Other people’s allotments

This wonder-harvest didn’t come from 201, and I can’t pretend it did. This bumper crop of blackcurrants, raspberries and gooseberries comes from Eddie’s allotment. Eddie has had his allotment for over 25 years and every other year he invites somebody in to pick currants because his harvest is so massive that the jam his lovely wife makes from the fruit in the intervening year lasts for two years (two years worth of jam!) so he’s generous enough to hand over his produce to somebody else.

How does he do it? Well at the bottom of each of his fruit bushes is a wooden frame, like a raised bed about six inches tall, and each year, after picking, he fills that base with well-rotted manure. He gets the manure himself from stables and rots it down to be sure that it’s not too young and hot, which can damage fruit production.

He grew his fruit bushes himself, from cuttings taken from local bushes, so they are ideally suited to the environment in which they find themselves.

He has a good ecosystem going: there are birds that help themselves to fruit (yes, it’s un-netted) but they also remove insect predators. He’s visited by a fox who keeps down rodents and his bushes are generally allowed to ramble around where they please.

• Ideally blackcurrant cuttings should be taken in October in the north, right through to the end of November in the south. You choose some of the same year’s growth and you’re looking for a good, regularly shaped, well-formed shoot. The top end should be cut back to just above a bud and the bottom end to just below a bud – in other words, there should be a bud at each extremity at this point and the cutting should be between 25 and 35 centimetres long.
• So then you gently knock off all the buds except the top four. I know, sounds silly after all that effort, but trust me!
• Now you can either use the old school way: take a spade and made a V-shaped trench about 14-18 centimetres deep. Put in the cuttings and you should find that the top few cm, with the buds, are showing above the soil. Fill back in with soil, water, weed when necessary. Lift the following September and you’ll have fantastic rooted cuttings.
• The new school way is to pot them up – put them in solid soil mixed with some compost, not just potting medium, because they need something firm to give them ‘security’ to create roots and a potting compost will be too friable to give them that firmness. Lift in September and replant to their flowering site.
• When you put them in their new home, cut blackcurrants back hard so that they shoot well in the spring – you want to make them work for their keep by producing shoots, buds and fruit!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Blogger Joanna said...

I bought ten new cuttings of blackcurrants in Spring and was told to cut them back before planting which I did. I then cut each cutting into approximately 4 inches and stuck them in a pot of soil and placed them in a shady spot. All but four of the cuttings took and so I now have around 40 bushes of blackcurrants - well bushes is perhaps optimistic they are still small but growing well. Probably chose a good time of the year to do it for our area as they will have had all summer before being hit with the metre of snow we might have over the winter.

July 13, 2010 at 2:59 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Sounds very wise to me - one of the keys is to ensure that they are well heeled in to their permanent home and to ensure it isn't waterlogged as root rot can destroy young currants, particularly in winter. That's an excellent rate of return on your ten cuttings - forty bushes is going to be an excellent crop!

July 13, 2010 at 7:13 AM  
Anonymous allotments4you.com said...

All sounds good...i think I would probably go for the new way of potting them though as this means you can always use more of your land for produce at present. My fruit bushes aren't very big yet but I hope that in a few years I will be getting bumper crops too!!

July 15, 2010 at 7:32 AM  

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