Allotment blackcurrants

This is the time of year when birds peck the tender flowering buds of currants. Nobody seems to be entirely sure why they do this: some say it’s the moisture content of the buds they are going for and others say it’s an astringency in much the same way as dogs and cats tend to eat grass in spring. What I do know is that it can be annoying and even stop there being any harvest at all, come summer!

So we net or cover our currants now, and keep the birds off. But before we net them, we weed underneath and then mulch them.

Mulching is important for fruit, as it keeps in the moisture that allows berries to swell. It also keeps down weeds and can feed the soil under hungry plants. This year, with the hosepipe ban, and the current temperatures, it’s vital to young bushes like ours, or they won’t get off to a good start.

We mulched with grass clippings from the lawn, and if the weather continues hot, after a couple of weeks I will lift them, water underneath, replace them and then put a circle of cardboard over the top to hold down any transpiration of water. If it starts to rain buckets, I won’t bother with the cardboard.

Over our baby plants for spring we’ve put old mesh baskets. By summer they will be tall enough to need nets, but we find these baskets in skips and they are brilliant for protecting plants from birds when the plants are still small.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, March 26, 2012

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