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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.
CURRANTS BRING NEW FLAVORS FROM YOUR GARDEN TO YOUR TABLE
These attractive 3’-‘5’ bushes will be covered in summer with glistening red 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.
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.
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.
ALL PEACEFUL VALLEY CURRANT BUSHES ARE DISEASE RESISTANT
fay eldred Says:
Feb 20th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
greetings; it seems to me, that Maine still has the prohibition about growing currants. i do love them, but am also surrounded by 6 huge white pines. do you know if it is legal to plant them here in Brunswick, ME ? also, how do you know that your plants are not carriers?
Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Feb 23rd, 2012 at 10:25 am
Fay, Maine bans all black currants, but allows red currants in part of the state.
Here is the link that shows which counties and towns ban red currants as well. I did not see Brunswick listed as a banning town, but it may be in a county that has a ban.
The red currants we carry are varieties that have been shown to be resistant to White Pine Blister Rust.
If you are allowed to plant currants, you might want to plant them 1000’ away from your white pines, just as a precaution.
I hope this information is helpful!
Mary Hysong Says:
Mar 19th, 2012 at 6:40 am
I’m wondering how they would do here in the desert foothills? Do they tolerate alkaline soil? It’s hard to get my pH below 8 even with heavy amendments.
Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Mar 19th, 2012 at 6:47 pm
Mary, The ideal pH for currants is 6.5, and they want moist soil. You could control the pH and the moisture if you grew them in Smart Pots. Have you tried containers before?