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:

1 comment

  • Susan Farrow

    23 May 2019, 12.24pm

    I strongly support your initiative. Beth Otway is local to us and I read about the compost in her article in the monthly Vantage Point magazine. I have read James Rebanks' book and loved it but I'm aware of the difficulty nowadays of making a living from sheep farming especially with the wool from Herdwick sheep. You have found an imaginative way of using it profitably and I am about to place an order for my tomatoes this year. Kate Humble did a good TV series on new ways of making traditional farming pay - I wonder if she might be making another? Congratulations and best of luck.


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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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