Blackcurrants can be grown in either containers or in the soil in your polytunnel. While they can survive and thrive outside in much of the UK, growing currants such as these in a polytunnel can help to protect them from the vicissitudes of the UK weather. Blackcurrants are delicious in a range of puddings and preserves and can be eaten or drunk in a number of different ways – the good news is, they are also easy to grow.
Blackcurrants are usually purchased either as a bare root or container plant. Bare root blackcurrants are the more affordable option and are available during the dormant season. Even one blackcurrant bush can give a good yield. One mature bush can provide up to around 4.5kg of currants.
When choosing a location for your blackcurrant bush, be sure to choose a location, whether that is within your polytunnel or not, where it will be in full sun, as bushes will not fruit as well in the shade. Whether in the beds in your polytunnel or in containers, blackcurrants should be in a well-drained but moisture retentive soil/ growing medium. If you will grow your blackcurrant bush in a container then it is best to choose one at least 45cm in diameter.
When planting your blackcurrants, whether pot grown or bare root, to their final growing positions, you should dig your hole and spread out the roots. Unlike for many other plants, blackcurrants should be placed deeper in the ground than they were in their previous pot/ location. The recommendation is generally to plant them 5-6cm deeper than they were before. Firm the soil well around the plant and water in well, adding a thick mulch of good quality compost in the spring.
Bare root blackcurrants are best cut back sharply after planting as this will encourage strong new shoots to pop up from beneath the soil. Organic, nitrogen-rich liquid feed may help blackcurrants when applied in the spring – a nettle liquid feed is ideal. By summer, new shoots will have appeared and you may have fruit as little as one year from planting.
Blackcurrants will ripen some time between June and August. Newer varieties will ripen one strig, or bunch of fruit, at a time, while older varieties will require harvesting over a longer period as the berries will ripen at different times and will have to be picked individually. Blackcurrants are a healthy fruit and can be used in a wide range of recipes while fresh, or preserved in jams etc. or frozen for later use.