Anyway, having cleared that up, I have to sadly report that all my blackcurrant bushes do indeed have Big Bud Mite. How do I know this? Thanks to the sharp eyed vigilance of Carah, aka Her On The Hill, at http://viewfromthehighpeak.blogspot.com/
She spotted the telltale round buds in a photo in my previous post and, bless her heart, took the time to write to me explaning it all and to give me a link to the appropriate site to check it out :- http://www.dgsgardening.btinternet.co.uk/bigbud.htm
Having BBM explains why for the past two or three years, my blackcurrant bushes have started off well, then many buds have just shrivelled up and died! I had no idea that the buds shouldn't be round and she has NO idea how grateful I am to her for spotting the problem and telling me about it! Thank you so much :)
Carah writes an excellent, amusing, newsy and informative blog that's well worth a visit if you've never been over there. She's also doing a 2 year City & Guilds course in Practical gardening, hence her knowledge of BBM. This does make me feel that I really ought to do some sort of 'proper' course instead of just making it up as I go along, like I do now!
This is what healthy blackcurrant buds should look like - nice rugby ball shaped buds. I struggled to find these few on my bushes.
This is what Big But Mite affected blackcurrant buds look like. Bigger, rounder, more like a beach ball . No problem finding a plethora of these to photograph! :(
Of course, having now read all about BBM, I know that I have to dig up all 8 - yes 8, of my beloved blackcurrant bushes and burn them to stop the mites spreading. I then have to get new bushes and put them in a different part of the garden. This will, of course, necessitate moving our large fruit cage .......however , I have a cunning plan!
There's a very nice patch of newly cleared ground where the conifers used to be - up behind the greenhouse at the opposite side of the garden - still sunny, still protected from the winds (in fact, better protected from the westerlies we get here!) and if I move the fruit cage, the redcurrant bushes, the gooseberry bushes and the 2 blackberry bushes that I planted the day before Carah spotted the BBM, then that leaves a large empty space topside of the tea house and japanese garden...Hmmmm!
Now what could I possibly do with a 20ftish x16ftish space so close to my tea house eh?! :D
Whilst you're pondering on that one, just to prove that spring is happening - albeit more slowly than usual, here are some snowdrops and a couple of crocus.
The flowering cherry by the vegetable garden is just coming into blossom.
And just for The Gnome up in Glasgow on Down On The Allotment here are the home-made anti-squirrel devices I was telling you about! One or two one litre pop bottles with the bottoms cut off and some 'trician's tape on the pole to stop the bottles sliding down - job's a good 'un!
Have a good weekend.