Blackcurrants/Jostaberries

Preparation

A sheltered frost-free site in full sun is preferable, however they can tolerate light shade. Blackcurrants also like a slightly acidic soil but this is not crucial.

Planting

Plant at a distance of 4-6ft (1.2-2m) apart training left and right from the centre. Prepare a 2ft x 2ft (60cm x 60cm) area at each planting spot by digging a hole approx. twice the diameter of the root-ball or pot. Line the bottom of the hole with fresh compost or well-rotted manure. If using manure, also ensure it is well mixed in with the soil. Plant with the old soil mark (if visible) approx. 2in below the surface. Replace the soil by gently treading it back in and it is a good idea to apply a general purpose fertiliser mixed in with the soil at this time, ensuring the plants get the best possible start. Water in well. If planting between November and March, cut back all the shoots to within 2-3 buds (approx.5cm) of soil level after planting.

Pruning

This should be done between November & March but should not start until 2 years after planting. Remove any branches that may be diseased or weak. As the plant matures i.e. 3-4 years old remove approx. a third of the branches that have fruited to enable new shoots to grow. Do not retain any branches more than 4 years old.

Ongoing Care

Occasionally due to frost, some plants may have lifted during the winter. Check for this, and carefully tread down any that may have done so. Regular weeding is important. Hand weeding is recommended, however, if using a hoe, ensure you don’t go too deep to avoid damaging the roots which can lead to suckers being produced. Watering is vital during spells of dry weather. It may be necessary to cover the plants at night during flowering period (March/April) when frosts are forecast.

In April, apply a good layer of mulch around each bush. Blackcurrants also need a regular feeding
cycle, so as well as applying Growmore in March, they will need a liquid feed that is high in
potassium when the fruits are swelling. Bear in mind that it is a good idea to cover the bushes
when the fruit is beginning to ripe to keep birds at bay.

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