When it comes to the topic of organic production, opinions differ. “How sensible is it to have organic products if the individual ingredients require very long transportation routes to get to the consumers,” asks Hans-Jürgen Luck, authorised signatory of the HAWITA Group. The consumer expects a sustainable and environmentally-conscious production method as well as short transportation routes. Thus HAWITA in Germany has both own peat and clay deposits and a bark humus production. The substrates are produced and packaged at the location where the raw materials are found, superfluous intermediate transportation is avoided. The manufacturer delivers to the customers directly from the production location. Other aggregates such as green-waste compost, wood fibres and coconut have also been selected and used in accordance with sustainability principles.
According to Luck, the use of a significantly reduced share of peat in an organic product is sensible when the purpose is to limit the high pH-values or salinity content of other aggregates and to produce a substrate mixture for particular application purposes. “With heath-land plants, the use of peat is virtually irreplaceable. And it also is an important aggregate for plant propagations,” Luck reminds.
Peat is only harvested on marsh areas that have already been drained, such as those that are used, for instance, for agriculture. The peat industry then subsequently renaturates the surfaces. Thus, in Germany, a number of formerly dry marsh areas were subsequently again turned into nature conservation areas. The result was more valuable landscapes for nature protection than prior to the peat extraction. Therefore, organic and peat is not a contradiction in terms, provided this involves responsible dealings with the resource.
Also of importance for organic horticulture is that the substrate has been adjusted for the respective intended application. Therefore, operating under the trade name of Lignostrat, the organic line of HAWITA, for instance, offers an organic herbal soil, an organic tomato and vegetable soil, an organic substrate for pressed pots, an organic soil for perennials and bark growing media. A supplement to the Hawita organic product line is found in the plant boosters such as Trichoderma or compounds that promote the root penetration and vitality, which can be mixed in upon request.
Photo Copyright Willi Rolfes
For hobby gardeners who don’t have much time or no green fingers, technoplant has developed the Aqua Cotta water reservoir. It fits into almost every pot and is suited for both indoor and outdoor use.
Planters with a water reservoir system take over the job of daily watering and, thanks to this, have already been bestsellers in gardening centres, do-it-yourself stores and online shops for years. Customers who prefer pots made of earthenware, terracotta or ceramics have to water their plants more frequently and, in the majority of cases, the amount of water given is a question of intuition. Now, the plastic planter producer technoplant has the solution for them: the Aqua Cotta water reservoirinsert.
The water reservoir is placed in the planter before the actual planting. Water is filled in the tank via a nozzle. As with the technoplant plastic planters, a sieve plate separates the substrate from the water.
Aqua Cotta fits into almost every pot
Aqua Cotta is available in two sizes. The water reservoir inserthas a flexible rim, so that it fits into all pots and tubs with a diameter rangingbetween 25 and 35 centimetresor 40 and 55 centimetres.
The filler necks for the water are also flexible and can be adjusted to the pot’s height. A cover cap serves two purposes. On the one hand, it prevents the soil from crumbling into the neck and, on the other, too much water from evaporating. If the neck would be a problem for optical reasons – for instance with a tall plant – one can also do without it. To achieve this, the hobby gardener must simply place the sealing plug in the sieve plate opening, so that no soil enters the water reservoir.
With Aqua Cotta, daily watering is a thing of the past. Yet, despite this, the plant is always optimally cared for. “Many hobby gardeners tend to water too much,” says Jörg Naffin from technoplant. A float gauge in the water reservoir clearly shows if additional water is required. As a general principle, the plants only need to be watered again after a number of days – in indoor areas, the water reservoir frequently lasts even longer.
Indoors an Outdoors
The Aqua Cotta water reservoir insert is interesting for the trade business because it can be used both indoors and outdoors, thus regardless of the season. This means it can be sold all year round. What is more, thanks to its outer packaging,it is self-explanatory, Naffin states. Due to the transparent packaging film, the product is visible and recognisable for the customers.The saddle label is in German on one side and comes with Euro-standard holes –making it ideal for optimal presentation, as the products can be hung up on the self-service walls. On the back, the product is explained in English and French.In addition to this, assembly instructions have been included.
According to Naffin, Aqua Cotta is an ideal all-year complementary product for every kind of hardware and, in addition to the placing at the self-service walls, it can also be presented in the sales display as a secondary placement.
Many future generations should also still be able to benefit from the valuable raw material peat. For this reason, the HAWITA Group has focussed its attention on peat-reduced substrates for many years. At the International Plant Fair(IPM) in Essen, the company presents a number of new soils, with a significantly reduced share of peat.
Included in the new substrates is a propagation soil on the basis of cocopeat, Perlite and white peat. The share of peat is now only 40 per cent. The bark culture substrate, on the foundation of volcano clay and bark humus only contains a share of 35 per cent peat. 60 per centis the share of peat with a new perennial substrate, which additionally contains clay, wood fibres, green-waste compost and pumice. The new universal soil contains absolutely no peat. It consists of volcano clay, wood fibres, bark humus, cocopeat and coconut fibres.
"Also in the future, we would like many gardeners to benefit from peat as the foundation for the plants," says Simon Tabeling, managing partner of the HAWITA Group. The company has already been offering substrates with less peat for many years. The total share of the peat substitute materials in the substrates is at more than 10 per cent, at individual locations it is even at more than 25 per cent.
Pioneer of Responsibly Produced Peat
What is more, in cooperation with nature conservationists, HAWITA takes care of the rewetting of the extraction areas that were previously mainly used by the farming industry in northern Germany and in the Baltic states. "By means of this, an ecologically more valuable surface is created than was the case prior to peat extraction," Tabeling emphasises. This is completely in line with the new Initiative for Responsibly Produced Peat (RPP), of which HAWITA is one of the pioneers. Based on this, the producers commit themselves not to touch intact moor land, to be careful in their use of peat and to restore the peat extracting areas to their natural state.
The reduction of the peat content in substrates requires special know-how. "The mixture of substitute materials must be correct to ensure that the water-nitrogen balance of the plants is not lost," says Oliver Weiß, Laboratory Head of the HAWITA Group. This is because
many of the vegetable peat substitute materials have the property of binding nitrogen in the substrate. Once this happens, it is no longer available as soluble nitrogen for plant growth.
Thus, during the culturing period, the HAWITA Group conducts nutrient analyses for its customers in the own in-house laboratory so as to support them in their changeover to peat-reduced substrates. Peat-substituting materials used by the company are bark humus, green-waste compost, coconut, wood fibres, wood shavings and mineral substances such as volcano clay, expanded clay, Perlite, lava and pumice gravel.
Photo by Willi Rolfes
The right soil for every plant and the unmistakeable product for every customer: what frequently only applied in professional horticulture in the past,is now increasingly being found in the field of hobby gardening. Long gone are the times in which ambitious hobby gardeners are satisfied with universal products. "This also presents the field of trade with new challenges," says Simon Tabeling, managing partner of HAWITA. Hence, the company, which has its headquarters in Vechta in Lower Saxony, has now expanded its soil programme for hobby gardeners. As of very recently, this includes an organic tomato and vegetable soil, distributed under the "Fruhstorfer" soil label, which is presented at the International Plant Fair (IPM) in Essen (Hall 3, Booth3B41).
Individual solutions that have been tailored to the specific customer needs are in high demand. The city balcony with its geraniums and self-grown tomatoes; the little townhouse garden with undemanding perennials, or the attractive bed of roses – all of these have different requirements and should be nurtured with different soil mixtures, is the advice of Tabeling. However, the customers are not to be overtaxed with the great selection at hand. Here, e.g., particularly the hobby gardeners with little expertise would like to have a sensible guidance system that will quickly and easily assist them in finding the right soil for their purposes.
Distinctive Private Labels
Increasingly, trade is also focussing its attention on individuality. The trend toward private labels is no longer something that is reserved for major chains, as it has in the meantime also reached the small and medium-sized gardening centres. "Private labelling requests and projects are increasing every year," says Simon Tabeling. The objective of trade is to offer a high-quality and distinctive product that cannot be purchased anywhere else.
"We have always mixed individualised substrates for our professional customers, right from the outset," the HAWITA boss emphasises. In the meantime, more and specialist dealers are also demanding this. The own raw material resources also allow the company to react quickly to extensive orders. For this, HAWITA has about 4,500 hectares of peat extraction surfaces in Lower Saxony and the Baltic states, as well as clay deposits in Hesse.
Here, increasingly, the consumers are interested in seeing evidence of responsible dealings with peat. In this regard, HAWITA is one of the supporters of the RRP initiative (Responsibly Produced Peat) – a seal of approval that is expected to be awarded for the first time this year. The seal itself ensures that the raw materials originate from sustainable extraction sources with subsequent renaturation.
Organic and Peat-Reduced is in
Keeping with Current Trends Another sign of the growing awareness of hobby gardeners is seen in the fact that organic soils are becoming increasingly more popular. Already for numerous years, HAWITA has offered plenty of peat-reduced and peat-free soils in its product range. The raw material of peat is then substituted by bark humus, wood fibres or green-waste compost.
The quality of the soils is controlled and ensured by the own in-house laboratory. "Major horticultural companies cannot afford to use soils of varying quality. Therefore, we are extremely discerning so as to ensure constant high-grade soils and substrates," Simon Tabeling emphasises. This also benefits hobby gardeners.
The HAWITA GROUP is a global company that employs more than 400 members of staff, boasts eight production facilities and owns more than 4,500 hectares of moorland in Germany and the Baltic States.
Thanks to a constant corporate policy, comprehensive know-how and top-class employees, over the course of our company's more than 80-year history we have developed into one of the premium manufacturers of products for modern horticulture.
Substrates and soil for professionals and hobby gardeners
Our portfolio caters to the "green sector", from hobby gardening to commercial horticulture. We stand for an innovative spirit, the best premium products, customer focus and a complete logistics chain – with our name and with our guiding principle: "Your plants in good hands!"
We warmly invite you to explore our website and find out in detail about our company, as well as the extensive range of products and services we offer. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us in person at any time.
The Management Board and Team at the HAWITA Group