Friday, May 22, 2009
Someone once told me, or I read, that the Queen loved red currant jam and the company that supplied her provided a few jars with the seeds handpicked out of the jam. The alternative seedless preparation is red currant jelly but it doesn't have the wherewithal of jam,especially sans seeds. Whether this is apocryphal or not, I am sure it might have been a " dainty dish to set before a Queen". Frankly that would be too fussy for me. Get a toothpick. Our currants this year have an abundance of tresses on both the red and white. The cousins,gooseberries and black currants, are not berried in such abundance. I know of no other way to avoid currant maggot other than carefully staged spraying with malathion. Even my organic grower daughter concedes this. The pianist prefers red currant jelly but I like the jam, seeds or not. The jelly is less demanding and somewhat sleeved because the few maggots that may have been overlooked have been liquified in the processing. I hope this does not turn you off. If it does, stick to black currants because the maggots don't find them as tasty. Because we have, on Lotus Island, wild currants and wild gooseberries, the maggot is endemic. No amount of good husbandry will eradicate it, though you can minimize the damage. Encourage measures in your patch to cause the currant fly to emerge prematurely, Deepen your soil bed with well rotted leaf mold of a type not amended by currant debris to make it more difficult for the pupae. Someone said put your chickens in the patch to scratch and eat in the spring before the fly emerges from the pupae. I don't have any chickens. Since the maggot causes the berry to ripen prematurely, pick them off and destroy them before the main pick. Don't be dissuaded from staging three spray sessions of Methoxyclor or its less toxic cousin, Malathion at flower time. These four little fruits harken me back to my Manitoba roots with my grandparents. It may be that the Manitoba winters were often too cold for the pupae in the soil to survive. Those were the days, without poisons!