5 20160524_1105022 20160524_1104111 IMG_01041 20160524_110736KELPAK® LIQUID SEAWEED FERTILISER
Our gardeners were thrilled to be given this uniquely South African product which, as it contains natural growth hormones, is sure to make their plants grow bigger and be more productive. It is obtained from the giant Ecklonia maxima  kelp, or seaweed, sustainably harvested off the coast near Cape Point.
Kelpak contains several beneficial plant stimulating compounds as well as macro and micro elements and is manufactured by a proprietary process which while bursting the cells from which a natural, liquid seaweed concentrate is extracted preserves the delicate natural elements contained in the cells.
When applied, as a foliar feed or soil drench to plants, the auxin-like activity stimulates prolific adventitious root formation. The increase in root tips – which is where a group of hormones known as cytokinins are produced – leads to an increased level of cytokinins in treated plants Cytokinins promote cell division and plays a role in plant foliar growth.
The increased root volume and number of root tips also increases moisture and nutrient uptake from the soil. The increase in nutrients together with the higher level of auxins and cytokinin in the plant also makes the top, above ground, part of the plant grow.  This in turn results in increased yields and better quality plants.  The improved root system also makes the plant more resistant to stresses such as drought, water logging, soil nutrient deficiency and salinity, nematode infestations and soil borne diseases.




Carol’s vegetable garden

basil border open gardens constantia

Carol’s garden was a natural draw at Open Gardens Constantia 2014.

Why? Tea was served there! Also a lot of cake, and sandwiches.

But the surprise waiting for everyone at the garden gate was the beautiful herb and vegetable garden, which was very popular with visitors. Above, Thai basil and an Alpine strawberry collection formed a luxurious border at the entrance.

garden seating open gardens constantia

Carol told us, “I enjoy vegetable gardening as it is so worthwhile eating what one has produced, and knowing that it is organic.”

Knowing what you are eating, how it was grown, is one of the great pleasures of the home gardener, regardless of scale.

giant mustard ogc

Giant mustard is flanked by companion marigolds, natural pest controllers. They have long been used by organic gardeners as pest traps. In the background is the indigenous and familiar Tulbaghia, or wild garlic. Both edible and useful, it also has a reputation for driving away harmful pests.

ruby chard ogc

Picture-perfect ruby chard (the stems are delicious cooked in their own right as a side dish).

rustic tuteurThe centre of the vegetable garden has a rustic wooden tuteur as its focal point, drawing the eye and supporting tomatoes.

Now that the guests have left, Carol can get back to eating her vegetables again!

Comfrey – the wonderplant

Looking for comfrey plants? We will have some of this hard-to-find, all-purpose herb at our plant sale on Friday and Saturday.

Garden accent, healer, compost activator, green mulch and liquid fertilizer, all in one plant.

Apart from its reputation as a healing herb (one of its common names is knitbone), comfrey – Symphytum officinale and cultivars –  is also a good compost activator (add a layer of leaves to your dry, brown matter). Its leaves’ high nitrogen and potassium levels make it an excellent green mulch, too. Steeped for six weeks, a comfrey tea is a good liquid fertilizer (and about as smelly, in its own way, as seaweed).

5 comfreyComfrey’s attractive, bold leaves make it a useful accent or contrast plant in the garden. The more common specimens have purple flowers, but some produce remarkable blue blooms.5 C5 omfrey herb JENNY F 5 DSC_0051 (58)

Got tickets to Open Gardens Constantia? Follow the link for more info.

Photos: Marianne Alexander. Text: Marianne Alexander, Marie Viljoen.

Bug Hotel

bug hotelDoes your garden have a bug hotel?

Cape Town garden designer and author Marijke Honig recently visited Babylonstoren and was taken by the bug hotel’s attractive architecture. You can do the same in your garden with a pile of brush and logs, but this is a version you can show the neighbours.

Insect palaces and bug hotels contribute to biodiversity in the garden, providing a haven for beneficial insects and arthropods (and perhaps the odd mole snake), who help you garden without the use of harmful pesticides.

(Look for Marijke’s new book, Plant Palettes, later in the year – an excellent and beautiful Christmas present for gardeners who would like inspiration for gardening indigenously.)

Photo credit: Marijke Honig.