• Caption: Chatsworth House
    Caption: 'From Darkness to Light' Garden

    A big Thank You to all our existing and new customers who called to say hello and order more compost. An opportunity to see and feel our new, no feed ‘Wool Compost for Tomatoes’ and a fine display of tomatoes it has grown this year! Here’s a roundup of our highlights...

    …… listening to Martin Fish at the Dig In Theatre sharing his experience on getting started with growing fruit and vegetables. A writer, RHS judge and passionate about organic growing, Martin has been using Dalefoot Composts for a number of years. Visit Martin's website: www.martinfish.com

    …… watching families get their hands into our Wool Compost potting strawberries with RHS Master Grower – Pennard Plants

    ….. being inspired by the show garden designed by Lyn Heslop ‘From darkness to Light’ depicting her incredible journey following her diagnosis of cancer - dewberryhorticulture.com

    …… intrigued by Silver Gilt medal winners, Hogarth Hostas' very personal display of their National Collection of Small and Miniature Hostas flourishing in pots of Dalefoot Compost. We are very tempted to start our own collection! - www.hogarth-hostas.co.uk

    ……Gold medal winners Kevock Garden Plants' display of alpine, bog and woodland plants drew a very appreciative audience including Laura and Robin - www.kevockgarden.co.uk

    Join us at our next show – Woburn Abbey or we will see you at our RHS Hampton Court Stand where we will be talking peat free organic gardening and why it’s so important to make the change from peat-based products.

  • Caption: Cotton Grass
    Caption: Peatland restoration in action

    What is a peat bog? Peatbogs are wetlands composed of partially decomposed sphagnum moss and plants that builds over time – 1mm per year! Peat bogs form some of the world’s most scarce habitat and provide a unique home for a wealth of plants, animals and insects. Developed over thousands of years - peat contains vital and unique historical evidence of an area and its inhabitants.

    Why save them? Whilst breaking down plants, bogs lock up carbon however, mass harvesting for horticulture releases this carbon into the atmosphere, speeding up global warming and climate change. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ‘Ten million tonnes of carbon dioxide are lost to the atmosphere from the UK’s damaged peatlands each year.’

    Peatlands also help maintain water quality, and have a role to play in natural flood management and flood prevention.
    The recognition of the importance of peatlands is rapidly gaining momentum and recently the RHS released a statement declaring their aim of ceasing to sell peat-based products after 2019. Read their full statement here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/about-the-rhs/policies/rhs-statement-on-peat

    Today, growing media suppliers have developed a new generation of composts, specifically designed to replace peat and in some cases outperform peat.

    Now more than ever it is important that gardeners play their part by:

    • Only buy compost buy that has ‘peat-free’ on the packaging;
    • Choose plants that are grown in a peat-free compost,
    • Ask local retailers to stock peat-free products.

    But did you know that - as well as making one of the best peat free ranges of compost that Dalefoot Composts also restore thousands of hectares of damaged peatlands across the UK from the Scottish Cairngorms to the Dartmoor moors. Working for clients such as Natural England, The Yorkshire Peat Partnership and Cumbria Wildlife Trust we have built innovative machinery and techniques to restore both upland peat bogs and lowland mire to become active bogs once again.

    The picture to the left shows two of our team restoring a site the size of 1064 Olympic swimming pools using a technique where areas of bare peat are healed with turf from within the site. Erosion gully walls and peat hags are also re-profiled and covered with donor turf. As one of our operators said – ‘one of the best jobs in one of the best locations….’

  • 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.


  • 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:



  • 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!


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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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