Growing soft fruit makes a lot of sense. You get to eat it super fresh when the Vitamin C content is at its highest. Blackcurrants have the highest Vitamin C content of all. Most of the blackcurrants produced in this country are grown in Herefordshire and made into that famous blackcurrant cordial. It is worth growing them in your garden. They make excellent foundation planting in a garden, although you will have to net your fruit against families of thrushes and blackbirds.

Currants need regular pruning, but red and white currants are pruned differently to blackcurrants. The aim with both is to create a permanent framework of strong stems, between eight and ten is usually ideal. Red and white currants fruit on older wood so the side shoots on your main stems are cut back to one bud. The top of these eight or ten branches (often called leaders) are then tipped back by two to three inches (5-7 cm) to stimulate new growth on the side shots. This is the way fruit spurs are produced and gooseberries; most apples and most pears are pruned in this way.

It is traditional to prune redcurrants and white currants as the sap rises — just as the buds begin to swell. This indicates whether the buds have been pecked and damaged by birds. Bullfinches are the main offenders. However, my bushes are in a fruit cage so I usually prune them in on a clement day in winter. Redcurrants and white currants can suffer from die back, so any wood that looks brown and dead inside is cut down into fresh white wood. If successive cuts reveal that die back has entered the main stem, sadly the whole bush will have to be removed.

Redcurrants crop very heavily, even on poor soil, and one mature bush usually produces up to ten pounds of fruit. Tie the branches to canes set around each plant to prevent the branches flopping to the ground under the weight of the fruit. ‘Jonkheer van Tets’ is one of the earliest, bearing heavy crops of large red berries with an excellent flavour.

Blackcurrants fruit on new wood and they are more-vigorous growers. They enjoy warm, moist conditions just like those found in Herefordshire. They are shallow rooted and the area around them should be hand weeded rather than dug. It is also helpful to mulch to keep moisture in. Blackcurrants crop on new vigorous shoots and pruning consists of removing two or three of the older dark stems from the base every year. This can be done when picking the fruit, or during dormancy. I have to say it’s easier to spot the older branches in summer when the new ones are much lighter. The buds will soon be breaking into growth and it’s worth giving blackcurrants a nitrogen-rich fertiliser like Growmore now to boost them. My fruit cage becomes a giant chicken coop in winter so hopefully nitrogen levels are already high.

My chickens got very cross when I was pruning today. They thought the sawdust specks were grain and they rushed, over only to be disappointed. Sorry girls!