Arabella Country Estate Home Owners Association ( news.php

By: Arabella Country Estate  11-11-2011

Landscaping Committee – Easy way to boost plant growth
As we move slowly towards spring and warmer weather, there is the promise of new growth and the bountiful Overberg flourishing again, writes Gwen Bisseker for the Landscaping Committee. Arabella may be part of this beautiful land, but unfortunately the soil on the estate needs help in providing the nourishment many plants need.

In the search for a product to boost plant growth and improve the quality of our soil, a useful pointer comes from Ernst van Jaarsveld, curator of the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. On a recent visit to Arabella, he mentioned the good results he had achieved with the commercial product, Bounce Back, which is a blend of organic fertiliser and natural minerals. "We had flowers where they had never bloomed before," he said.

Bounce Back, which is widely available from garden centres, is made from manure, one of nature's oldest and most natural fertilisers.

The product is composted and steam treated to ensure it is pathogen and weed free. It is then made into pellets for easier and cleaner handling. The manufacturer, Neutrog, says Bounce Back works by releasing essential nutrients slowly into the soil, stimulating microbiological activity and thus making further nutrients available to the plants. It also helps the development of healthy, well-structured soils. It promotes microbial and earthworm activity, which bind soil particles together to improve soil structure. This allows roots to grow unrestricted in a nutrient-rich environment, says Neutrog. It can be used, as directed on the bags, for newly-planted and established trees, flowerbeds and shrubs – in spring and autumn.

Bounce Back can also be used on lawns, but there is a sister product, Blade Runner, especially for this purpose. It is said to be an ideal food for all lawns, being particularly suitable for new lawns and summer applications on established lawns, where the slow release properties help prevent thatch build up.

Neutrog says Blade Runner promotes natural, healthy plant growth, unlike chemical lawn fertilisers which produce upward growth over a shorter period.

Applications of organic fertilisers also have a positive impact in winter, when the improved soil structure helps with drainage and encourages root growth, the company says.