The Cottage Smallholder

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Propagating fruit bushes by mistake


Photo: Baby gooseberry and currant bushes

Photo: Baby gooseberry and currant bushes

Last year I used the prunings from my gooseberry and currant bushes as pea sticks for my overwintering crop of peas. Those six inch pea shoots were guzzled over a matter of just a few days by mice during the freezing winter weather. The mice had everything going for them as the wooden mouse traps froze too!

This spring when I pulled away the cloche half of the ‘pea sticks’ had rooted. I had no idea that fruit bushes germinate so easily. All I did was push them into the soil around the peas. The only problem is that I’m not sure whether the currants are white, red or black. Do I have baby red desert gooseberry bushes or are they just the regular green fruits?

These experts advise leaving fruit bush cuttings in the ground for a year. Their cuttings are just one stalk where as mine are bushy so it will be interesting to see what happens to them. Unfortunately my cuttings had to be moved to make way for carrots (I raised them in 40 cell modules in the cold frame with great success – the autumn sown ones failed to germinate). This meant that I could plant them into the ground at their final spacing – so as to avoid thinning. This seemed like a good idea until a slug found the carrot top restaurant – I now have a five inch gap in one row!

At the moment the fruit bush cuttings are all together in a pot – looking healthy and the currants are covered in flowers. This afternoon I’m going to plant the baby bushes in one of the fruit cages with a decent dash of bone meal and a little Rootgrow – Mycorrhizal Fungi as their roots are tiny. Kate UK introduced me to this last year and said that she had great results with it. It is expensive so I’m using it very sparingly when I’ve planted new perennials this spring. As yet it’s too early in the season to see the effects.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Su

    It must be really interesting taking over an allotment and seeing what the last person has left. I’d be delighted if it was currants and asparagus!

    Hi Joanna

    Would that be a blackcurrant grove?

    Hi Paula

    Yes I reckon that would be a good idea as mine have flowers (fruit this year) after just a few months in the soil.

    Hi Casalba

    It was a mistake but I’m delighted.

    Hello Cottagegardenfarmer

    Thanks for that great tip. They don’t smell as strong as blackcurrant leaves so they are either red or white currants. Hurray!

    Our giant elder tree died last winter but we have a few saplings dotted around the garden this year – hopefully they will flower this year.

    Hi Richard

    I bet your compost pile looked good surrounded by elder. BTW your blog is really interesting – I had no idea that carnations like eggshells. And there’s loads of great eco information too.

    Hi Tamar

    I love it when nature delivers its bounty without a request. Try this next autumn it’s fun.

  2. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    Fiona — You must be living right. Everything that grows accidentally at our house is distinctly undesirable. Here we are, working so hard to get berries, and then I read that your garden stakes are bursting into bloom!

  3. Richard @ Eco Living Advice

    I made a similar mistake with some elder some years ago. The elder bushes at the end of the garden where it is left rather “wild” were getting large and I wanted a new compost heap so I decided to cut the elder down to the ground and use it to create a “wattle” compost heap.

    By the following spring, the compost heap was alive and it actually looked really good with a “living wall” around it!

  4. Cottagegardenfarmer

    I’ve done this too, you can tell the blackcurrants from the rest by the strong smell of the leaves, but the red and white currants are indistinguishable until they fruit. I also did it with elder sticks, and had a veritable forest the next year!

  5. casalba

    I made the same “mistake” using hazel twigs as stakes.

  6. Paula

    This is good to know about. I was thinking of ordering another currant, but I think I’ll hold off and root something next fall!

  7. Joanna

    We bought a whole load of fruit bushes and were told to cut the blackcurrants off after planting in the ground so that they developed a bushy growth. I cut the trimmings up into four inch sticks and stuck them in some soil so I hope I have the same success as you have had. Mind you if I do that is 33 currant bushes to deal with 😀

  8. I accidentally propagated currant bushes when I had my allotment as I didn’t know that they would root so easily! A lovely elderly man had given me some of his offcuts to use as supports, and I gained a lot of currants. I replanted many of them, and I hope the new owner of that allotment likes currants!

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