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Dalefoot composts- The ericaceous trial!

img 2535 1 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!

img 2534 6 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!Finding a good peat free seed compost is hard enough but to find one for growing acid loving plants is even harder! I was lucky enough to be given a bag of this to try and it has been waiting until the spring for me to start my little trial. Like the seed compost, this will be tried over the next year or so, not just in one plant but over a range of different plants and growing habits.

img 2538 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!So what is Dalefoot compost and what makes it so special? Well it’s a compost based on an old Victorian recipe that incorporates well rotten bracken and sheeps wool from Herdwick sheep. This produces a compost that holds water well but is also free draining. The compost is also contains potash and slow release nitrogen, as well as trace levels of iron and magnesium. The bracken is harvested in rotation from the Lake District while the wool is from the sheep that live on the hillside. The bracken used for the Ericaceous is taken from the acidic areas in the fells.

img 2537 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!

This compost is supposed to be ideal for blueberries, so as my children love blueberries, I decided to buy a couple in a large fruit order I put in too R V Rogers, so on Saturday afternoon with my little hampers helpers, I potted them on into the compost.

img 2540 1 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!img 2543 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!img 2541 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!Like the seed compost, it was soft to the feel and nice and springy. I tried squeezing it and it formed a nice sausage that broke down finely once touched.

img 2544 Dalefoot composts  The ericaceous trial!

So they are now potted up and let’s see what happens,

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Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

img 2250 1 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

img 2249 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

Heard a little bit about Dalefoot composts both in the gardening press and also online, I was really keen to get an up close look at the produce. It is indeed an old Victorian recipe of composted bracken and sheeps wool, yes you did read that right, composted sheeps wool, not an average day to day compost ingredient is it. Dalefoot Compost is based up in Lake District on a traditional hill farm, Simon is a 5th generation farm while Sally is a Environmental scientist, they started on this project in around 2000. Bracken is a big problem for the hillside farmers, a left over from the time the hills where forests. Bracken causes problems both to existing plants and grass. It is a problem I have seen and spoken to wardens about in the past in woodlands near me. So it is a great way to reduce the spread of bracken and also a way to use up unwanted sheep wool that doesn’t either make the mark or isn’t required. The wool adds moisture retention slow nitrogen release to the compost while the bracken is potash rich and rots down to produce a fine compost. So it sounds a great way to produce a ecological sound compost.

img 2258 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingI wasn’t too sure what to expect when I first saw it but it does look like a good quality compost, fine, dark in colour, a great feel when rubbing it though your fingers, a great deal of sponginess when squashing it in your hand, yes I was a little impressed.

img 2263 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingNow I prefer to use peat in some form when sowing seeds, I have found that looks based ones can hold too much water for me , coir doesn’t hold enough so I am always look for another peat free compost for sowing seeds and my little brain is thinking it maybe the right product to replace peat with.

img 2250 1 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

The lovely people at Dalefoot compost sent me a few bags to try it out, I decided on the seed mix, ericaceous and wool compost to try out

img 2252 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is starting

So I started with the seed and cutting mix the other day and sowed a few pots of salad crops for the vegetable garden at a client house. I found the information on the pack very clear and easy to follow

img 2260 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingimg 2261 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingimg 2263 1 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingimg 2264 Dalefoot composts, the seed trial is startingAs I found at the show, the compost felt right for a seed mix, so I filled up a few pots and firmed it down, sowed the seeds and watered and tbh I couldn’t tell it wasn’t a peatfree compost, it behaved just as I would like it too. Not matter how it felt, the proof is in the growing so will shall see how the germination rate goes and also how the little seedlings cope until they get potted on. In the next blog in a few weeks time, I shall have a look at how well they have germinated and of course how easy they are to prick out and pot on

A 12litre bag will cost you 7.99

For more information on Dalefoot Compost please look at their website at