Here at Gravetye we have a fruit cage devoted entirely to blueberries. This is not only as they are a superb crop, which the chefs really love, but also as they need special conditions in which to grow. Blueberries need the soil to be acidic in order to thrive and as most of the Kitchen Garden soil is alkaline we have created their own acidic area for them. One of the ways in which we keep the pH of the soil optimum for them is by mulching the fruit cage with pine needles. As these rot down they release acidic compounds into the soil, naturally reducing the pH without us having to use chemicals or other environmentally sensitive products such as peat. The added bonus of using these fir needles is that, as we garden in the middle of 1000 acres of forestry commission woodland, there is a plentiful supply within yards of the Kitchen Garden. By adding a thick mulch like this it also helps control the weeds in the fruit cage, thus reducing the amount of time we spend in there during the busy Summer months.