Monday, April 6, 2015

Currants and Jostaberries

More edibles are being installed here in orchard-land.  After reading the traditional wisdom that peas are planted on Good Friday, I rushed out there on Sunday and planted 3 varieties in a row (marked with fiberglass poles that look like they could be marking a gas line).  Actually, there is a large gas line pretty close to this area, but that is another topic.  The plan is that some page wire will be held up by the poles as a trellis for the peas.  Will a metal trellis work here?  I have no idea.  I suppose peas aren't going to last until the hot months of July and August anyhow.
Row of peas next to stock tank raised beds

While growing currants doesn't seem like an Okanagan thing to do, I decided to get some anyhow.  I had tried Jostaberries in SK only to have them die of fungal disease.  Having observed the success of wild golden currants already on property, I thought I might give a second try at some other varieties in the Ribes genus.  I planted two Jostaberries (a complex cross of two different gooseberries and a black currant) and two black currant bushes.  I read that Jostaberries can get up to 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide.  I am cringing now, worried that we have crowded them, planting maybe 3.5 feet apart?  Also, these will shade the east end of the vegetable garden.  Something else (not yet planted or planned) will miss its morning sun.  If this continues to eat away at me, I may have to move one or two of them.

I had intended on making a fully-planned, attractive vegetable garden like those lovely European country ones on Pinterest, complete with calendulas, a willow-branch teepee covered in pea vines, and a neat herb hedge.  Instead, we have piles of dirt on a compacted sandy patch of earth and fiberglass poles.  Oh, and I was told two days ago by dear husband that there needs to be an oblique path through the center of the garden for a tractor.  That particular feature is never accounted for in Pinterest gardens.  Oh well.
Jostaberry bush, with apples in background
 If you can't beat them, join them: I took cuttings from the wild golden currants (Ribes aureum) growing without a care on the hill above our house.  If the hybrid berry bushes don't make it, at least I know that the wild ones should be able to thrive on nearly no attention.  Besides, they had really lovely yellow and red flowers last spring.  If my cuttings are successful, the plants would be attractive just dotting the informally-landscaped areas.  Also, we made some pretty good jam out of them last year.   

 To increase my chance of success in cuttings (many failures with rot in the past), I have turned to a thick and mysterious-looking dark purple gel I found on the internet.  The sellers seemed to imply that I could produce a multitude of clones of my "medicinal plants" with this fantastic product.  The picture in the front of the bottle certainly isn't a rose or currant, but I figure that if it is good enough for "medicinal plants", it might work for me.  I pulled off the bottom leaves and dipped the cuttings in the gel and inserted them in clean potting mix which was watered till slightly damp.  Now the waiting...
Golden currant cutting among the seedlings
Ribes sanguineum, flowering currant in Summerland Ornamental Gardens

While we are talking about currants, I spotted a lovely dark-pink flowering shrub at the Summerland Ornamental Gardens this morning.  It was located in the Butterfly Garden area, but without a label.  As far as I can tell, it is a flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum.

It is native to BC, though I don't know if this is some special named variety different than the wild type.  Its dark pink flowers are quite attractive. 

Ribes sanguineum, the flowering currant
The major fun at the butterfly garden (for me) was recommending that the kids put their noses into the Fritillaria imperialis.  They are impressive showy flowers, but definitely quite skunky.  

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