If you were going to design the perfect berry then it would be the blueberry. They’re juicy, fresh, nutritious and neatly packaged, so you don’t get messy when popping them in your mouth.
Blueberries differ from the other soft fruit that grows on our farms, because they grow on a bush that could live for up to 20 years.
They arrive with us as small plants and have to be nurtured in the early days to prevent them getting damaged by the wind, pests or frosty conditions. We achieve this by growing them carefully in polythene tunnels, where they’re watered and fed with exactly the right sort of food that they need to grow strong shoots.
During the first year we don’t pick any berries, instead we pick all of the flowers off. We do this so that all of the energy that the sun gives the plants can go into the generation of a strong plant, with the specific structure we want.
Ideally, the bushes should grow into a wine glass shape – with the centre open and no branches, which allows the air to flow through and around the plant. This is important as it will prevent the plants suffering from diseases later on and also makes it easier to pick the berries. Once the plants have grown to 50cm tall they are pruned back to 20cm to create a strong base for future years.
In the second year, we allow some flowers to set and harvest about 800 grams of blueberries per plant. After fruiting, they are pruned again - whilst trying to maintain the shape of a wine glass.
Going forward, it’s the same routine year after year – growing, flowering, fruit, picking and pruning! As the plants get bigger they produce bigger, larger berries that are full of flavour for you to enjoy.