A few months ago as our blackcurrant bush was happily blossoming and promising a bountiful harvest I began to notice something very annoying. The flowers were falling off just as quickly as they were developing. This had also happened last year, in the bushes first season in our garden, and I had not figured out what the cause had been. This year I decided that I had to figure it out fast or we wouldn't get a single fruit at all.
So, I pulled out my little garden stool and sat in front of the bush which is currently occupying a large car tyre. I decided that the best way to deal with this was to listen to the bush. By this I mean to let it tell me what to do. Now, to be fair, I didn't think that the bush was actually going to speak to me but in some way I knew that if I listened properly I would get some sort of feedback from it, or maybe my own instincts would give me the feedback I required. Either way I had tried this to a small degree on other plants and animals and it seemed to have worked.
So I closed my eyes and listened. At first I got the impression that there was nothing I could do, that the plant was doomed to be fruitless again this year. Then my mind's eye started to move up and down the branch that was in front of me. Up and down and up and down, making a vague spiral on each descent and ascent. At first I had no idea how to interpret this but then my mind seemed to be shouting "open your eyes!". At last I did this and there right in front of me were two woodlice walking down the length of the branch. It hit me suddenly that they must be snapping the blossoms off. Why they would do this I wasn't quite sure but it must have been them. I watched another few walking up a different branch and then I looked at the top of the branches in question. There, nestled in a tight bunch was what seemed like a little nest of woodlice, just beside the few blossoms that were left. They were all mooching around and seemed to be very comfortable indeed. I wasn't sure how to remove them because they were so tightly bunched in a cluster of new buds. I took a chance and shook the branch fairly violently so that they starting to fly off in all directions. I managed to clear them off the plant but knew they would return. Luckily only a couple of the remaining blossoms had fallen off and the next day when I shook off the intruders again none of the blossoms fell off. After a few days of shaking the woodlice didn't return and so the flowers turned to fruit which slowly ripened. In total we had about 12 fruits, but at least we had some and now I know what to look out for next year.
The fact that the bush is in a pot may cause it to be more susceptible to woodlice as they have plenty of places to live over the winter. For example they would congregated under the pot or under the lip of the tyre at the top. But maybe if I keep an eye on the plant from the start of spring I can prevent a build up, or maybe I could go and ask the blackcurrant if it has any advice :)
The fact that I got some insight into the problem by taking the time to just listen to the plant still surprises me but I intend to experiment more with this and see if I can get a better insight into all my fruit issues. Where the information is coming from, while being an interesting question, is less important than the fact that it seems to be possible to find the solution to more things than we might give ourselves credit for.