Sustainable gardening

We talk about where the passion for gardening comes from, how the approach to cultivation in home gardens is changing as well as about the horticultural fertilizer market in Poland with Wiktor Kacmajor, President of the Management Board of Tamark S.A.

Please tell us what is the scale of gardening in Poland?
The largest group of hobby gardeners are the owners of home gardens, of which there are about 5 million in Poland. An equally important part of the horticultural community are gardeners who maintain about 1 million allotment gardens. In addition, this group includes Poles who, to a lesser extent, cultivate a variety of plants in their apartments, mainly those with balconies and terraces. It is worth noting that during the pandemic many completely new young amateur gardeners have appeared, who, due to the limitation of tourism, have set up their own gardens and are gaining experience.

We estimate that about 7% of people involved in amateur gardening in our country are gardeners who can be described as experts. These are people who have been devoting themselves to hobby crops for many years. A much larger group are enthusiasts, who use the experience of these experts – e.g. their parents or neighbors.

In recent years, we have observed several important trends in horticulture. The most important thing was to maintain decorative gardens with well-maintained lawns. At the same time, there is a return to fruit and vegetable cultivation, but not for economic reasons as in the 1970-90s of the twentieth century, but due to ecology and the satisfaction of growing for oneself.  In the years 2020-2021, the gardens, due to the pandemic, have become a center of entertainment and leisure activities. It can also be seen that under the influence of fashion from Western Europe, the garden is more and more often treated as a showcase of the owners of the house or plot.

Who are the main clients for horticultural fertilizers?
Undoubtedly, the largest group using mineral fertilizers are the owners of lawns, coniferous, and ornamental plants. In amateur cultivation of vegetables and fruit, mainly biological fertilizers such as composts, liquid manure or ready-made biohumus (vermicompost) products are used. On the other hand, for home and terrace applications, liquid concentrates, spikes or fertilizer applicators are willingly used. At the same time, awareness of the need to preserve biodiversity in the garden has grown significantly in recent years. However, most users still use care methods aimed at the fastest possible effect with a relatively low amount of work.

What is the role of water in the garden?
Water is one of the basic factors influencing the proper care of gardens. We observe very positive and large-scale trends in water saving. The most important of these is the accumulation of rainwater. At the same time, the soil is increasingly enriched with biocomponents which results in accumulation or better assimilation of water. Other important trends include the development of drip irrigation systems or owners’ more and more rational approach to watering lawns and reducing irrigation during periods of drought. It is also worth mentioning the incentives and local government subsidies for the construction of rainwater tanks.

Please tell us about the best practices of integrated pest management in the garden.
As a manufacturer of the Target brand, we try to promote the best plant protection practices. It is primarily to ensure the resistance of plants through the appropriate biological composition of the soil and at least once a year fertilizing with products of natural origin, such as nettle extracts. At the same time, we recommend gardeners to use plant protection products approved for organic cultivation or products that control pests physically. An important element of our recommendations is the use of products supporting plant immunity, such as basic substances. Only in the case of a high intensity of diseases or pests do we offer plant protection products approved in Poland for use by non-professionals. All our consumers have access to advice in this regard on our website and also through a dedicated application (Green First Aid).

How are your products made?
We are a manufacturer of mineral fertilizers which we granulate on site. Since 2021 we have also been producing fertilizers which contain basalt rock dust which we have registered. In turn, the products for care and protection of plants are obtained from recognized domestic or foreign companies, and in our company we pack or formulate them. Our task is to monitor the needs of the market and search for innovative products as well as to support Polish gardeners with knowledge and competence. We also try to create trends in sustainable plant protection and care.

What does sustainable gardening mean to you?
It can be said that sustainable gardening is thinking about the garden and making actions even before the problems such as diseases or malnutrition of plants occur. For this purpose, everyone beginning the adventure with gardening should take care of the right soil, water and healthy seeds or seedlings. Planning is important because using products to replace traditional fertilizers or plant protection products requires a lot of knowledge and a much greater amount of work. The Internet plays a huge role here as it is actually the only medium that provides knowledge on the subject about sustainable plant cultivation. In our opinion, European countries do not sufficiently support sustainable cultivation of plants. The use of prohibitions and exclusions of plant protection products does not go hand in hand with support for fast track registration of organic or natural products.

How does Target implement principles of sustainable development in its company?
Our flagship achievement is the Target Natural product line, in which we have a range of fertilizers and plant protection products that meet the needs of the average amateur gardener. We are intensively developing this line, recently introducing fertilizers with basalt rock dust. We were also the first to implement a dedicated application for hobbyists –, in order to even more effectively promote all methods of sustainable plant care.

At the same time, as a company, we are also changing in terms of reducing our carbon footprint through solutions such as the installation of 150 kW photovoltaic panels, or replacing our car fleet with hybrid vehicles. In 2020, we also invested in a new sewage treatment plant and introduced modern methods of hazardous waste management – whether at our production plant or at our customers’ premises.

Thank you for the interview!