In summer, it is very pleasant to eat the small fruits called currants with their recognizable slightly acid taste. In jam, jelly or in a clafoutis, redcurrant is mainly used in the preparation of desserts. The redcurrant bush, which produces the namesake fruit, can be incorporated in the garden in different forms. Regardless of whether it is used in hedges or as a fruit shrub, it will be necessary to provide it with a minimum of maintenance.

Native to Europe and Asia, the redcurrant belongs to the Grossulariaceae family . This shrub’s small berries are very popular, especially in desserts.

Characteristics of the redcurrant bush

The redcurrant is a fruit shrub of which there are multiple species. Among the most common is the ‘Ribes rubrum’ redcurrant which comes in several varieties. These include, among others, the Long-Bunched Holland, the London Market, the Ponoma, the Red Cross, the Versaillaise and Moore’s Ruby, just to cite a few.  It is a shrub of medium size, about  5 feet (1.5 m) tall, with a fragrant and pronounced deciduous foliage. Its fruits have low nutrient content, since 3.5 oz (100 g) of fruit only contain 35 kcal. On the other hand, they are rich in vitamins A, B and C, and have an 8% fibre content. In spite of that, know that not all redcurrant species are grown for their fruit. Only redcurrant (‘Ribes rubrum’), gooseberry (‘Ribes uva-crispa’) and blackcurrant (‘Ribes nigrum’) can be included in this category. The flowering currant is an example of a species that is only grown as an ornamental shrub. It can reach a height of  8 feet (2.5 m). Moreover, the currant, with its various species, has several aspects. Thus, it can be thorny or not. In a garden, it is not uncommon to find currants forming a hedge on which one can pick fruit. But regardless of whether it is a fruit shrub or ornamental bush, currant requires a minimum of care.

Planting and maintenance of the redcurrant

The redcurrant is a shrub that grows on fresh ground that has a low limestone content and is rich in humus. Its need for sunlight is moderate and, if located in a hot region, it is best to avoid planting it in an area strongly exposed to direct sunlight. It is also necessary to plant it at a good depth, with added supplies of dehydrated manure or compost, as well as fertilizers with a high potassium content. Once it reaches 3 years of age, the older branches can be cut off, so as to keep only 8-9 stems per plant. During the growing season, carry out thinning being careful not to cut the fruiting branches. Regular maintenance is also required. Thus, hoeing around the seedlings or setting up a layer of mulch are recommended. Every spring, add organic fertilizer with low nitrogen content, while in winter it is necessary to remove the old branches and cut the main branches to two thirds of their size. All species of currant are able to withstand extreme cold, and need regular watering especially in dry areas. Moreover, be careful and monitor possible pest attacks. Thus, various diseases may affect the redcurrant, including powdery mildew, rust and the damages resulting from aphid attacks. Mealybugs can be treated with organic products that will keep the fruits edible, as it should be remembered that currants are especially valued for their fruit.

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Published in Red fruit by Alexander on 07 Sep 2011