We planted our first redcurrant bushes soon after moving to the walled garden, so most of the bushes are about 14-15 years only. Until now, though, we”ve never had the satisfaction of harvesting any redcurrants.
Not because they haven’t fruited : they first bore fruit in their second summers, and by from four years old they’ve fruited heavily. The wild birds that frequent our garden can testify to that!
The frequently wild weather makes normal fruit cages impracticable, and anything that could be dismantled for winter would be too flimsy to cope with a summer gale, and anything substantial enough to survive a winter would not let through enough light.
This year the bushes were fruiting very heavily, and every time we approached the bushes, there was the rustle of leaves of birds scuttling for cover – into the darkest recesses of the bushes : if we got too close or investigated, a veritable United Nations of birds broke cover with a frantic flapping of wings and a good few squawks! It had been the same every year : No matter how frequently we checked the bushes, there was never any fully ripe fruit – but always plenty still yet to ripen! Each year, we vowed to find a solution … but there was always higher priorities.
But, this year, J had a plan!
We’d acquired a roll of the lightweight nylon mesh used for those rather tacky plastic-framed fruit cages promoted in gardening supplies brochures. I cut off a length and simply draped it over a bush. Despite the dire warnings in gardening books about not leaving even the smallest gaps, as birds would be sure to get in, there was no way we could pin the edges down to the ground and deliminate all gaps without wrecking the bush and the fruit along with it. So I simply draped as best we could, and packed up the tools for the day
Surprisingly, though, this rough-and-ready protection worked – in some degree, at least. Over the next few days we found that great trusses of berries were ripening fully without being snatched by birds. Only one problem, though : removing the mesh enough to pick the berries was a bit of a kerfaffle, and so we waited until there were enough fully ripe berries to justify picking all the berries, so not all we picked was fully ripe.
The seed-tray full of berries in the photo here are those from just that one bush we draped with mesh. And the Redcurrant Jelly D made from this fruit? No, not these three jars ; but another three as well – six jars in all. Mmmm!
Redcurrants – at last! Or, rather, Redcurrants for us – at last! And Redcurrant Jelly just for us, too : those greedy birds can make their own!