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Currants and berries, autumn planting time in Ireland.

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:12 pm    Post subject: Currants and berries, autumn planting time in Ireland. Reply with quote

Currants and berries, autumn planting time in Ireland.
by GPI

One of the best times of the year for planting berry and currant bushes is during the slow growth months of October and November. You should definitely give this a go over the next while, as it's fast track to fruit growing for even the most modest of gardens.

Compared to their larger relations, the fruit trees, the lowly bush fruits are much more accommodating to gardeners of varying skill levels. In fact you could go as far as saying they are forgiving of the neglect that some hobby gardeners inadvertently heap upon them.

For instance, currants and berries are fairly tolerant of less-than-perfect planting locations, such as those which feature an element of shade. In an ideal world you would plant your fruit bushes on a sheltered south-facing slope to attain the healthiest growth and the heaviest crops, however, most fruit bushes will do quite well in partial shade. Gooseberries and blackberries (bramble) are the best of the lot to cope with shade, so select these hardy bucks for the darker section of your fruit area.

An example of the fruit of the bramble, these blackberries prefer full sun but will cope with less, photo / picture / image.

Soil type.
A slightly acidic to neutral soil type (pH of 5.5 to 7) is the ideal for growing most bush fruits, but even limey or alkaline soil will do, provided it is well drained. Well-drained soil is required as is moist soil. "Huh, both", I hear you say.
Well, it is possible to find this soil in most gardens as all you require is a soil area that is a bit of both. An unscientific way to seek this soil out is to look for ground that is neither sodden a day or two after a rain shower nor bone dry after a day or two of sunny weather.

If you haven't regularly found yourself saying, "God, that soil is so sticky and wet" or "God, that soil is so sandy and dry", then you are on to a winner, go ahead and plant away into that soil. This medium range type soil prevents fruit roots rotting in water but allows sufficient uptake of moisture to develop the fruits before harvest. The one sin the berry and currant bushes will not forgive is being planted into soil which is continually wet, this situation condemns you to poor crops and the bush to a slow death.

Shelter and warmth.
The more shelter you can afford your soft fruit plants the better. Sheltering plants from cold winds especially those of the salt laden kind will protect their buds and flowers, which fingers-crossed will become our fruit. Damaged buds equal's poor fruit.

Also, pollinating insects such as bees tend not to visit fruit bushes in windswept locations, causing flowers to remain unpollinated and a bush to remain fruitless. Black, red and white currants are the bushes that require the most shelter, not just for their buds, but also for their brittle wood, which tends to break rather than bend in a gale. In saying all of this, your soft fruit bushes also requires a certain amount of air movement to discourage fruit ills such as scabs and moulds, so don't pack the plants tightly together in a corner or anything like that.

The warmth that the fruiting plants require is, on the whole provided by the sun, if available. However, because currants and berries tend to bloom very early in spring, their flowers are often open to burning from late freezes.

You will find the most damage takes place in frost pockets; areas of ground lower than their surroundings. These receive cooler temperatures and frost often lingers long enough to damage the spring flower buds of the soft fruit. So, plant away from these areas to avoid trouble.

Now there are fruit growing purists out there who would scream cruelty upon seeing the cultivation rules that I have bent in this piece, but hey, whatever gets people growing more fruit, I'm all for. Growing these fruits outside of their comfort zone may result in slightly smaller crops but I'll take that any day over the shop bought fruits with their dubious provenance and unknown treatments, chemical or otherwise.

Still to come...... more on growing soft fruit in your garden.

Any queries or comments on Currants and berries, autumn planting time in Ireland, please post below.

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