Gooseberry and currants problem.

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WeavingGryphon

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Gooseberry and currants problem.
« on: July 24, 2020, 10:15 »
Hello,

These are not my plants, they are in a public garden but I have been responsible for them for a few months but not in a supported way. I've been left to get on with keeping them alive but not given money for plant food or told the limits of my remit or what is normally done. I took over after the point of feeding for the summer so don't know if it is okay to feed them. I imagine it is, but when I ask for confirmation I'm not getting replies. I don't want to get into bother for doing things that I shouldn't; it's a public garden and you don't want people coming in looking for fruit and finding funny covered tiny spheres for the kids to play with (NPK) or their fingers smell funny (chicken manure) because they are playing in the soil. Also they should be saying what they use and paying for it.

The garden has raspberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, black, white and red currants. The raspberries are thriving, the black currants are fruiting poorly, the rhubarb stalks are like straws- not even knee high, need divided and are harvested before the stalks are a hands length (medium ladies) long. I fed them NPK and manure because they were doing so poorly and they are harvested heavily and continuously.

Every other bush is basically fruitless. These are big well established plants with lots of leaves, looking more or less healthy. Every branch is bare of fruit and there were no flowers to be seen earlier this year. What fruit there is, is at the bottom (gooseberries) or on one or 3 branches (white/red currants), so entire branches will have small amounts of fruit and others of the same age (colour) are completely bare, rather than each branch the same age having a small amount on them like a neglected plant we inherited.

Two of the redcurrant branches with fruit have gooseberry dieback. I've been cutting these back and I'm going to cut them off later today, leaving two bushes which come to the size of a small car (bigger than an old mini) with one fruiting branch between them. Last year there was no fruit on the redcurrant and lots on the whitecurrants, but this year there is almost nothing on any of them. The whitecurrants are doing better but awful in comparison to last year.

You couldn't get a jar of jam off any of them. In comparison mine are 2 or 3 years old and have heaps of fruit, in poor soil and one branch of any of mine older than this year has more fruit on it than these entire plants, or pair of plants in the case of the red currants. So what is wrong with them? 

I know I'm making a big deal about the feeding because they weren't fed this year. I don't know about last, I think they got old hanging basket soil put on them but I don't know and can't get answers. We inherited plants in poor soil and they are fruiting better than these, the fruits are small but they are there in abundance. We had a lot of wind but the site is sheltered by tall hedges.

The person who cared for them was of the attitude that as long as they were weeded and the raspberry canes were cut back that was all that was needed, which is why a great number of the trees in the orchard area is dying of canker. I was told that the blackcurrants were pruned 3 years ago and I pruned the rest of them this winter after being told go ahead then a sign was put up saying not to touch them "Garden club will prune".  Ha; I joined the garden club and went with the correct theory that if they didn't bother with doing anything the past few years, they wouldn't bother this year I was correct on that assessment. I didn't take out all the old growth, just the oldest 4/5 branches because they fruit on older growth. The idea is to prune out branches over the next 3 years. Yes, they are that big and have been left unpruned for that long. There has been lots of growth of new branches but I don't think that is the only factor.

I think the person who "cared" for them died so I'm still in charge for the foreseeable future.

What is wrong? Is it a combination of factors? More importantly; what do I do about it?

Currently I think I need to get someone to open up the shed and crack out the feed and continue with pruning out the dieback. This winter prune old growth, the tips and thin some of the new growth.

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Goosegirl

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Re: Gooseberry and currants problem.
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2020, 11:58 »
You could always use a liquid feed with added sea weed extract to give them a boost then there's no worries about kiddies rooting about in the soil. Is the growth in the centre as well because that can lead to lack of air getting through. I'm no expert on pruning fruit bushes but think it's done in Spring, so perhaps you can better see what branches/shoots to leave and those to cut out. The older branches on blackcurrants tend to be a more grey colour so cut those right down to leave the younger branches.
Spring always comes when we sow the seeds of life.

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jezza

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Re: Gooseberry and currants problem.
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2020, 20:00 »
Hello if your using chicken manure that could be the lack of fruit problem to much nitrogen try a liquid feed of low N  a   bit of P and plenty of K eg 7,11 27  also black currants need pruning different ti white and red  ones   jezza

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WeavingGryphon

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Re: Gooseberry and currants problem.
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2020, 23:42 »
You could always use a liquid feed with added sea weed extract to give them a boost then there's no worries about kiddies rooting about in the soil. Is the growth in the centre as well because that can lead to lack of air getting through. I'm no expert on pruning fruit bushes but think it's done in Spring, so perhaps you can better see what branches/shoots to leave and those to cut out. The older branches on blackcurrants tend to be a more grey colour so cut those right down to leave the younger branches.


A lot of the new growth is in the middle and it does need thinned out, but winter tis the season for pruning. The older branches are much taller and many are sideways, draping all over the paths so between the two I don't think the height would be an issue for knocking off the fruit.

I did trim the blackcurrants back, they tend to go darker charcoal and gnarly the older they are. With redcurrants or whitecurrants; which have hardly any old pruning marks the branches go darker as well and the bark peels a bit. With all, including the gooseberries (never been pruned) I focused on thinning, taking out the crossover branches and the oldest. The currant leaves that don't have dieback are very lush and healthy looking. Some have that currant leaf blister aphid, but an internet search says it doesn't affect the plant's fruiting.

The gooseberry however is lacking in lush looking leaves. Lush looking anything, the one plant with fruit is almost bare of leaves-not sawfly attack related. Just small and sparse.

The raspberries are thriving, but that was the one thing the person who looked after this area bothered with. The strawberries are stunted, but that could have been drought, mine within hose pipe and chicken manure reach are certainly huge and lush, leaf and fruit.

Hello if your using chicken manure that could be the lack of fruit problem to much nitrogen try a liquid feed of low N  a   bit of P and plenty of K eg 7,11 27  also black currants need pruning different ti white and red  ones   jezza

Chicken manure and NPK only applied on the rhubarb, which is still alive which I wasn't betting on beforehand so that's a plus.

Don't worry, I know about the differences on how to prune black vs white/red currants/ gooseberries and what age growth they fruit on. The thing is that I didn't take out all the old growth which is what the latter three fruit on. So while I'm worried it's my fault I can't see how my pruning would be the sole cause of their being no fruit. Especially when you consider that the redcurrants and gooseberries had a non existent yield last year as well. But this year the whitecurrants have barely bothered to fruit, even on the old growth that was weighed down last year with fruit. I must check and see how much new growth it has put on. I wasn't sure if the plants had been fed during the winter and the person in charge didn't tell anyone. Now I'm positive that they didn't.

The person who was in charge of the fruit area (and maybe dead) was obsessive and obstructive to say the least and couldn't work or talk with other people. They wouldn't let other people help, but wouldn't do all the work needed or tell anyone what they have done. I tried to ask about helping and the problem with the canker I had spotted in the orchard. They stood and fiddled with cables for 10 minutes waiting for me to go away and when I tried to speak to them they glanced at me and turned their back to ignore me better. Eventually they then told me do what you want and nearly backhanded me in the face to get rid of me and walked off. Then put a note up in the garden saying don't touch anything, they'd do it. They were as bad to everyone else so you can see why I'm not exactly mourning their possible passing but wary of them coming out of lockdown if it wasn't them who died. I'm worried that they will show up and go mental because I've been doing things. They seem the type.

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snowdrops

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Re: Gooseberry and currants problem.
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2020, 08:50 »
If the situation with the other people in this community place  is so bad can I ask why you are bothering to get involved. If it was me I think Id concentrate my efforts to my own garden & allotment until the situation improves
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WeavingGryphon

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Re: Gooseberry and currants problem.
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2020, 10:31 »
If the situation with the other people in this community place  is so bad can I ask why you are bothering to get involved. If it was me I think Id concentrate my efforts to my own garden & allotment until the situation improves

I do ask myself that, Husband asked me that. 2 reasons.
1. I was hoping to learn from someone who knew what they were doing, but this one individual turned out to be incompetent and to be like I described.
2. With Covid everyone else just abandoned the site and I started to water during the drought and weed to keep the plants alive. So I was the last man standing and the only one who thought to step up.

The rest of the people are lovely, but they are flowers people and have no idea about the fruit and never go over there. It's just that one and the hen pecked OH that are lacking in ability to deal with people.

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WeavingGryphon

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Re: Gooseberry and currants problem.
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2020, 07:48 »
I was down a few days ago-pre deluge and pruned out those branches took the branches out. I messaged the responsible club, of which I am a member saying I'm a bit concerned. I hope they don't find this.

All the non raspberry fruits except the blackcurrants (still a bit rubbish) are non existent. Well there is one small pax gooseberry that is 1/4 the size of the other 3 and it has small berries on it and they are all over the plant.

Wind,
If wind was a problem that 3rd of 4 gooseberries would also be bare. So would the blackcurrants.
Gooseberries closest to prevailing winds then blackcurrants, white then redcurrants behind them.

My pruning.
Wouldn't have affected the redcurrants fruiting last year.
Wouldn't have affected the pruned branches and I don't think I took out enough to send into shock.
I didn't prune all the plants, some of the unpruned aren't fruiting.

Dieback,
Affects certain branches and I'm taking them out as they manifest.
Not all the plants have it and they also have low yields.
The branches with dieback on the red and whitecurrant were the only vertical ones with fruit on them. I don't know how to interpret that fact to be honest.

Leaves,
Gooseberries, two bit lacking, could be greener, fruiting has hardly any, one very lush but no fruit. That lush one is in a separate bed and suggests the 3 together could do with a good feed.
White and Redcurrants, lots lush leaves on non dieback branches. Blister aphid present especially on redcurrant but that doesn't affect yield, some new growth.

Fruit
Gooseberries, was flowers,
Redcurrants hardly any flowers, almost no fruit last year or this year, berries are tiny and you couldn't fill a child's cup with fruit off of them. You'd maybe get 2 shot glasses if you were lucky and were picking on the ground for every single berry this year.
Whitecurrants. Hardly any this year, all on lower branches except for upright gooseberry dieback branches? I have no idea why it'd do that. Last year that plant was a heavy producer, it's a total reversal. Now it could be a fallow year, but for the redcurrants to have 2 fallow years in a row is doubtful.

Drought?
Doesn't explain last year and I was watering daily. Redcurrants got more than blackcurrants.

I've been over there on a regular basis through the summer, taken photographs to look back on and I grow all these plants in my garden so I can compare between the two sets of plants. Well mine are much younger but they won't be that dissimilar in development.

I am confused and hope they start doling out the fertilizer.

Modify, got a reply. They said raspberries are good, currants will ripen soon.
That was all. I'm tempted to not join the club again this coming year.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 07:56 by WeavingGryphon »

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CHRISDONOHUE

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Re: Gooseberry and currants problem.
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2020, 23:05 »
Shared allotment clubs can be a problem where the "authorities" lack gardening expertise and a newcomer comes in and realises that a different strategy needs to be adopted to get better results.   Overall, it seems that the bushes are suffering from neglect and probably the effects of two very dry summers.   Generally red and white currants survive well on very little pruning but blackcurrants will suffer particularly over several years if the recommended quarter of the oldest branches of the bush are not cut out each year.   Feeding of the bushes in the spring and mulching to reduce evaporation are good policies to adopt and regular watering necessary in dry summers.   I would resist giving up, since the club certainly needs you and the "authorities" may well change their attitude when they see you less as a troublesome newcomer than a regular hard worker with good gardening knowledge.   Things can change quite quickly if some members drop out and new members are required who need encouragement and support.

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WeavingGryphon

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Re: Gooseberry and currants problem.
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2020, 11:02 »
Shared allotment clubs can be a problem where the "authorities" lack gardening expertise and a newcomer comes in and realises that a different strategy needs to be adopted to get better results.   Overall, it seems that the bushes are suffering from neglect and probably the effects of two very dry summers.   Generally red and white currants survive well on very little pruning but blackcurrants will suffer particularly over several years if the recommended quarter of the oldest branches of the bush are not cut out each year.   Feeding of the bushes in the spring and mulching to reduce evaporation are good policies to adopt and regular watering necessary in dry summers.   I would resist giving up, since the club certainly needs you and the "authorities" may well change their attitude when they see you less as a troublesome newcomer than a regular hard worker with good gardening knowledge.   Things can change quite quickly if some members drop out and new members are required who need encouragement and support.

Given the age demographic in 15 years maximum and there will only be three members alive, me included. Everyone else is in their 80s and if they don't stop being so cliquey and flower obsessed there will be no club because they are, while friendly only interested in one thing and that's the flowers. That's not what the up and coming gardeners are interested in.

They are on the verge of losing half of the orchard trees due to canker and they just go oh, well talk to the person who hates people who hasn't been into the orchard for years. I've pruned and treated some-hand blisters permitting, but some of the trees the cherries in particular have had it because it's too far gone and I am not a tree surgeon. There's that much canker that cutting the canker out will amount to ringing the tree and cherry bark comes off in strips which was alarming.

It just gets me down. All the effort to plant it and it's being allowed to just die off and go to ruin. The way of men.

Modify for clarity, they haven't been into the orchard for years.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 15:12 by WeavingGryphon »



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