• 29 March 2019

    Ready, set, sow!

    This week at our allotment in the northern Lake District, we have been begun sowing at last. We dusted off our garden plan that was made at the end of last year’s growing season (before we could forget where everything had been) and headed to the allotment.


    This year we are trialling a ‘no-dig’ approach in one area of our allotment. We top dressed the area with Dalefoot Wool Compost in the autumn and have left it untouched over the winter. We’ve been considering a ‘no-dig’ approach for a while as we would like to try and improve our soil health as well as taking the more physical aspect of digging out of the loop.


    First on the list, we planted onion sets bought from our local garden centre. We’ve never been overly successful with growing onions from seed which we’ve always put down to the short growing season we have up in the lakes. For us, growing onions is such a staple that we really want the crop to do well so we always stump up that extra cost to get the onion sets and plant directly into the ground.


    As well as the onions, we planted broad beans direct into the ground. We would normally have also planted our main crop of potatoes this week, however due to a number of blight problems over the past few years, we have decided to give the potatoes a miss this year to give us time to research an organic anti-blight strategy.


    Elsewhere in the garden, we’ve started our seeds in trays for the legumes, tomatoes and first sowing of sweet peas. Other jobs have included repairing the planks which line our beds and re-applying woodchip onto our garden paths.


    We’ve already enjoyed our first picking of rhubarb and our purple sprouting broccoli, swedes and leeks are still keeping us going from last year.

    Laura

  • 11 February 2019

    We're perfect for tomatoes!

    Caption: Big Daddy
    Caption: Consuelo
    Caption: Honeycombe
    Caption: Shimmer

    Garden writer and horticulturalist Beth Otway has been busy. She’s been growing lots of different tomato varieties in our compost to test their health and productivity both in pots and in trial beds. Having spent last spring and summer sowing, potting on and planting out she’s grown everything from tiny cherry tomatoes through to big beefsteaks;

    ‘…all of the tomatoes that were grown for this trial were grown in Dalefoot Composts. Dalefoot Composts have so far been the top performers in all of my compost trials to date.’


    During last year's hot summer, Beth even had to deal with a broken watering tap;
    ‘I was away from home for a week, so none of my tomato plants were watered during this week. Remarkably, when I returned home, my tomato plants (each potted up individually in very small plastic pots) were all still alive!’

    Beth puts this down to the sheeps wool that we add to our compost and the way it can hold and retain moisture without actually waterlogging the plants.;

    ‘Dalefoot Composts are formulated from natural ingredients, including sheep's wool, which is incredibly water retentive, allowing this range of composts to hold on to more water than any of the other composts I have trialled.

    Her trial is full of useful hints and tips for growers including good watering practices deterring slugs and snails through to taste tests. There are lots of pictures of the different varieties she trialled from stripy to purple and reviews of how the tomatoes actually taste;

    ‘Honeycomb is a cherry tomato with an intense flavor, it’s so sweet with a great balance of acidity. This is a juicy little tomato, the fruits have a paper-thin skin, which dissolves in your mouth.’

    Consuelo’ is a sweet tasting tomato with a greater degree of acidity. This tomato has a sweet, but firm earthy flavour, with a distinct tang and hint of pepperiness….these tomatoes make a satisfying crunch as you bite into the fruit.’

    There’s plenty of inspiration here to get your thoughts turning to the coming sowing and planting season and perhaps trying a new variety of tomato, just make sure you factor in using Dalefoot Composts as the perfect growing medium for the most delicious results!

     

    Enjoy Pumpkin Beth's full trial here:

     

    https://www.pumpkinbeth.com/2019/02/tomato-trial/

  • The Soil Association has officially approved our entire range of peat free composts making it even easier for eco-conscious gardeners who want to organically grow their fruit, vegetables and blooms. The Soil Association is the UK’s largest organic certification body with over 70 years’ experience and its organic standards are recognised as being the best in the world.

    Our loyal customers already know that our peat-free composts are packed with all-natural ingredients that grow fantastic plants so it’s wonderful that our range now meets the Soil Association’s strict production standards and can proudly display the logo. This is one of the many reasons to use Dalefoot Composts.

    Why is organic growing so important? Organic means working with nature. It means more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment, which benefits wildlife. Know what is in your food and that means knowing what it is grown in.

    Achieving Soil Association certification endorses the premium quality Dalefoot Composts has always offered. The unique benefits include:
    · High levels of natural potash from the bracken promotes flowering and fruiting, healthy growth and hearty crops.
    · Wool provides a slow, steady, sustained supply of nitrogen.
    · NO need for any additional plant food - Our range will feed for the first season and beyond.
    · Natural water retention of wool fibres means up to 50% less watering.
    · Made in the Lake District from 100% renewable resources with great environmental benefits.
    · Our peat free compost has a similar soft texture to peat and has a wide range of naturally occurring trace elements for good plant health.

    Start growing organically!

  • Caption: Dalefoot on the left, John Innes on the right
    Caption: Pauline, Simon, Margaret and David

    Winter is truly upon us at Dalefoot, and with frosty mornings and the first sign of snow this weekend there is little else for gardeners to see other than blossoming snowdrops.


    In 2017 we visited Margaret and David MacLennan - Plant Heritage National Collection Holders for Galanthus (snowdrops). Their collection has “scientific” status in recognition of the special contribution that it makes to the conservation of the Galanthus genus. They have more than 1700 different varieties of 21 species of snowdrops, growing in frames in their garden at their home in Carlisle. This is an endlessly fascinating display of varying patterns, markings, shapes and sizes.


    After meeting us at RHS Hampton Court they started a trial planting some of their prestigious snowdrops in our compost (a mix of Lakeland Gold, Wool Compost and grit) to compare with their conventional growing medium of John Innes mix. Half the bulbs were potted in Dalefoot and half in John Innes then sunk side by side in a sand frame.

    Little difference was observed in the first year, though just possibly the plants grown in the Dalefoot composts were slightly ahead in size perhaps reflecting the higher nutritional content of the mixture. Two years on however and the difference is clear. “We have seen earlier shoots, stronger and bigger growth and more plants per pot." said Mr & Mrs MacLennon. The collection is watered via rainfall and only John Innes pots have additional food added – not required for Dalefoot pots. Margaret and David also expect to find better quality bulbs when they dig them up for re-potting this summer.

    Growing tips:
    Most gardeners will have a place for snowdrops and there must be a snowdrop for everyone!
    The best time to plant snowdrops is when they are freshly-dug, either when the foliage is dying back in late spring on ‘in the green’ just after flowering.
    Aim for a moist, well-drained planting pit
    Incorporate a mix of Wool Compost and Lakeland Gold
    Await your first sign that spring is on the way

    Here's what happened 2 years ago...

  • Trees in a new nature reserve in Ambleside are getting the best start in life thanks to Dalefoot teaming up with the University of Cumbria.

    We have played a part in the planting of 105 silver birch, rowan and hazel saplings in the new reserve which have all now been top dressed with our Lakeland Gold. Dalefoot loves to take part in environmental projects and support the local community so we jumped at the chance to play a small role in this wonderful project.

    Armed with waterproofs and wellies, shovels and spades 25 forestry and conservation students, friends and lecturers set off in the drizzle to turn a piece of redundant land owned by the University of Cumbria near the Ambleside campus into the new woodland.

    Also helping was Honorary Fellow - John Fryer-Spedding, past president of the Royal Forestry Society and founder of the Calvert Trust. The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) is an educational charity dedicated to promoting the wise management of trees and woodlands.

    The woodland will unofficially be known as MacGilrea Wood, named in Gaelic after Joshua Gilroy who organised the project. University of Cumbria student Joshua, applied for the saplings from the Woodland Trust as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy global forest conservation initiative.

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© Barker and Bland Ltd t/a Dalefoot Composts 2014 - 2019. 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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