In 2014, we began to diversify into organic blueberries for commercial sales. Blueberries grow very well in boggy, acid soil and like plenty of rainfall and don’t mind the cold; they are well suited to the conditions at Derry Duff. It has been a lot of work to prepare the marginal land for optimal blueberry production; planting windbreaks, removing rocks, installing drainage, creating raised beds, nurturing the plants from plugs in pots, as well as building a reservoir and connecting it to an irrigation and fertigation system, which drip feeds every plant. We have now established about three acres of blueberry fields and are creating more every year. There is a long lead time in producing fruit, but the bushes have already provided enough fruit to supply local shops in the past two years, with yields expected to increase exponentially.
Blueberries are fairly delicate plants and vulnerable to weed competition. To suppress weed growth, we use ramial woodchip (chipped smaller twigs and leaves, rather than trunk) that has an ideal carbon-nitrogen ratio for decomposition. To help the plants absorb nutrients, we inoculate each one with ericaceous mycorraeze before planting. These fungi live both within the plant roots and within the soil, greatly increasing the roots absorptive area thereby enhancing nutritional uptake. We conduct yearly leaf tests to ensure that we use the correct balance of organic fertiliser to optimally nourish the plants. We apply this fertiliser through a fertigation system delivered to each plant, targeted precisely at the roots. This minimises fertiliser consumption. The fertiliser we use is a highly diluted organic amino acid that is easily absorbed and the high level of dilution avoids damaging the soil microbial and fungal life.
As well as being delicious, blueberries have amazing health benefits; being high in polyphenols; plant immune compounds that have been shown to prevent a wide range of diseases associated with metabolic syndrome. Blueberries are particularly rich in a class of polyphenols called anthocyanins that have been shown to optimise glucose metabolism, improve the ratio of good to bad fat in the blood and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The polyphenols in blueberries also have marked antibacterial and anti-viral effects and in the same way as cranberries can improve urinary tract health.
By purchasing Irish grown blueberries rather than those from further afield, the time from farm to fridge is greatly reduced and you can literally taste the difference! People frequently comment that the flavour from our Irish fresh organic blueberries is far tastier than those imported. As well as being delicious eaten fresh, they freeze perfectly – they don’t clump together when frozen and so can be taken direct from the freezer to eat as a frozen snack or used on muesli, porridge or yoghurt, in smoothies or in baked cakes and muffins.
The blueberry harvest runs from late July through to early October and the berries are sold from retail outlets in Bantry and the surrounding area. Please contact us, if your business is interested in purchasing organic, Irish blueberries or if you would like to purchase berries in 1kg boxes (ideal for freezing), collecting directly from the farm. We currently only have sufficient quantities to meet demand in the West Cork area and are not set up for courier deliveries. However in years to come as the plants grow and the yields increase we hope to offer nationwide delivery. If you are interested in growing your own blueberries, we have several varieties of mature plants for sale.
Cuibin, Derry Duff, Bantry, Co. Cork, P75 PD60, Ireland | +353 87 8540586