Replacing currant bushes, what should I plant instead?

Hello,

Really appreciate this site, great for a newbie like me. We moved from the city to a property with a small fruit orchard, and boy am I over my head! So many questions, reading through the threads has helped me a lot!

The house came with six very healthy black currant bushes. I mean, those are very lovely looking, vigorous, handsome bushes. We had never known of currant before, and when we asked the previous owner what they were used for, he said something along the lines, “they are good medicine”. So that should have clued us in. But that was late fall, and they didn’t have any fruit, so we had to wait till this summer to try the berries. I researched them, and I figured out they may not be good out of hand, but may make some good jelly. Well, fast-forward to summer this year, and I can honestly say those are the worst tasting fruit I ever tried (and once I bit into a soda apple). I figured jelly might be the thing. Nope, kids and husband won’t touch that jelly. I now have 6 quarts of jelly that will be our famine food since no one in the family will eat it unless starving.

I feel terrible about riping out the bushes, but I want to grow something we can enjoy. We already have some blackberry and raspberry brambles. I’d like to replace the currants with another berry bush. We are in zone 5b, central Illinois, silt loam clay. Bushes get sun for about 5 hours /dappled shade for the middle part of the day. Soils are not acidic enough for blueberries, and they stay somehow wet during the spring.

What should I plant there? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Ana

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You should have tried black currant jam instead. Its a fabulous fruit, but if you don’t like it grow more raspberries and blackberries.

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The best fruit to plant is something you enjoy. I like peaches and cherries but you may not. We also don’t know how much you are willing to do. Would you be willing to do a spray program for example.

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I love black currants, what a fantastic plant. But yeah not for everybody. Well you could try gooseberries or honeyberries but both too are not ideal for fresh eating. For honeyberries try Aurora or the boreal series. Get at least two.

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Ihave a glendale goose berry that produce good berries but not may of them. It goes this fall

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Yeah some gooseberries are shy producers and some produce tons of berries. Depends if you’re cold enough with some.

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my jeanne gooseberry is weighted to the ground with berries. those black currants must be a very old cultivar or wild plants. mine are great in jams and juice. my favorite small fruit by far.

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What type of food you’re used too? Black currant jam is one of the best jams in my opinion.

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Maybe the berries weren’t ripe? Hard to say without tasting them there with you. Black currants have a musky taste- my wife hates them but I like them. People either love or hate them, so you must fall into the second category. If that is the case, there is not much that can be done. Either enjoy the plant as an ornamental, or dig it up and post it for sale or for free on Craigslist or fb.

Sounds like it is time for you to get some honeyberries or saskatoons instead.

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They were ripe. Some people here at this forum mentioned that for some cultivars you should even wait till the fruit is a bit wrinkled. we tried at plump and completely colored, all the way to slightly prunny appearance. A no-go fresh. The jelly is not bad, is just not what the kids want. I made concord grape, dandelion, strawberry, raspberry, juneberry and black currant jelly this year. kids ratings: dandelion: meh. Concord grape, juneberry: good. Strawberry: great. And raspberry: awesome. Currant: definitely bad. I guess we are in the ‘hate them’ camp. I wonder if it is genetic like tasting soap in cilantro.

I am interested in honeyberries for sure, but I already planted some in another area.

How do you dig out 5’ bushes so they can be replanted if someone wants them? It didn’t occur to me that someone may use them. Craiglist is a good idea. Free bushes anyone :laughing:?

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My kids ratings for the jelly I made this year were: dandelion: meh. Concord grape, juneberry: good. Strawberry: great. And raspberry: awesome. Black currant was a hard no. I didn’t think it was too bad, but I am in the minority, and not the one eating the bulk of the jelly. So sadly we will not be harvesting them again.

Hi Steve, I have not idea what cultivar they are. They came with the house. I made sure they were indeed black currants as the previous owner said. It would not surprise me if they are a unnamed variety. It is a shame, as they are fully developed bushes, but between the time it takes to harvest and the refusal of the children to eat the jelly, it is not worth it.

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We are not used to spraying. We just started this adventure. We had to spray the apples for codling moth but that was it for pest control. We applied compost, fertilizer, pruned, weeded etc. So I guess I would say we are willing to work for the garden but def not a full time job lol. Any suggestions of berry bushes that may not die on us?

As another possibility, you might consider making wine and/or tincture from these black currants.

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With some sweat and a shovel they will come out. And if it’s free, you might be able to get someone to do the work for you, especially for a mature plant.

What honeyberry varieties did you plant?

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Plenty grows in zone 5. Just depends what you want. Pears, apples, peaches, sweet cherries, tart cherries, chokecherries, honeyberry, serviceberry, blackberries, raspberries, mulberry and more all grow in your area to name a few.

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To stick to things that you can’t find in a grocery store, if you can grow black currants you can probably grow gooseberries or colored currants (like people have already said). Colored currants taste quite differently.

You can also probably grow thimbleberries, which are supposed to be very good.

Mulberries are another option, but they come from quick growing trees.

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Cinderella, Borealis from Stark bros, Blue sea from Burt ridge. I have a few ordered from Honeyberry USA, Maxie, Solo and Blizzard. There are a lot of different opinions on which variety taste best, so I ended up ordering a variety of them. The ones I planted already haven’t done much all summer. Hoping the cooler weather will help them.

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Those sound like good choices for honeyberries.

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Aurora and blizzard are widely considered “the best”. I think blizzard is the best. Your kids probably won’t like them fresh off the bush. I like them, but every time I have given some to neighbor kids they make funny faces or spit them out. If you make a jam and add sugar the kids will probably like it then.

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