Late autumn to early winter is the perfect time to plant soft fruits such as gooseberries, redcurrants, whitecurrants and blackcurrants. If you plant a selection of these compact, easy-to-grow shrubs, you’ll get harvests over a long season.
Choose a sunny site, either on the veg plot, in a border or against a south- or west-facing wall. Dig a generous hole, fork plenty of garden compost into the base, then stand the plant in the hole. Back-fill around the rootball with soil, firm down, then water in well. Continue to water regularly.
Freshly harvested strings of blackcurrants
‘Ben Connan’ – a compact plant, so it’s an ideal choice when space is tight. It produces large tasty berries.
‘Ben Hope’ – resistant to mildew, this variety produces a heavy crop of delicious fruits.
‘Ben Sarek’ – this variety produces an abundant harvest of large juicy berries from mid-July, on a neat, compact bush.
Gooseberries ripening on the bush
‘Invicta’ – a heavy-cropping variety that’s very resistant to mildew. The fruits are great for freezing and for making into jam.
‘Martlet’ – the bright red dessert berries are delicious and ripen in midsummer.
‘Rokula’ – these early ripening, dark red fruits are sweet enough to eat uncooked. The plants are compact, resistant to mildew and high yielding.
Redcurrants on the bush
‘Redstart’ – bears bright red fruits that begin ripening in the second half of August.
‘Laxton’s Number One’ – a heavy cropper producing big, glossy berries with a particularly good flavour.
‘Jonkheer van Tets’ – one of the earliest to ripen, from early July, this variety has large, bright red fruits that are juicy and delicious.
Whitecurrants on the bush
‘Blanka’ – the heavy crop of large sweet white berries, borne in abundant long clusters, ripens during August.
‘White Grape’ – the fruits have a sweet flavour and are almost white in colour.
‘White Versailles’ – a popular mid-season variety, it has pearly white fruits with a fine, sweet flavour. It crops reliably and well.