The Devon Blueberry Company
– the story so far
In 2016 I moved back to Devon and bought a house with my husband and 3-year old daughter. The catch was that it came with a blueberry field and so I formed ‘The Devon Blueberry Company’ and set about producing delicious blueberries in a sustainable fashion.
Not content to make things easy, I was 8 months pregnant and we have now been joined by a second little girl. Fittingly, we have named our 2 blueberry nets after our girls, Florence and Sylvie…. it’s just a shame they don’t help with the work!!
In 2018 we added our first ‘blueberry dog’ – Minnie the Newfoundland. She is lovely and stubborn in equal measure, and I think will be as useless as Florence and Sylvie at helping out!
Each year our crop varies in abundance, impacted by some very dry springs and some very hungry caterpillars. Some of our varieties cope with heat really well and thrive, others are less than impressed, even with the best efforts of our well and irrigation system!
During the 2020/2021 winter we have planted over 350 new plants. We’ve introduced 3 new varieties – Liberty, MegasBlue and Titanium. The MegasBlues and Titaniums are very young plants and have been a welcome addition to the resident field voles who have been nibbling them! So I am now trying to protect them with old cut down milk and squash bottles – the field looks a little odd, but it appears to be working! These new plants will probably not properly fruit for another 3 years, hopefully it will be worth the wait!
Blueberries are a ‘super food’ and make a great part of a healthy diet. They work with smoothies, on cereals, in pancakes, cakes, ice cream or simply on their own. They even work in Champagne! As the crop starts fruiting I will be trying out various blueberry recipes and posting my favourite on this website.
Rich in antioxidants, e.g. vitamin C which is good for fighting diseases, keeping skin healthy and boosting the immune system. The flavonoids strengthen blood capillaries and improves circulation.
Our Blueberry Plants
Our Farm now has 11 varieties of mostly highbush blueberry bushes and, while the plants are self-fertile, they benefit hugely from cross-pollination which increases the size of the berries, as well as the yield and the speed of ripening (which in turn influences their taste).
Our plants start to fruit in July and finish usually mid September, but it is all a bit weather dependant. We supply them mixed in a punnet to give a range of sweetness and tanginess. Due to the mix of varieties, the flavours will vary throughout the season – no two punnets will be the same.
Our Farm has the following blueberry varieties
Bluetta – a very early season soft berry of medium size and mild flavour. Although a smaller plant, they are still regarded as a highbush variety with a wide spread.
Bluecrop – ripening in mid-season, these large berries have a dark colour and aromatic taste.
Chandler – without doubt, the biggest of all the berries. Large, sweet and juicy, they arrive late in the season and make a great compliment to Elliotts.
Darrow – very large fruit arrives late in September with a firmness, tartness and quality that is ideal in puddings and cakes.
Duke – a highly prized variety that ripens early and produces a large, sweet fruit of a dark colour.
Elliott – very late arrivals, especially after a cool summer but meaning we can enjoy them that little bit later and possibly even in to October. A medium-sized fruit with a mild flavour, they are known as being ‘good for puds’!
Liberty – Are a late fruiting, paler blue blueberry that are slightly flattened looking, with a juicy taste.
MegasBlue – An Oregon bred blueberry with a large size berry, fruiting in the middle of the Summer.
Pink Lemonade – the name speaks for itself! Vaccinium Pink Lemonade blueberries are in fact pink! They are super sweet, arrive mi-late in the season and are newly introduced to the UK. Indeed we believe we will be the first supplier in Devon!
Spartan – a very large fruit arriving early in the season. Although the canopy has larger leaves, a tall bush means the height aids sunlight penetration resulting in a sapphire blue berry.
Titanium – a brand new variety from Oregon in the USA. They should be an early fruiter, have a sweet-tart flavour and keep really well.
Acidic soil compliments blueberry growth and ours has been tested and shown to be ideal. We supplement the natural goodness in the ground with ericaceous compost and a specially formulated ‘blueberry special’ feed developed by renowned crop production specialists, Hutchinson’s, in partnership with Solufeed.
We do not use chemicals such as pesticides and instead rely on a combination of weed control matting, strimming, good old fashioned weeding and sawdust to suppress weeds and optimise healthy blueberry plant growth. It’s a very ‘hands-on’ process to grow and pick our blueberries.