• Jane Bingham receiving our compost for the Remember Me Garden at Tatton Flower Show 2017

    A RHS Tatton Park show garden highlighting the impact of dementia on both patients and their families, is getting a peat free helping hand from Dalefoot Composts.

    Designed by Jane Bingham and Penny Hearne of The Cheshire Garden, the ‘Remember Me’ Garden for Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity, will be one of the feature exhibits at the show which runs from 19-23 July. Plants and containers in the charity garden will be planted using peat free Wool Compost and Lakeland Gold, donated by Dalefoot.

    The garden will aim to create a ‘home from home’ outdoor space where people with dementia or a cognitive impairment can enjoy the freedom to be themselves. It will educate and inform visitors of the journey that someone with dementia takes, from first diagnosis through to potentially, 24-hour care.

    Jane Bingham met Dalefoot Composts at the Landscape Show last year. “I’m grateful for the donation as the compost will help the plants establish themselves on the garden. We’ve received fantastic support from so many companies,” she said.

    Show visitors will experience a memory shed called the ‘Room of Inklings’, created by RAW-i Studios, containing items in glass containers, such as sea shells, old seed packets, marbles and garden tools, designed to spark memories by representing the past and happy times during childhood. The planting will mirror the deterioration of the mind – at one side large colourful drifts with nods to the 1960s and 70s, with planting gradually becoming more faded and muddled, ending in a completely mixed up wildflower meadow.

    The charity garden at RHS Tatton Park will support MCH Charity's new 'Everybody knows Somebody' Dementia Appeal which aims to raise £1.5 million to provide environmental enhancements to the wards and departments at Leighton Hospital caring for people with dementia or other cognitive impairment.

  • After the driest winter in over 20 years, and our summer now hotting up, could we be heading for a water shortage? If you’re looking to bag clever ideas to drought-proof your garden, check out these five eco tips from peat free compost maker Dalefoot Composts.

    1. Invest in a water butt now. Even better buy two! Securely attach them to your home’s downpipes to harvest precious, and free, rainwater from your roof. Why not erect some basic guttering around your garden shed or greenhouse to capture the rain from those too?

    2. Try out bottle gardening! Cut the bottom off a large plastic bottle and bury it upside down, without its top, into the soil next to your prized plants. Fill the bottle with water and let the hydration reach the plants’ roots first.

    3. Take a leaf out of early 20th century gardening books and use the natural ‘hygroscopic’ properties of wool to trap water. Dalefoot’s Wool Compost contains sheep’s wool and so does exactly that, keeping moist for longer and helping gardeners save water. The compost also contains bracken, and combined with wool, the all-natural ingredients release a steady stream of nitrogen and other must-have nutrients to feed the plants over the growing season, so no further feed is required. Genius!

    4. Mulch, mulch, mulch – use either a peat free top dressing, like Dalefoot’s Lakeland Gold (which also busts troublesome clay soil), or place a layer of gravel or stones onto the surface of soil in pots and containers. This will stop water from evaporating. The deeper the mulch, the more effective it will be.

    5. Waste not, want not - If it’s really dry, place a large saucer underneath garden pots when you water them, so there’s no wasted H2O. It’s also wise to place containers together in a shaded spot in the garden.

    Environmental scientist Dr Jane Barker, who runs Dalefoot Composts, said: “The key to keeping plants blooming if the weather is dry, is to water once but well. By following these basic tips, you’d be amazed the difference it will make to parched plants.

    “One of the reasons we use wool in our composts is the fantastic water-retention qualities it has. An added bonus is the wool is packed with nutrients like nitrogen which is perfect for feeding plants,” she added.

  • Veg Compost

    - Dalefoot Composts - Stand CHW258 RHS Chatsworth –

    Wool from the rare Whitefaced Woodland sheep breed, native of the Peak District and Pennine Hills, is the secret ingredient in an innovative peat free compost range being exhibited at RHS Chatsworth this week. The Whitefaced Woodland ram even stars on the front of each bag of Dalefoot compost.

    Dalefoot Composts mixes Woodland wool with that of another upland hill breed, the Lake District Herdwick, into its compost. The wool is then combined with bracken to form the peat free compost recipe, giving an ideal, nutrient-fuelled mix for growing vegetables, fruit, plants and shrubs.

    For gardeners, benefits of wool in the compost include:
    • Natural water retention of wool fibres means up to 50% less watering.
    • Wool provides a steady, slow sustained supply of nitrogen for plants.
    • When mixed with bracken, which has high levels of natural potash so promotes flowering and fruiting, results in healthy growth and hearty crops - NO need for any additional plant food.
    • Made from 100% renewable resources with great environmental benefits.
    • The compost has a similar soft texture to peat and has a wide range of naturally occurring trace elements for good plant health.

    Simon Bland of Dalefoot Composts said: “The provenance of the wool we use in our compost is top notch from two iconic, hill breeds of sheep. Both of them also play an important role in maintaining the landscapes of two of Britain’s iconic national parks. Wool has the most fantastic qualities when used in compost – water retention and nutrients. You can’t beat it.”

    With composts for container growing, flowers, vegetables, shrubs, seeds and ericaceous plants, the Wool Compost range has a solution for every gardening need. The range is available online at www.dalefootcomposts.co.uk from £10.99 per bag down to £7.50 each for orders of 50 bags plus delivery, and also from a growing list of stockists.

    Wool Compost is made on a 120-acre family farm at Dalefoot in the Lake District fells by farmer Simon Bland and environmental scientist Jane Barker, using Whitefaced Woodlands’ wool from their own flock and the Herdwick ‘wool-clip’ of neighbouring hill farmers. As well as helping the growing number of gardeners who want to switch to peat free, the compost finds a novel use for British wool - good news for struggling sheep farmers.

    The use of bracken in Wool Compost is also beneficial. The spread of this aggressive, waist-high plant makes grazing difficult and impacts upon native species. Composted it boasts high levels of natural potash, essential for fruiting and flowering. A win for nature lovers and gardeners alike.

  • Dalefoot Composts celebrating 20 years in business

    PEAT FREE compost maker Dalefoot Composts, celebrating 20 years in business at this week’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, has seen a big spike in sales this season as gardeners shift to green growing.

    Sales of its premium composts, made from sheep’s wool and bracken, have doubled in the last year showing gardeners are really waking up to the benefits of gardening more sustainably. Now used by commercial growers, gold medal-winning flower and veg exhibitors and a growing flock of gardeners around the UK, Dalefoot’s peat free range boasts composts for container growing, flowers, vegetables, shrubs, seeds and acid-loving plants.

    Owner Simon Bland said: “We’ve seen our sales double in the last year which is proof that gardeners want to garden more ethically and really do care about the quality of products they use on their allotment, back garden or balcony.”

    The entrepreneurial couple behind Dalefoot, environmental scientist Jane Barker and farmer Simon Bland, started making compost from the natural ingredients around their Cumbrian farm in 1997. Inspired by early 20th century gardening books that mentioned wool as a garden mulch, and a desire to make good use of the invasive bracken growing on the fells, the couple invented their secret compost recipe, bagged the product up themselves and started selling at local farmers’ markets. Twenty years later the compost is sold across the UK, been shortlisted for RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden Product of the Year* and has just featured on BBC Two’s Back to the Land programme. The business employs 18 local people, and sources bracken and wool from local farmers.

    Growing benefits of the compost include:
    • Natural water retention of wool fibres means up to 50% less watering.
    • Wool provides a steady, slow sustained supply of nitrogen.
    • High levels of natural potash from the bracken promotes flowering and fruiting, healthy growth and hearty crops - NO need for any additional plant food.
    • Made from 100% renewable resources with great environmental benefits.
    • The compost has a similar soft texture to peat and has a wide range of naturally occurring trace elements for good plant health.

    Notes for editors:
    * Wool Compost for Seeds was shortlisted for the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden Product of the Year.

  • Caption: Unloved pot bound azalea
    Caption: Azalea pruned and repotted with Ericaceous Wool Compost
    Caption: Azalea in flower after pruning and repotting.

    Making the best use of the ingredients nature gives us from around our Cumbrian farm is integral to how we run our business at Dalefoot.

    Our peat free composts are rich with the wool from our flock and those of our neighbours, and the bracken harvested from the local fells. We tweak our different compost recipes so they suit the plants they will nurture and nourish.

    Our Wool Compost for Seeds has a finer texture with good drainage to provide the best start for seeds; our Wool Compost Double Strength contains a high concentration of naturally derived nutrients, if you like our equivalent of ‘compost max’, so it can be mixed with soil or spent compost. And so on…

    Acid-loving plants, such as blueberries, heathers and azaleas, need a compost with a lower pH. We therefore harvest bracken for our Wool Compost Ericaceous from the more acidic areas of the fells. And it works a treat.

    One of our Dalefoot team owned a pot-bound, unloved azalea desperately needing some TLC. Over the years, it had become straggly and faded. By pruning it back hard after flowering, and replacing most of the old compost with our Wool Compost Ericaceous, the plant is now thriving once again. Isn’t nature clever.

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© Barker and Bland Ltd t/a Dalefoot Composts 2014 - 2017. All rights reserved.
Barker and Bland is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Dalefoot Farm, Heltondale, Nr Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2QL. Registered number: 8312959

This project is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

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