Sunday, 8 September 2013

Rescuing Blackcurrant Canes....

In the local Poundshop earlier in the summer, they were selling some small blackcurrant plants at 2 for £1, half the usual price because they were bare-root stock and it was already late May, well past the time when they should have been planted.  They were in a sorry state - all had some sort of new forced growth although it was very pale in colour due to the absence of light where they'd been stored.   They were labelled as Ribes Negrum, so they're a true blackcurrant, and the variety is 'Ojebyn' which seems to be a popular European variety from an internet search.

Anyway, we bought ten of them for £5, got them home and unwrapped the roots which at least were still moist from the polythene wrappings.   We stood them in a bowl of water and then pruned them back to just above where we could see new buds.  On one or two, the new pale growth was only an inch or two long, so we left these on thinking that they were short enough to fully recover.

after pruning, soaking in a bowl of water

We left them in the bowl of water for around six hours, during which time we decided on a location for planting and prepared the ground.  We then planted them out that same evening, about 900 mm (3') apart.

one of the rootstocks planted out in the garden

How did they do ?    Well, only three of them have flourished, so it turns out that buying these distressed plants at a knock-down price wasn't a particularly good investment, although to be fair we would have been pushed to buy three established blackcurrant plants for less than a fiver at our local garden centre.   Earlier in the year of course, we could have bought five dormant plants for £1 each at the Poundshop if we'd seen them at that time !

one of the blackcurrants - several canes on the plant
up to 600 mm high - this one's surrounded by beetroots
and pumpkins although these'll all be harvested this year

To add insult to injury, I repeated the rescue process a month later and bought three half-price redcurrant and two gooseberry canes from the same source, and in a similar condition.  Of these five plants, only one of the redcurrrants appears to have survived although it's making good progress.

the surviving redcurrant in a 6" pot.... 

However, I'll leave them all in the ground until next spring, in the vain hope that at least a few of the apparently dead plants may yet come back to life....

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