Though our growing conditions can be challenging at times, a wide variety of fruit can be grown here with minimum amount of care. One of my favorite is Currant (Ribes species). I love growing them in my home garden, because they are not readily available in the supermarkets. They are full of anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins.
Currants can be used in pies, cakes and jellies. There are three different types of currants red, white and black. I grow Red Wilder Currants because it a good plant for the home gardener, it is vigorous and a heavy bearer.
Currants grow here very well because they are winter hardy from zones 3 to 5. They are a low growing deciduous shrub which can reach heights of three to six feet. They prefer fertile, well- drained, moist and cool soil. Keep the soil moist and cool by adding four inches of straw. They do well in partial to full sun.
The best time to plant currant plants are Sep-Oct and April-May and space six feet apart. At planting time they appreciate a generous amount of well rotted compost. Also mix in a good handful of bone meal. They also benefit from a good handful of bone meal in the springtime.
You generally can begin to harvest currants around the beginning of July for about a two week period. To ensure you reap the maximum amount of your bounty you must protect them from birds. Currants are not only tasty to you, but also the birds. I installed a hooped bird cage with black bird netting over the entire cage. It has proved to be very effective protecting my luscious currants.
A number of insects that may bother your currants are aphids, currant borer, currant worm and currant fruit fly. Each one creates a particular problem that should be addressed promptly. To deter over-wintering pest treat the bush when it is dormant with dormant oil spray.
Pruning is a big factor in maintaining a productive currant bush. Every fall you must prune back the four year old canes. Doing so will ensure your bush stays productive and healthy.
Contributed by Rich Young, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 636.8921 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.
Photo courtesy of Rich Young.