Dahlia Field

Our primary Regeneration Project.

When I first started growing Dahlias I never envisioned the obsession they'd become.

This is the story of my field of dreams.

Work began in May 2021 with site clearance and 40 tons of organic topsoil was delivered. Weather went against us, with incessant rain, heavy machinery and bare soil compaction was inevetable.

Dahlia Field before cultivation

Multiple moves of top soil, heavy machinery with waterlogged conditions and it doesn't take long for the little bit of life that was left in the soil to be crushed. it was like planting into concrete.


It rained for most of May resulting in a soggy mess with surface and 6in depth compaction layers. Tuber planting was delayed and only 8 of the 10 beds got planted. By the end of July it was a sea of early successional weeds with the tuber shoots barely visible above them.

FYI disturbed soil is a seed bank exposed to sunlight and moisture and being bacterially dominated, this selects for these type of plants because bacteria need more nitrate whereas fungi need more ammonium.

beds lined out in dahlia field

My field of dreams was rapidly turning into my worst nightmare and compounded by my back giving way, I was emotionally and physically broken.

I reached out on social media and the outpouring of help and support simply blew me away. With short notice the most incredible bunch of willing helpers descended on the farm to clear the weeds and give the dahlias so much needed light to grow.

sea of weeds

As was to be expected, the dahlia field did not thrive in 2021, but every cloud has a silver lining and my heartbreak soon turned to gratitude because this place could and would become a teaching garden where others could witness and learn how to garden and farm in tune with nature, experience the wonders of the symbiotic relationships with the above and below ground organisms and free themselves from the tyranny of unnecessary applications of products that more often than not create the problems they're trying to get rid of.

dahlia field 2021

2022 weather wise was the opposite to 2021, drought and heatwaves were the order of the day.

Knowing pests and diseases starve on healthy plants and healthy plants can only grow in healthy soil that ahs all the microbes present is one thing but getting a handle on what exactly they were and how many needed to be there for this to function optimally was something I needed to get to grips with.

After much deliberation in January 2022 I finally enrolled in Dr Elaine Ingham's soil food web school and thus began the most incredible journey into the world beneath our feet.

Dahlia field August 2022