Monday, June 21, 2010
Our First Plant, A Blackcurrant
It's the first day of summer here in Cornwallville and it is the perfect day! The winds is blowing, and the temperature is cool and dream-like.
I was just walking the gardens spot weeding and noticed our first plant that was ever dug into the soil here. No, it isn't a unique perennial or an exotic annual or even a patio tomato.
It's a Blackcurrant shrub or Ribes nigrum. An inconspicuous looking bush that sits at the edge of the South Meadow.
I turned some of the upright branches to find beautiful black gems dangling underneath the foliage. I popped a few in my mouth, and the tart almost deep blueberry like flavors hit my taste buds.
I quickly ran to the house to call Stephen of the news. Three summers ago when we moved in to the M.H. Merchant Stone House, our first day we went down to our local organic farmer, Farmer Todd.
We introduced ourselves and got talking, an hour later we left with bags of organic vegetables and a small Blackcurrant bush that he gave us as a house-warming gift.
When we got home I just planted it at the edge of the meadow for a "temporary" spot, because there was no gardens at the time, but as of yet it hasn't moved.
The fruit is extremely high in vitamin C content, 302% of your daily value. Plus good levels of vitamin B5, potassium, iron, and phosphorus.
Currants were once tremendously popular in the U.S. in the 1800's, until believe it our not, Currant and Gooseberry farming was banned in the United States in the early 1900's. The plants were the host for white pine blister rust, a disease that threatened the logging industry at the time.
The ban has only recently been lifted in New York state in 2003, and is still banned in Maine and New Hampshire.
Currant farming is making a comeback in New York, Connecticut, Vermont and Oregon, for good reason. This shrub is an amazing producer. One established Blackcurrant can yield up to 11lbs. of fruit.
I think when our vegetable garden is built next year we will be planting more of these outstanding plants!
Ribes nigrum, or Blackcurrant
Fertile well drained soil, to sandy clay with a pH of 6-6.5