Currant Events

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This week has already brought us stunning views across the Strait to Mt. Baker and more rain to boot. Those dark clouds directly above our town held great moisture the garden is loving.

Between rain showers, we’ve accomplished some major pruning, an excellent and necessary January task. Half of Coppertop’s six red currant bushes, Ribes rubrum, are now sporting new looks, and I’ll complete the other three in this next week. I’ve made tasty currant jelly from their gallons of fruit for two summers, yet these bushes could be even more productive and healthy with proper pruning. These were over seven feet tall when we began and were spreading way too far in all directions, impeding nearby plants and people. Below shows a duo of currant bushes before and after, although I grabbed my camera midway through.

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When leafed out and in the early stage of currant production, these shrubs were huge.

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To keep the bushes producing fruit well, we removed about a third of the oldest branches or canes at ground level. as well as canes that met any of the “Five Ds” of pruning —  dead, diseased, damaged, duplicate, and directionally challenged limbs. Next, all upright shoots and canes were trimmed by about a third. The younger canes have a pretty purple sheen, while oldest are silvery and covered in lichen.

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Below is another before and after of a particularly large currant bush we’ve had to tie up to contain. The lopped canes were burned on the fire since we don’t own a shredder and the branches don’t compost well.IMG_7304.jpgIMG_7310.jpg

Resting after our efforts, I made tea in the kitchen and finally snapped a photo of a Red-breasted Nuthatch through the window. These little acrobats are usually too quick for me. While I sipped tea I envisioned summer 2016’s luscious currant harvests. Perhaps the nuthatch paused to dream of the currants too.

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5 thoughts on “Currant Events

  1. March, your pictures and descriptions are very helpful. Although I don’t have any berry bushes, I do have some butterfly bushes, which I propagated in 2014 and successfully planted last year. In the course of the summer, they grew lustily, in all directions, and I want to give the three that appear firmly rooted a better shape and the idea (in case they need prompting) that they should grow upwards rather than trail close to the ground. I think your pruning experience will help me make the right decisions, once I start clipping, which won’t be until February. However, if you, or anyone else, has advice about butterfly bush pruning, I’d be most grateful to hear it.

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    • I always enjoy hearing from you, Sabine. My experience with buddleia came during our years in Virginia, and I do get what you mean by “grew lustily”! I felt like we couldn’t hurt or impede those bushes. even with severe pruning back to about 12″. Yes, lop off those branches that want to drag on the ground. Lop off plenty! Buddleia bloom on new growth. Be brave. 😉

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    • This is our first time growing redcurrants and I highly recommend doing so, if your climate allows. They are beautiful, hardy, and productive! Straining out the minuscule seeds to make jelly takes patience, but is worth the effort. Another of our favorite uses for the berries is to freeze them in ice cubes and float them in cocktails.Thanks for stopping by!

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