BLACK CURRANT Ribes nigrum
The blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) is a woody shrub in the family Grossulariaceae grown for its piquant berries. It is native to temperate parts of central and northern Europe and northern Asia and is widely cultivated both commercially and domestically. It is winterhardy. Blackcurrants can be eaten raw but are usually cooked in a variety of sweet or savoury dishes. They are used to make jams, jellies and syrups and are grown commercially for the juice market. The fruit is also used in the preparation of alcoholic beverages and both fruit and foliage have uses in traditional medicine and the preparation of dyes.
Ribes nigrum, the blackcurrant, is a medium-sized shrub, growing to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) by 1.5 metres (4.9 ft).
In midsummer the strigs of green fruit ripen to edible berries, very dark purple in colour, almost black, with glossy skins and persistent calyxes at the apex, each containing many seeds. An established bush can produce about 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) of fruit each year.
Blackcurrants can grow well on sandy or heavy loams, or forest soils, as long as their nutrient requirements are met.
Hardiness zones: 3-9
Seeds per pack: 10
Germination: As with many perennial seeds, these seeds require a period of moist cold to help them break dormancy. This is done by giving them a cold 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:
Obtain a planting container that has holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. Place the seeds just under the surface of your growing medium, and water. Place your container in a cold area (but not freezing, perhaps a refrigerator) for 4-6 weeks. Once the cold period is completed, place the container at room temperature for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period. Seedlings will sprout a few weeks, or occasionally several months, after the warming period.
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