• 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.

  • We're so pleased to have been featured in the latest issue of LandScape magazine. Read about the story of Dalefoot Farm, where we found our inspiration for making peat-free compost and the work we carry out on peat bogs. There are beautiful pictures of the farm, Jane and Simon and even little Minty! We're featured on pages 114-120. Thank you LandScape magazine!

  • 01 November 2018

    The Good Life

    Caption: Broad Beans, Runner Beans, Beetroot, Bell Courgette and Sweet Peas
    Caption: The Veg Patch
    Caption: Broccoli and Cauliflower
    Caption: Planning For Next Year

    I step out the back door and stomp through the garden gate into the quiet frostiness of my veg patch. It is just after half past 6 on a cold night in 2013 and we have friends over for dinner. Wearing wellies and a head torch and carrying a basket and trowel, I make my way over to the parsnips and the carrots to pull some out the ground for dinner. I fill my basket with 4 enormous parsnips and 6 weird looking carrots. I make my way back across the garden and into the house where I proudly show off the soil covered vegetables to our friends and promptly set about preparing them for our meal.

    And the big question - what makes them taste all the sweeter? Is it the pride and joy of growing them myself? Or is it knowing that they have virtually no carbon footprint and have been grown completely organically?

    We started off quite small, wanting to have a go at growing our favourites and the easier things to grow: potatoes, strawberries, onions, carrots, parsnips, garlic, leeks, radishes, blackcurrants and gooseberries. However, this has now evolved to growing more of our favourites but also the more expensive vegetables, ensuring variety and continuous supply of fresh fruit and veg throughout the year (for instance, in order to have strawberries for as long as possible we grow an early variety, a main crop and a later variety to ensure maximum strawberry eating for as long as possible). There is nothing quite like the thrill and pride at watching your own vegetables grow and then enjoying the fruits (and veg) of all your hard work.

    Gardening, for us, has become an activity we can do together as a couple and learn about together. We have learnt from our mistakes, and continue to make new mistakes every season. We have learnt more about preserving food when we have gluts, and about planning our meals based on what comes out of the garden. We have learnt so many different ways to eat courgettes and broad beans you wouldn’t believe! Eating broad beans every day for 3 weeks can get awfully boring, but we now look forward to the seasonality of our vegetables and associate certain times of year with what will be coming out of the garden. We have not only become more aware of the seasons through the year, but more connected to the natural environment and the weather as we plan different jobs and tasks to be completed – because who does like weeding in the rain?!

    I hope I’ve been able to inspire you to pledge that you will have a go at growing vegetables next year. You’ve got 4 months from now until the growing season begins to do your research and get started (seeds need ordering in January)…It really is so easy to experience a little bit of “The Good Life”.

    Laura – Dalefoot Farm

  • Cobwebs appeared on the box hedge bordering our apple trees this week. The webs were picked out in dew and have, of course, been there for weeks but invisible in the warm weather. The cooler damp air brings on thoughts of making apple crumble from our crop. Back in spring we planted a tree called Keswick Coddling which is a variety local to our area. It's an apple that is pale green, matt rather than shiny and rather oblong in shape. I can see why it might not be the first choice if there was room for just one apple tree in a garden. However, the label, which is still attached, says it cooks to a lovely creamy texture and requires hardly any sugar so I decided to use these apples for a first crumble. It's claims with regard to requiring less sugar I took with some scepticism having taken a bite out of one of the seven or so fruits on the new tree. However, to my delight, the apples do cook to a frothy cream and need less added sugar than Bramleys which I usually reserve for crumbles. Then there's thoughts of toffee apples way ahead in Autumn...it's not so bad the end of summer and the start of a new season after all....

    To ensure next years harvest, I like to give the trees a treat and make sure they have everything they need for over-wintering. To do this, we mulch them with Lakeland Gold having first cleared the long grass from around the base of each trunk and apply about two inches of the good stuff. It's my way of saying 'thank you' as we harvest the apples and enjoy the fruits of our joint labours.

    Juliet, Dalefoot Farm

  • 10 September 2018

    Is your garden 'Autumn ready'?

    With Autumn setting in, now is the time to plant your bulbs for next Spring. Whether its Daffodils, Crocus or Lillies, our carbon neutral Bulb Compost will create the perfect growing medium for your bulbs. It boasts the ideal blend of free draining compost with natural, must-have nutrients and trace elements, to grow dazzling flowers and to feed the bulb to restore its reserves for the following year. The bracken from the Cumbrian fells also gives it the perfect open structure.

    Bulb Compost - How to use

    Pots and containers

    * Place a layer of crocks at the bottom of your pot or container.

    * Add a layer of Dalefoot Bulb Compost to a good depth (10cm if possible), to allow good root growth.

    * Arrange bulbs-up to a bulbs distance apart-then add another 10cm layer of bulb compost.

    * Water after planting & continue to water for six weeks after flowering. The compost should feel moist to the touch but not wet.


    * Prepare the ground- remove weeds and add Dalefoot Bulb Compost to the planting pit- which should be 3-4 times as deep as the bulb itself.

    * Cover generously with bulb compost.

    * Mark the place of planting with a beautiful label to prevent disappointment in the future.

    * If you have squirrels in your garden- plant deeper!

    Top Tip- Try layering your bulbs for a beautiful display.

    Remember that bulbs with indents e.g. Fritillaria, need to be planted on their side- the stem will find its way up to the light.


    Do you have any tips or stories about using our Bulb Compost? Let us know by leaving us a comment below.


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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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