Gooseberries and redcurrants may be propagated in October, I shall be taking a few cuttings of the latter but since I am the only one who likes gooseberries one plant is plenty for a couple of pies and a few helpings of 'Gooseberry Idiot' ( like Gooseberry Fool but without the cream). Redcurrants and gooseberries differ from the blackcurrants in the way they spread. The latter grow from the base, forming new shoots which burst out from below ground level. Redcurrants, on the other hand, spread from existing wood on the plant, so the technique for propagation is simply to take a cutting from the new growth about 25cm long, strip away the lower buds leaving 4 or 5 at the top end and stick the stick in the soil. I put the base of the cuttings in a v shape in the soil (formed by inserting a spade and moving it slightly), so that the stripped part of the cutting is below ground. As with all transplants I press down the soil around the base and water them in.
Red Currant Cutting 2009
Red Currant Cutting 2009
The Red Currants have been a great success, this year the size and amount of berries were most impressive. Itís just a pity that I didnít get to eat any, the pigeons stripped the lovely great big berries before I could harvest them.
I stopped cutting the spears in mid June to allow the plants to gather strength. They have developed into tall ferny foliage, the whole row is flourishing. The bed needs to be painstakingly hand weeded to keep it free, for once established it is difficult to remove large weeds without damaging the asparagus. Most years I have just left them to support themselves but one year they strained and bent over during a very strong windy spell so I supported them by stretching lines around the whole row. Later in the autumn the foliage will turn yellow, and at this point I will cut down the stems.
If I want the basil to survive I will have to pot it and bring it inside in the sunlight away from the risk of cold. I already have some potted up on the window ledges. They reputedly repel flies, and we donít seem to have a problem, whether itís because of the basil I do not know. The other herbs should survive the winter.
I will split old woody thyme plants when I transplant them.
I usually split the sage in early spring and trim the plants once they have flowered. The rosemary hedge and mint in a pot stay where they are.
Mint is very hardy, and the only problem its likely to give you is not being able to get rid of it, although, in truth for all the scare stories its no worse than most invasive weeds like couch grass or chickweed and the same principle applies. If you want to get rid of it you have to make sure every last bit of root is out or it will regenerate. Anyway I have it in an old flower pot which was diverted from its journey to the tip, given a reprieve, its mock sandstone exterior now three quarters buried below ground level.
Rosemary will survive the winter, although one year it did pick up a little frost damage. Unfortunately I did not realize what it was and suspected a disease. Acting quickly, thinking my whole hedge was at risk, I removed the complete corner plant which had been affected greatly, in a misguided attempt at getting rid of the non existent disease. Only later did I work out that the corner plant was most affected by the harsh winter wind. It really underlines the importance of barriers to protect less hardy plants and the powerful influence of the weather.