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Both white, red and black currants (bot. Ribes rubrum or Ribes nigrum) have a very high nutrient requirement, as they have to constantly develop fresh shoots in order to develop numerous tasty berries. Healthy, high-yielding shrubs at best put on up to 50 centimeters of new growth a year, but this can only be achieved with optimal fertilization. Therefore, you should fertilize your currants properly from the moment they are planted.
High nutrient requirement
Although currants have a high nutrient requirement, this does not apply to all nutrients equally. A balanced fertilization supplies the plants with nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), which are the main nutrients. In addition, plants also need other nourishing elements and micronutrients such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, etc.
Classic NPK fertilizer contains 16% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus and 12% potassium, whereas ready-made berry fertilizers from specialist shops that are suitable for currants typically contain 9% nitrogen, 3% phosphorus and 10% potassium. The berry bushes need nitrogen and potassium above all for strong shoot growth, while the phosphorus content should be kept rather low.
tip: A potassium deficiency in currants is quickly revealed by brown leaf edges that are curled up. Fertilize affected shrubs with potash magnesia (patent potash) or gently work some wood ash into the root area. Coffee grounds and nettle manure also contain a lot of potassium as classic home remedies.
The right fertilizer
Even if it is easy to reach for berry fertilizer from the garden store, you should for various reasons organic means give preference to:
- effective over a longer period of time
- continuous and long-term supply of nutrients
- Activation of soil life by promoting microorganisms
- environmentally friendly
- insect and animal friendly
- harmful ingredients do not get into the groundwater
- sustainable and resource-saving
- Over-fertilization practically impossible
The most important difference is that while mineral fertilizers act quickly, they can also be washed out of the soil just as quickly - for example, because the plant cannot absorb the available nutrients all at once or it is raining heavily. Over-fertilization, which is just as damaging to the plant as an undersupply of nutrients, is also possible through incorrect dosing and has serious consequences for the entire environment. However, it is important for successful organic fertilization that you start long before budding.
tip: If you still prefer mineral fertilizers, it is best to send soil samples to an institute that specializes in this (e.g. at the investigation centers of the respective state agricultural chambers). With the evaluation, you will also receive fertilization recommendations that are perfectly tailored to your garden soil and the plants growing on it.
Dose berry fertilizer correctly
If you want to fertilize your currants organically, you don’t have to use compost or manure straight away. In addition to the classic fertilizers based on mineral ingredients, organic organic berry or universal fertilizers (pay attention to the composition!) are also available in specialist shops. To ensure that your Ribes bushes bloom luxuriantly and produce numerous fruits, you should dose them as follows when using such a product:
- Before planting: mix 80 - 160 grams per square meter into the excavation
- Spring fertilization: apply 90 - 140 grams per plant annually in March
- Second annual fertilization: At the end of April/beginning of May, fertilize another 50 to 80 grams per plant
In late autumn, just before hibernation, you should also apply a layer of mulch about five centimeters thick. This text explains which materials are particularly suitable for this in a section further down. However, in low pH locations, be sure to add algae lime to the mulch to increase it. Currants do best at a pH of 7.
Note: Currants are very sensitive to the substance chloride (Cl), which is often added to mineral or finished fertilizers. Therefore, make sure you buy a chloride-free product when you buy it.
Due to the high nutrient requirements, you need currants several times a year fertilize, whereby certain times are to be observed. The fertilizers must be applied early so that they can develop their effect. You should stick to the specified schedule, which also applies to all other types of fertilizer. It is important that from the time the fruit begins to form, neither natural nor organic substances are administered, as this has a negative impact on the harvest volume and the taste of the berries. Plants that are over-fertilized in this way sprout more, so that they neglect fruit formation.
Natural fertilizers such as compost, stable manure (especially horse manure) and horn shavings or flour, as well as tried and tested household remedies such as home-made manure plants are perfect for ensuring an adequate supply of the right nutrients. However, when using these funds, the following information is important:
- no specific information on the ingredients in compost and manure possible
- Ingredients vary greatly depending on the composition of e.g. the compost heap
- therefore hardly any concrete dosage information possible
- Rule of thumb: four liters of compost or manure per square meter
- smaller/younger shrubs less, older/larger ones more
- nitrogen-based agents (horn meal, horn shavings) unsuitable as sole fertilizer
The nutrient supply with natural fertilizers works best if you combine different means with each other. Garden compost and rotting manure, for example, find an ideal supplement in nitrogen-rich horn or bone meal (and other horn products). Plant manure also provides the currants with all the necessary nutrients over the growing season, but should also be supplemented with basic fertilizer (compost/manure).
With plant liquid manure, currants can be well cared for throughout the summer, especially since these agents are also effective as classic home remedies to strengthen plants against fungi and other pathogens. Nettles are particularly good:
- Roughly chop one kilogram of fresh nettle leaves and stalks
- Pour into a large tub or bucket
- do not use a metal container
- fill up with ten liters of water
- add two handfuls of bedrock meal
- stir vigorously
- cover carefully
- place in a dark, warm place
- Leave to ferment for two to four weeks
- stir daily
As soon as the mixture stops foaming, the nettle manure is ready. Now dilute it in a ratio of 1:10 with fresh water and water the currant bushes with it. Apply the remedy directly to the soil and never over the leaves.Fertilize currants with nettle manure
horn meal or horn shavings
It is best to administer horn shavings or meal together with garden compost or stable manure when first fertilizing in spring or when mulching in autumn. This agent takes a long time to decompose - so the nutrients it contains are only released late.
Well matured garden compost is the ideal fertilizer not only for Ribes. Fertilize the currants twice a year with about two to five liters of compost per square meter of planting area, whereby the amount used depends on the size of the bush.
If, on the other hand, you decide to fertilize with stable manure, you should give preference to dried horse or chicken manure. The dosage is the same as for garden compost.
tip: In principle, dried coffee grounds can also be used to fertilize the currants, but firstly they are not suitable as the sole fertilizer and secondly they cause acidification of the soil. Accordingly, you should mix coffee grounds with algae lime to keep the pH constant.
Don't forget to mulch
Since currants develop a shallow root system that runs just below the ground, you should regularly apply a layer of mulch about two inches thick in late autumn. This keeps the soil moist as it reduces evaporation. In addition, mulching suppresses the development of weeds, which in turn would compete with the currant bushes for nutrients and water. Furthermore, rotting mulch provides additional nutrients and fresh topsoil.
The following are particularly suitable as mulch materials:
- straw chaff
- coarse compost
- Foliage (except walnut or oak foliage)
- dried lawn or grass clippings
Bark mulch, on the other hand, is unsuitable, as it removes nitrogen from the soil and often causes acidification. If you still want to use bark mulch, fertilize with horn shavings/horn meal and algae lime before spreading.