First, a quick note about why I haven’t posted in a few weeks – the weather has been really up and down, as early spring often is in Ohio. We went from snow to eighties and back. Two weeks ago, I came down with a pretty wicked virus – right as the snow started falling again. Finally, I’m starting to feel better, and spring has definitely sprung, getting me in the gardening spirit again.
Yesterday, with a record high of 84, it was high time to get to the garden center. I had a very lucky find - a huge 3-gallon Consort blackcurrant bush. I’ve never seen a blackcurrant plant in a nursery in Ohio before, as some varieties are still banned due to suspition of carrying white pine blister rust - even though that’s been disproven. And it was the only/last plant at the nursery, so of course I snatched it up.
As soon as I got home, I realized that I was out of room in the back yard to add a new bush, without intruding on Janna’s plans for flowers. So I found an unloved spot in the front yard, dug a new bed, and transplanted the new bush, plus my two existing plants – Ben Sarek and Titania black currants, and gave them a new home in what should be an ideal setting. The Ben Sarek is still pathetically small, but it did do some growing last year. Not quite the stub it was this time last year. The Titania has done a bit better, but I doubt it will set fruit this year. The new Consort had some flower buds on it, so if I treated it gently enough, I should get a berry or two in June or July. Because blackcurrants love moisture and rich soil, I added half a bag of peat moss and two bags of compost to this small bed.
Currants grow very well in partial shade – which is great for me, and they work well as a foundation planting, as they need shelter. The space I had is about four by seven feet – not huge, but with my three bushes, I should have a healthy hedge in a few years. While the currants remain small, I added some ornamental hostas and sweet woodruff to pretty things up a bit. There were a few clumps of scraggly day lillies in that space already, so I split them up a bit and planted them as a border. I also transplanted the surviving strawberries from a raised bed that’s going to be home to our tomatoes later this summer. They might get pulled out in another year or so, but if they set any berries at all, I’ll be happy.
This is all to say, don’t limit your food garden to your back yard. Edibles are beautiful, and can be really interesting as a foundation planting. Plus, who can resist stepping out the front door and picking some fruit?