Lockdown Compensations - Red Currant Crumble!

July 12, 2020 11:18 PM
Originally published by Nick Hollinghurst - Working for Tring, for Britain and for You!
Red Currants

Red Currants

Well, we all like sweet, succulent fruit picked when ripe and eaten fresh, but soft fruits are not the easiest crops to look after.

You have to make a careful start and plan well ahead. It's unlikely you'll get a good crop from from bushes in their first year of planting. Once the plants have settled in though, you could expect a good tasty crop if the weather's been kind. You need enough sun and of course enough rain.

Then, if you've got a good crop developing, you have to defend it from the birds. They are up and about shortly after they've done their dawn chorus thing and that, in high summer means, 5 o'clock. If they spot a tasty meal in the morning they will return in force mid-afternoon and they can strip your bushes before you realise what's happening. Because of this, a cage (with the currants on the inside and the birds on the outside!) ls essential for the survival of your crop.

These days, however, kits of ready-made fruit cages in modular form are available at garden centres or on-line - but at a price. When I worked out that this would cost well over £60 for our modest patch of fruit bushes I set about salvaging some lengths of cheap netting from previous years. This was draped over a sort of home-

Red Currant Crumble

Red Currant Crumble!

made cage built from lengths of 2 by 1 left over from a project two years ago. A thing of beauty it was not, but it did the job.

The ground level defence was supplied on two sides by some stout chicken wire, which is in any case very necessary to keep the deer, muntjac and rabbits away from the vegetables.

Fingers crossed, but so far this year we've lost very little to the predations of the surrounding wildlife - though nothing keeps the dormice away. Let's hope they get enough beechmast and apples to distract them from our vegetable patch!

Of course if you're located in a town the risks are less. On an allotment the best defence against having your crops devoured by passing birds or mammals would appear to be the simple strategy of avoiding choosing a plot on the outside, and trying to get nearer the centre!

However, whether in your own garden if you have the space, or on an allotment or a half-plot if you have the opportunity and wish to grow your own food on a larger scale, it's well worth the effort! Not only does fresh home-grown food taste delicious, but it's an enjoyable hobby and provides lots of good healthy exercise. Go for it if you can!

Pix by Rosemarie