Friday, December 12, 2014

Black currant Titania

I'm planning to add some new plants to the backyard this spring.  I already gave up one of my 12'x4'x12" veggie beds this fall, seriously amending the soil with ramial wood chippings,compost, worm castings (with worms!), and pine needles, and put in a couple blueberry bushes.  I'll be finishing the bed out with a couple more blueberry bushes this summer.

In addition, I'm looking to grow currants (black, red, and perhaps white), and maybe a gooseberry bush or two.  I'm half tempted to find a way to fit some black raspberries in somewhere as well - I grew them years ago and LOOOOVED them, but they died off.  Totally different flavor from the standard red raspberries.

Mary and I went to a gardening seminar a month or two ago, and with great coincidence there was a speaker lecturing on "Ribes, Medlars and Pears - Oh My!".  Ribes are the plant family that includes currants and gooseberries.  For some reason, a bunch of the attendees felt they could go off-topic, asking about blueberries, but since I will be attempting blueberries again this year, I didn't mind too much.

In addition to getting lots of good information about currants, and being tempted to try a gooseberry bush and maaaaybe a medlar tree, I got a bonus - a branch of Titania black currant.

I didn't get it planted right away, but I also figured I had a little while to get out and find some rooting hormone.  I cut the one stem in two, dusted the bottom end of each cutting, and stuck them in moist potting mix, then put a bag over each to maintain humidity.  Check it out...

Signs of bud swell on each!  The cutting from the bottom of the branch (the top of these two pics) only had one bud, and it's much bigger now than the multiple buds on the other cutting - perhaps just because multiple buds are more taxing than one?

I still plan on ordering a couple more currants - probably from Raintree Nursery (I've never ordered from them before, but they come with good recommendations, plus have 20% bonus plant offerings if you order before the end of the year!)  Considering how much I love currant jelly, I hope to be making my own within a few years.

As for gooseberries - my parents have a bush that's been long in the family, coming from mom's relatives (probably taken from cuttings), and it's been spread around to friends of my parents as well.  Heck, I suspect mom's given offshoots to her real estate clients.  Thing is - mom and dad make gooseberry pie with it, and I can't stand it.  WAY too tart for my liking.  Soooo....why should I try growing gooseberries?  It looks like the different varieties can vary greatly in taste, plus I suspect that mom and dad are picking while the berries are still very tart and unripe (to keep ahead of the birds?).  I'll give it a go, and if I get a productive gooseberry plant and then find I hate it, I can always give it to Mary...she'll take any plant!

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