This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Never, in this country, has the cultivation of the currant received so much attention as it does at the present moment.
We have it upon reliable authority, that all the skill and industry of our nurserymen are unequal to the propagation of a stock sufficiently large to meet the demand, and that heavy importations are annually made from Europe, not of new varieties alone, but of the old sorts that have been the occupants of our gardens in some form or other for a hundred years or more.
* [This important work has been very greatly enlarged, and a new edition has just appeared in London. The wood-outs are nearly completed for an American edition, which has been placed under our editorial care. It will probably be published in 1857, in Philadelphia and New York. - Ed].
This at first sight appears strange, bat it can very readily be accounted for.
The population of this country has increased, of late years, at an amazing rate, and almost every man who is possessed of a piece of land, whether it be a small plot in the village, or a thousand acres in the far West, plants a few currant bushes.
Whether he plants other fruit trees or not, he is sure to plant currants. They thrive everywhere, and yield fruit under any sort of treatment. Above all, they bear soon, and this, especially in a new country destitute of fruits, is of no small importance.
In many parts of this country, wine is made from the currant to a very considerable extent. A gentleman in Wisconsin wrote us lately, that he had sold some to the druggists at $4 per gallon, and could sell a large quantity at that price. He is about making an extensive plantation for this purpose, and he should do so if he can get $4 per gallon for the wine, or even half that sum. The best currant wine we have ever tasted, indeed we may say the only sample deserving the name of wine, was made, last season, from the White Grape variety, the subject of this notice. It was made thus: to every gallon of clear drained juice was added two gallons of soft water, and 9 lbs. of extra refined loaf-sugar, making three gallons of wine. Nearly all the currant wine we have tasted, has been spoiled with alcohol being added in some form or other.
The currant is a fruit for the North, and we are perfectly satisfied that where the Grape cannot be grown for wine, the Currant may become an excellent substitute. This will apply to a very large tract of the Northern United States.
The introduction of improved varieties has given a great impetus to the culture of the Currant in the old States. The Cherry in size, the Victoria in lateness, are great acquisitions. The White Grape is by far the largest and finest White Currant in existence. The bush is lower and more spreading than the White Dutch, with much darker foliage, easily distinguished. There is much confusion among the White Currants; both in this country and in England, the White Grape and Dutch are confounded. .
What we want above all things, in the Currant, is size, an important requisite in all the small fruits, on account of the expense of gathering.
We have said that the Currant yields fruit under any sort of treatment, and this is true, but no other fruit is more sensible of kindness, or less difficult to spoil by it. To have large crops, large bunches, and large fruit, we must manure highly, and give the shoots and branches a regular thinning and shortening in the autumn or winter of every year.