Mad About Berries

Currants Companion Plants

One crucial aspect of cultivating healthy currants is understanding companion planting - a traditional method that involves growing certain plants together for mutual benefit.

This method takes advantage of the natural characteristics and relationships between plants to enhance growth, improve soil health, and control pests.

Published: June 15, 2023.

red currants 1

Currants are small, round, deciduous fruits that come in red, black, and white varieties. They are known for their rich, tart flavor and high nutritional content, being packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Currants belong to the Ribes genus, which includes about 150 known species of flowering plants native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They are relatively easy to grow and can thrive in a variety of climates and soil conditions.

Best Currant Companion Plants

  • Garlic: Garlic is a powerful deterrent to many pests that are attracted to currants, such as aphids and borers. It also helps improve the health of the soil.

garlic

  • Marigold: Marigolds deter nematodes and other soil-dwelling pests. Their bright flowers also attract pollinators that can help improve the yield of your currant bushes.
  • Chives: Like garlic, chives deter pests and disease, and their flowers also attract beneficial insects that can help with pollination.
  • Borage: This plant enhances the flavor of currants and deters tomato hornworms and cabbage worms, which can also pose threats to currant bushes.
  • Beans: Beans can fix nitrogen in the soil, improving its fertility and promoting healthier growth in currant bushes.
  • Comfrey: Known for its deep roots, comfrey draws up nutrients from deep in the soil, improving overall soil quality. Its leaves can be used as a mulch or a compost material that benefits currants.

comfrey

  • Rue: Rue repels a variety of pests and can be a beneficial neighbor to currants.

What Plants Currants Don't Like

While companion planting can be highly beneficial, there are also certain plants that currants are incompatible with or may negatively affect their growth. These include:

  • Potatoes: Currants and potatoes are both susceptible to similar diseases, such as blight. Growing them close together increases the risk of these diseases spreading.
  • Tomatoes: Like potatoes, tomatoes can also spread diseases to currants, and vice versa. They are also heavy feeders and can compete with currants for nutrients.

tomatoes

  • Peppers: Currants and peppers can attract similar pests, making it a good idea to keep them separated in the garden.
  • Eggplants: These belong to the same family as peppers and tomatoes and share similar disease and pest profiles.

How To Grow Currants

Currants are a fantastic addition to any garden due to their delicious fruit and attractive foliage. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a beginner, you'll find that growing currants is a rewarding experience. Here's a simple guide on how to cultivate currants successfully.

Currants Growing Conditions

  • Soil: Currants prefer well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. While they are adaptable to different soil types, they particularly thrive in loamy or sandy soils rich in organic matter.
  • Sun: Currants need a location that receives full sun to part shade. While they can tolerate some shade, full sun exposure promotes higher fruit yields.
  • Water: Maintain consistent moisture levels in the soil without overwatering. A deep watering once a week should suffice, but this might need to increase during periods of extreme heat or drought.
  • Temperature: Currants are hardy and can tolerate cold temperatures, with some varieties able to withstand winter lows down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they do best in moderate climates and might need extra care in areas with extremely hot summers.
  • Fertilizers: Use a balanced, slow-release organic fertilizer in early spring to promote growth and fruit production. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as excessive nitrogen can lead to lush foliage but poor fruit production.
  • Support: Unlike some fruiting plants, currants don't usually require staking or trellising. They grow as shrubs with multiple stems that provide adequate support.

black currant bush

Planting the Transplant

When you're ready to plant, dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball of your currant transplant. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring that it's at the same depth as it was in its pot. Backfill the hole with soil, pressing down gently to remove any air pockets.

After planting, water thoroughly. If you're planting multiple currants, space them about 4-5 feet apart to allow for growth and air circulation.

Taking Care Of Currants

Once your currants are planted, they'll need regular care to ensure they grow well. Here are some tips:

  • Pruning: Prune in early spring before new growth appears. Remove old and diseased wood, aiming to maintain 8 to 10 healthy, strong stems per bush.
  • Mulching: Apply a thick layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant. This helps retain moisture, suppress weeds, and add nutrients to the soil.
  • Pest and Disease Control: Keep an eye out for pests like aphids and diseases like powdery mildew. Use organic or chemical controls as necessary.

Harvest

Currants typically begin to bear fruit 2-3 years after planting. They usually ripen in mid to late summer, depending on the variety and climate.

Harvest currants when they are fully colored and slightly soft to the touch. Currants can be harvested by handpicking individual berries or by cutting whole trusses.


Few Final Words

currants mix

One crucial aspect of cultivating healthy currants is understanding companion planting - a traditional method that involves growing certain plants together for mutual benefit.

This method takes advantage of the natural characteristics and relationships between plants to enhance growth, improve soil health, and control pests.

Companion planting is a beneficial practice that can help boost your currant bushes' growth and yield.

However, understanding what plants work best alongside your currants - and which ones to avoid - is crucial.

While garlic, marigolds, chives, borage, beans, comfrey, and rue can make excellent companions, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are best kept separate. Always remember, proper planning and thoughtful consideration of these plant relationships can lead to a healthier, more bountiful garden.



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