructs neighboring shoots or prevents light from falling.

Harvesting the currants

The name of the currant gives us the decisive indication of the harvest time: It is derived from St. John’s Day, June 24th, a so-called “Lost Day” for our ancestors, on which long-term weather forecasts were made and which was the most favorable time for various agricultural and horticultural projects Activities.

So the first varieties of currants ripen around St. John’s Day, but they are not the only ones that have John (of John the Baptist, it’s his birthday): St. to shine, carob nuts (green walnuts for pickling or for nut liqueur) must have been harvested by now, rhubarb and asparagus are also pricked the last day. So from the end of June you can start to search the currant bushes for ripe panicles.

But please with an unerring eye: Currants are non-climacteric, i.e. non-ripening fruits, which initially simply means that they have to be harvested when they are fully ripe. This means that you don’t have to harvest half-ripe so that you can then consume the fruits of your currant plantation throughout the winter … All currants should be nice and red, a tad too ripe for jam and jelly, just really good for cakes, etc. full red.

A little harvesting tip: Side shoots that have just passed their last fruiting year have to be removed again and again from currants. Instead of cutting off the side shoots that have just been harvested, you can combine the fruit pruning with an unusually convenient currant harvest – you simply cut off the entire shoot with fully ripe fruit. So you don’t have to think long about which shoot should go, and you can comfortably wipe off the fissured currant panicles while sitting.

If there are really too many currants to eat, bake or process immediately, you have to work quickly. Currants will only keep for a long time if you effectively reduce their metabolism, and this is done by rapid cooling. Then you can store fresh currants for some time at a low and constant temperature, loosely packed in a sealable plastic bag. In the grocery store, currants are stored fresh for up to 6 months (under ideal conditions).

You can of course also freeze the currants, but that is quite laborious because it will only give satisfactory results if you strip the berries from the panicles, pre-freeze them one by one and then put them in freezer bags and freeze them.

The best varieties of garden currants

We know currants with red, white and black fruits, which are all quite small and quite numerous on a panicle and have little resemblance to gooseberries, not even in taste. Our currants are actually gooseberries – the genus of currants, botanically known as Ribes, is the only genus that exists in the gooseberry family or Grossulariaceae.

This genus includes red currants (Ribes rubrum), white currants (also Ribes rubrum) and black currants (Ribes nigrum), as well as gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa).

But these are only a few of about 150 species of Ribes that have spread from the temperate climatic regions of the northern hemisphere to the Andes, to China and, in a few species, to South America.

The currant bushes we plant in the gardens are the result of horticultural breeding; these cultivated gooseberries are mostly derived from the species Ribes uva-crispa (gooseberry), Ribes petraeum (rock currant) and Ribes hirtellum (American gooseberry or wedge-leaf gooseberry).

1. Red currants – recommended varieties

There are two varieties of red currants: The wild red currant (Ribes rubrum var. Rubrum), which only develops small berries, this overgrown form of the garden currant has glossy leaves on the top and multiplies with creeping shoots.

The red currant (Ribes rubrum var. Domesticum) is the cultivated cultivar, but it also occasionally grows wild. There are several types of red currant:

  • “Jola”: dark red berries with an aromatic but mild taste.
  • “Jonkheer van Tets”: A currant with a noticeably sour fruit aroma, ripens early and brings good yields, a recommended classic among the currant varieties.
  • “Rovada”: A somewhat younger variety that does not ripen until July, it bears particularly long grapes with fairly large berries, a balanced ratio of acidity and fructose.
  • “Rosalinn”: The children’s currant, because it is quite poor in acid.
  • “White Versailles”: An old and valued variety of the very mild white currants that have only little fruit acid.
  • “Primus”: A newer variety of white currants that has long grapes and hardly tends to trickle.

2. Recommended varieties of black currant

The black currant has been cultivated in gardens since the 16th century, and there are now some cultivars:

  • “Bona”: Black currant with a very good taste, which can be harvested early, develops large berries.
  • “ECM”: Exceptionally large berries, but only very short grapes, resistant to powdery mildew.
  • “Ometa”: Black currant with fairly long grapes and a good taste.
  • “Silvergieters Black”: Strong growing currant with large, sweet berries, unfortunately susceptible to powdery mildew.
  • “Titania”: predominant variety, also strong growth, but mildew resistant.
  • “Tsema”: Strikingly long grapes, susceptible to powdery mildew.

Currants for the garden – other interesting species and varieties

As I said, there are around 150 species of Ribes, and that still gives gardeners some leeway; most of the species thrive in our climate.

These include other cultivars with enjoyment value, e.g. B. Josta berries, a cross between black currant, gooseberry and Oregon gooseberry, other currants are only planted in the garden as an ornament. For example the absolutely unproblematic and emission-proof alpine currant (Ribes alpinum) or the golden currant (Ribes aureum), which is often used as a refining base for currant high stems, but which also flowers beautifully golden yellow and smells aromatic of clover.

Apart from these better-known currants, there is still a lot to discover: sticky currants and wax currants, squaw currants and desert currants, skunk currants and tassel currants, glacier currants and spiked currants, which do not all promise rich fruit enjoyment, but for this z. B. sky blue to dark blue, matt berries that look really great … Tienshan currants with exceptionally light red berries, umbellate currants with deep yellow, fragrant flowers and scarlet fruits, granite currants with beautiful white lanterns are also a real ornament for the garden -Blossoms and fuchsia currants with long red flowers.

The gooseberries, which also belong to the Ribes genus, naturally enjoy fruit in your garden, also in unusual varieties such as Hunds gooseberries with prickly berries first in green and then in purple, Oregon gooseberries, which come with a fruit all in red, or delicate-flowered gooseberries who, however, defend themselves with thorns on the trunk.

Currants are basically really easy to care for, only pruning requires a little attention. In return, you can then harvest all the more of the delicious soft fruit, and if you turn to the other species of the genus Ribes, there is also a lot to discover with the currants.

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