It is important to
plant in clean ground, for it will be difficult
to clear afterwards without harming the roots.
Two-year bushes are the best to plant and as the
cuttings root easily, they are inexpensive. To
give worthwhile pickings, two or three plants
each of three varieties should be grown –
an early, mid-season and late to spread the crop
so there will be fruit from early July until October.
Healthy plants should bear well for twenty years
Plant at any time between November and March when
the soil is clear of frost and is not waterlogged.
Plant the more vigorous kinds, e.g. Wellington
XXX 150-180cm (4-5ft) apart. For the smaller garden,
plant Laxton’s Giant and Amos Black for
succession. These will also usually miss the frosts.
They require deeper planting than other soft fruits.
Insert the roots about 12-15cm (5-6in) below the
surface, spread them out, add the bone meal and
cover with soil, treading in the plant.
Before the end of March, cut back all shoots to
about 7cm (3in) of the base. This will encourage
the plants to form, during the first year, more
basal shoots upon which the crop is borne the
next season. For the next two or three years,
no pruning is necessary. Then prune to keep the
plants free of too much old wood, for all of it
will bear fruit; hence the weight of fruit increases
Blackcurrants produce their new growth from base
buds. To increase the stock, young shoots (one-year-old)
are removed in October when the leaves have fallen
and the crop has been gathered. Both young and
old plants will benefit from a mulch of peat,
garden compost or strawy manure given each year
in April. This will suppress weeds and maintain
moisture in the soil. Until the plants are about
four years old, grow strawberries in rows between
them to make full use of the ground.
Do not pick the fruits until they have turned
black as only then will they be sweet and juicy.
To pick, hold the bunches by the string (stalks)
and carefully pull away the fruits with the other
hand, taking care not to squash or bruise them.