[NAFEX] Ribes update

Kieran &/or Donna holycow at frontiernet.net
Thu Nov 5 10:45:31 EST 2009

Gooseberry update:
    In researching the varieties you all mentioned and recommended, I found 
out that American gooseberry mildew invaded England and NZ in the 1980's, 
creating a sudden flurry of breeding activity which we in the eastern US can 
benefit from.   The Hinnonmaki gooseberry varieties came from a plant or 
plants collected wild off a Finnish island and apparently they had no idea 
what a gem they had found.  Whether these are actually wild collected or 
crosses of a wild plant, they are very disease resistant, not just to mildew 
but also to the cursed leaf spot.  The taller red one must have originally 
been called "Leepa Red" but someone has decided it would be better to link 
it name-wise to the little best seller, Hinnonmaki or Hinomaki Yellow. 
(This is shortened Finnish that just happens to read like Japanese.)
    The gooseberry seems to have been extremely popular in England as 
something that the average backyard gardener could play with and produce his 
own crosses, so thousands of vars have been named.  These will probably be 
largely swept away by the new disease to be replaced by crosses of our 
native vars (many of them crosses to the Euro) and of new collected vars or 
old lesser known cultivars that turn out resistant.  I think it was John S 
who recommended Red Jacket aka Josslyn, which sounded good but my old Rodale 
book said it was prone to mildew if grown further south.  I would like to 
try Invicta (which seemed to have the most supporters and detractors), 
Jahn's Prairie and Jeanne,  but prefer to start with sure bets.  I 
definitely want to try Glenndale, but only Edible Landscaping carries it for 
a $20 price tag.

    The oft reviled Canadian black currant releases Consort, Crusader and 
that other one have been crossed to European black currants to produce Ben 
Lomand, now the most widely planted black currant in Europe for juice, and 
others in the Scottish "Ben" series.  (Ben meaning mountain.)  Resistance 
varies, I hope in a year or two there are more of these available.  Titania 
doesn't sound all that great to me, has anyone tasted it?

I put in my order to Whitman Farms:

2 Hinomaki Yellow (and they are little bitty horizontal guys, nothing like 
the others!)
1 Hinomaki Red
1 amish Red
1 Crandall currant
1 Ben Lomand
1 Ben Sarek
1 Black Down

With shipping they ran $10 each.  I was idly wondering if I might want to 
change my order when the plants suddenly arrived, 8 days after I dropped my 
check in the mail!  It must have been their first shipping day, as there 
were still leaves on some of the plants.  I put the little H yellows right 
in the garden in the rose row, plenty of thorns for company there, and the 
Crandall down at the end of the blueberry row as it sounds like it might 
come in so late it could be netted with them.  The others are in pots while 
I study my compass and the tree line for the black currants to be shaded in 
the afternoon.  This is the first time I've seen what the thorns on 
gooseberries are normally like.  When I told my husband that the local plant 
I collected is the lowest of the low flavorwise and told him the name, he 
exclaimed, "Pigswill?  What kind of name is that?!"  I said, "Pixwell, 
Pixwell, because it doesn't have many thorns."  But it will be called 
Pigswill in this household forever more.  I know that's what it is because 
the fruit starts out sour, then goes completely insipid when it's ripe. 
Never seems to have any other flavor.  I got out this past sunny weekend, 
yes, sunshine, I'd forgotten what it was like, and dug out a 4 young mimosa 
trees and all kinds of weeds that were competing, and found about 5 rooted 
sprouts around the edges of my Pigswill plant.  Next some phosphate, and 
Rodale press said that Ribes do better without commercial fertilizer so I'll 
just give it some rock dust and a speck of fertilizer next spring.  The 
plant's really big enough, I'd just like it to crop better till my new 
plants kick in.
    I think the info on new Ribes introductions is worth getting into Pomona 
for the winter issue, so that people have time to order for spring.  Any 
further comments you'd like to see included?    Donna 

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