I ordered my usual three 70 litre bags of compost from Local Hardware Store during the week, and remembered to add a couple of bags of well-rotted horse manure to my order. So there’s now a layer of it sitting on the soil around my redcurrant bushes:
This is a follow on from my last post, where I’d discussed the sawfly problem with a fellow gardener. I also had a go at a bit of light pruning, clipping off any diseased twigs and removing one or two big branches that were rubbing up against other branches and generally getting in the way. But frankly I still don’t feel I know what I’m doing when it comes to pruning redcurrants.
The next stage is to wait till the leaves come out, and pick off any larvae that I find from the undersides. Hopefully most of them won’t have made it that far, thanks to the manure.
Encouraged by today’s lovely weather, I also turned over the compost heap, picked off surplus figs from the fig tree and divided the sorrel (grows in a black bucket, not visible in the above pic).
I had a great conversation with another vegetable grower the other week, over a game of bowls. I mentioned my sawfly/redcurrant problem (see this post), and she gave me the following tip: horse manure. Stick a layer of horse manure over the soil (in early spring, I think she said), and the sawfly larvae will have a much harder job to emerge and plunder your redcurrant bushes. Something to think about.
I talked about the mysterious entity that was eating our raised bed redcurrant bush in this post. Turns out that it’s now moved on to the bush that’s growing in the dustbin.
Thanks to a fellow gardener in a forum that I’m on, I’m reasonably confident that the “entity” is the gooseberry sawfly, which also likes redcurrants. There are several options from here on:
1. Pull out the redcurrant bushes and grow something else.
2. In late March/early April when the leaves come out, start checking the leaves for signs of larvae and squish any offenders. (Apparently they owverwinter in the soil underneath the bushes.) According to the Royal Horticultural Society, there are several ways of dealing with sawfly, including organic pesticides (e.g. pyrethrum), and nematodes. I’ve also heard that neem oil is a natural alternative to conventional pesticides.
So, looks as though I will either be ripping out the redcurrants altogether, or pruning them back come late Feb/early March, and going on sawfly watch in April. Fun stuff.