This section of the book is from the Guide To Hardy Fruits And Ornamentals book, by Thomas Joseph Dwyer, published in 1903.
There is perhaps no other specie of the small fruit family, with the possible exception of the Strawberry, that is so generally adaptable to our varied conditions of soil and climates as the Currant and probably none other of these fruits are so easily, successfully and profitably cultivated over such a wide range of country. For several years past there has been a surprisingly and constantly increased demand for this valuable fruit. At the present time it is one of the moist popular of all the small fruits. Its great and growing popularity is probably owing to the fact that the fruit is desirable and available for so many separate purposes. It must be admitted that the demand for this fruit has been pretty generally supplied; nevertheless, we find good fruit bring good paying prices to the grow one year with another and the growers of currants seem to be their plantations, which of is good proof that this is one of our most profitable fruit crops, and the writer can, from years of experience, testify to the correctness of this observation. We have in the past years grown and marketed many crops of this fruit that have brought us remunerative prices, so that we are prepared to say that for commercial purposes the Currant can be made a decided success. Then for the home garden there is scarcely any fruit more useful and desirable in so many different ways; in fact, no private garden is complete without a good selection of the red, white and black varieties that will prolong the season for fruit as far as possible. Fortunately, this can be cone with a very few of the best varieties.
* Preparation of the Soil
-- Any land that will answer for the ordinary farm crop will do for the Currant. The ground should be prepared the same as for Strawberries, as explained on page 49. Firm the soil thoroughly about the roots with the use of the feet; the plants should be pruned back one-half at the time of planting -- the after pruning is very simple and easily done, removing one-half the new wood each year and also any old or dead wood. Neglect of annual pruning will soon bring the bush into a large and unfruitful plant, besides the fruit will depreciate both in size, color and quality, when grown under this neglected condition.
The Two Systems -- There are two separate ways of cultivating the Currant. The Row System, is to plant four feet apart in the row and five feet apart between the rows, with this method you can only cultivate your plants one way.
The Hill System, is to plant five feet apart each way, grow the plants in the hills and cultivate both ways. This plan minimizes the hand labor to a considerable extent, as quite all of the tillage can be done with the use of the plow and cultivator, in fact, a crop of Currants grown in this way can be matured quite as cheaply as a crop of corn or potatoes. When one is planting in a large way, and when it is practicable, this is decidedly the best and most economical method of growing. This system requires 1,750 plants for a solid acre of Currants.
* When to Plant
-- Currants should be planted as early as possible; we must remember that this is one of the very first fruits to start vegetation in the Spring, consequently, they should be transplanted early, while in dormant condition. March and April are the months to plant in the Spring, the earlier the better. Currants are one of the first fruits to lose their foliage. In the Autumn, therefore, they can be planted with advantage any time after September first until December first, and between these dates is perhaps the best time to plant the Currant. When planted at this season it is beneficial to place a large forkful or two of manure about each plant as a little protection during the Winter months and as a fertilizer.
* The Currant Worm
-- This is perhaps the worst enemy we have to contend with in the cultivation of this fruit. It is a long green worm that attacks the foliage early in the: Summer, usually about June first or just after we have had two or three days. of very warm weather. If left unmolested they will soon defoliate the bushes, when the fruit will become scalded and quite worthless from the direct hot rays of the sun Fortunately, we can cope with this enemy easily and cheaply. As soon as they appear, at once spray with the Bordeaux Mixture and Paris Green added as formulated on page 11, this single spraying if thoroughly done will generally be sufficient and all that is needed; however, if another brood appears spray a second time as before. The Bordeaux spray will also eradicate any possible funguous disease that your plants may be troubled with. This spray is cheap, efficacious, easily applied and will kill the worms in a few hours.
* Cane Blight
-- This attacks the Currants at different growing seasons of the year. We have observed that old plantations are most susceptible to it. The moment it is noticed on the plant the part thus affected should be cut out and burned at once and if you think the entire bush is contaminated, better remove it bodily rather than run the risk of spreading it over the entire plantation.
* Life of the Currant
-- When grown under good, fair, average tillage, the Currant will bear profitable crops from eight to twelve years without resetting. There is no other single plant so adaptable and that can be used so successfully and advantageously. When grown with the tree fruits, the Currant does well in partial shade and, strange as it may seem, it is the fact nevertheless, that when grown under these conditions the size and productiveness of the fruit is increased. For this reason, as well as for the other favorable characteristics of the plant, it is the most desirable of all the small fruits to use in connection with the tree fruits. In planting a young orchard of apples, pears, peaches or other tree fruits you can plant Currants both between the trees in the row and also between the rows of trees. The Currants can be fruited in this way for six to eight years or until the trees come into full bearing, without, in any way interfering with or retarding the growth of the trees; both can be tilled at the same time, and practically at the same expense; at least, the extra expense of labor for both will be very much minimized.
-- We have found stable manure the best fertilizer for the Currant; the best way to apply it is in the Fall. Use two or three good forkfuls around each bush and let it remain on the surface of the ground during the Winter months. In this way we accomplish the double purpose of feeding the plant and Winter protection. Where you cannot get the stable manure you can use two tons of unleached wood ashes to the acre, or one ton of some good commercial fruit and vine fertilizer to the acre; or the following, we'll mixed together, is very desirable: 600 lbs. of pure ground bone, 300 lbs. of muriate of potash, 150 lbs. of nitrate of soda. Any of the above fertilizers should be broadcast in the Spring, cultivating it in the soil.
* Varieties of Currants
-- The list of varieties of Currants has been kept well under control. Unlike many of our other fruits, we have not a superfluous and confusing list to choose from. Nevertheless, we will trim the present list down as far as consistent and name only those varieties that we can recommend from practical experience. You can rely on those that follow to give the best results obtainable from this fruit.