Currants are the Edible Almost Everyone Can Grow!

By on February 17, 2012

Currants are an ideal edible: perennial, ornamental, and deer-resistant!

Add currant bushes to your garden for an easy, deer-resistant edible that also grows in part-shade.

If you live in USDA zones 3-8 currants are a must for your garden. In our video, Growing Currants, Tricia plants currants and gives tips on getting the best harvests.

Currants Bring New Flavors from Garden to Table

These attractive 3’-5’ bushes will be covered in summer with glistening red or black berries, heralded for their simultaneously sweet and tart flavors. Enjoy them fresh or preserve them in jellies, jams, and cordials.

Shade Gardeners Can Grow Currants

If you’re in a climate with hot summer sun, currants will grow best in part-shade or afternoon shade.

Live with Deer? You Can Still Grow Edibles

Good news! Although deer will browse their way through most plants we want to eat, they show little interest in currants. So if you have filled your garden with deer-resistant plants, now you can add some edibles to that group.

Rhubarb is another deer-resistant edible that grows well in sun or part-shade.

Artichokes are deer-resistant but need to be in the full sun section of your garden, where they will put on a dramatic show.

Train Currants as an Espalier of Branches Against a Fence

Vern Nelson in The Oregonian has directions to espalier currants to act as a screen or a decorative accent.

Lee Reich, author of Landscaping with Fruit, espaliers currants along the fences of his vegetable garden and writes appreciatively of their easy maintenance and “bright red fruit, which dangle from branches like translucent jewels.”

Grow Currants in Containers

The natural growth habit and height of currants makes them an excellent choice for container gardening.

To learn all about growing currants (and many other edible plants) in containers, we recommend The Bountiful Container.

Harvesting Currants

Cornell University suggests picking the currant flowers the first year the bush is growing, to promote plant vigor. You will have a small harvest the second year and by the third year your currant bush will produce a full harvest.

More from Cornell on picking the currants:

Currants…ripen over a two-week period in June. Berries do not drop immediately upon ripening, so they usually can be harvested in one or two pickings. Currants can be picked in clusters. ... Wait for fruit to turn color before picking. ... Currants require some trial and error to determine the right time.

Pruning Currant Bushes

We have succinct pruning instructions from Cornell (emphasis added):

Prune currants…when the plants are dormant in late winter or early spring. Remove any branches that lie along the ground as well as branches that are diseased or broken.

Ribes species produce fruit at the base of one year old wood. Fruiting is strongest on spurs of two and three year old wood.

After the first year of growth, remove all but six to eight of the most vigorous shoots.

At the end of the second growing season, leave the 4 or 5 best one-year-old shoots and up to 3 or 4 two-year-old canes.

At the end of the third year, prune so that approximately 3 or 4 canes of each age class should remain.

By the fourth year, the oldest set of canes should be removed and the new canes allowed to grow. This system of renewal ensures that the plants remain productive because young canes always replace those that are removed.

A strong, healthy, mature plant should have about eight bearing canes, with younger canes eventually replacing the oldest.

Peaceful Valley Currant Bushes are Disease Resistant

We only sell disease resistant currants. They are resistant to the White Pine Blister Rust that made currants a less popular plant in U.S. gardens.

For more information about currants read our Growing Guide, and articles from Iowa State University Extension, and Cornell University.

Eat your currants in front of the deer!

 

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