'Easy-peasy' currants

With a little bit of forward planning anyone could be picking fresh, vitamin-packed, flavoursome, fruit from their garden, which most importantly, are easy to grow. Look for plants with an AGM award, -these are plants that are chosen by a panel of experts trialling for the RHS which are considered to be the best. These plants have beaten their rivals to the finishing post!

Currants also provide bountiful crops, but redcurrants and blackcurrants vary in their preferences. Blackcurrants enjoy warm, damp conditions and most of the crops used in a well known cordial are grown in Herefordshire where rainfall is abundant. So if you have reasonable amounts of rainfall go for these. They are also more useful in the kitchen than redcurrants because they can be cooked or preserved. They flower early though and if these are caught by a frost it may reduce the crop, so site them on the top of a slope or in another frost-free place.

Pruning is simple. The new growth comes from the base so, once your bush is established, remove a third of the oldest wood from the base. This will look darker than the new wood. Good varieties include ‘Big Ben’ a bush with huge berries that are sweet enough to eat fresh, or 'Ben Sarek' another big-berried variety that flowers later. The latter is the best variety for colder gardens where frost often strikes in late-spring as it shows some in-bred frost resistance. It is also more compact than many varieties, so more suited to a smaller garden.

If you have a dry garden opt for a redcurrant bush because these thrive in drier, warmer gardens. The pruning regime is different. Prune as you would with gooseberries, by shortening the laterals (the side shoots) after picking. Then winter prune by removing the 3Ds (the dead, dying and diseased) and then thinning out the wood to create an airy shape. Finally reduce the length of the main uprights by one third. ‘Laxton’s No 1’ is a heavy cropper. They’re good to eat raw with peaches etc, good for garnishing and they make the greatest jelly of all - especially with lamb.