Growing in the Green: So, do you think you know it all?

April 30, 2008
Written by Melhem Sawaya
If you really believe you know it all, then don’t waste your time reading this feature, because I guarantee that you are on a slippery downward slope. There is always a better way to do things, if you take time to look for it. If I am doing a certain procedure the same way, year after year, I get the feeling that I am missing something, usually an improvement of some kind to what I am doing. To find that certain small or big change that can improve a certain process takes the drive and the unquenched thirst for seeking knowledge, and then applying it. By no means is my drive just to change things, but to find improvements.

Acquiring knowledge in performing a certain process does not mean the old way is wrong. I would definitely not change the old method until I apply the new information and prove its advantage. Whether the new information is better or not, we always learn by trying different things and, in the process, our bank account of knowledge increases.

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Grower Day roots in Delhi, Ontario, go back to 1986. Greenhouse Canada has hosted the event since 1995.

Knowledge is one of the noble commodities no one can take away from us. It is a treasure that proves very useful in everyday life and especially in our field of work where knowledge is our strongest tool as long as we apply it.

By no means am I trying to get philosophical, but the reality is that successful people are always trying to improve. It often comes down to acquiring knowledge and applying it in a prudent way.

There are many sources for acquiring information in our industry, but nothing can take the place of seminars or workshops and learning directly from leading specialists in an informal and casual setup.

This is why Greenhouse Canada felt so strongly about the usefulness of hosting a Grower Day about a dozen or so years ago with the plan to put on a day of useful, practical information that would increase our knowledge bank. Yes, some of us will acquire more from a speaker than others, but I guarantee you that those growers who don’t get out to attend seminars will not deposit a thing to their bank of knowledge.

In my almost 30 years in the greenhouse industry, I have seen many operations grow and flourish. I have also seen others grow weaker before disappearing. Owners and managers who felt they knew it all are not in business any longer, even though they might have previously been top growers.

The information age is rolling along, and if you don’t keep up, you’ll miss the train.

Yes, this is a commercial plug to attend the Greenhouse Canada Grower Day (GCGD) on June 18 in Delhi, Ontario, but it is a genuine one. I can tell you first-hand that attending such presentations yield many benefits, including cutting edge advice from the speakers, networking with other growers, a chance to tour a mini trade show with cropping solutions and innovations, and an opportunity to talk informally with a host of industry specialists.

If it weren’t for the generosity of companies allowing their experts to come and share their knowledge with us, Grower Day would not happen.

I was fortunate my first employer believed in encouraging employees to better themselves by acquiring knowledge through different meetings, courses and workshops. We welcomed these opportunities.

I started this Grower Day in 1986-87 when I worked at Fernlea Flowers, and then continued it with the magazine. Attendance has been good, but it can be better. I feel sorry for those growers who do not understand the importance of continual learning as the foundation for any successful operation. We don’t have to travel far for information to be useful. Most of the time it is at our door, not far away, and is just as good, or better, than the information from across the pond or across the border.

This year’s GCGD theme explores The Synergy of Bedding Plants, Perennials and Shrubs. Presentations will cover the following topics:

• The practical way of producing top-quality garden mums, where media, fertility, varieties, timing and production will be covered by a hands-on grower. Representatives of leading garden mum suppliers will also be on hand to answer questions.

• Crop information to incorporate flowering shrubs within a bedding plant crop is another theme. Shrubs can help optimize any greenhouse production area. The session will also spotlight the magical foliage colours of shrubs. This is a new era in the bedding plant production portfolio. To see if shrubs fit into your operation, try just a few the first year in a limited program. The more you know about shrubs ahead of time, the better the chance of not repeating mistakes many growers have made.

• How best to add perennials into your bedding plant program will also be covered. Also discussed will be mixed containers, flowering seasons, and garden performance.

• Among the annuals presentations, New Guinea impatiens production and how to time the crop to hit sales dates exactly will be covered. Also in the spotlight will be lantana and angelonia, heat-loving crops that are excellent garden performers.

Alternatives to vegetative plants will highlighted. Many impressive varieties are produced by seed rather than vegetatively. Learn what is available from seed that perform as well as, if not better than, many vegetative varieties.

For complete Grower Day 2008 speaker information, check the Greenhouse Canada website at www.greenhousecanada.com . Grower Day is designed to give growers new and effective tools to achieve higher profit margins and, hopefully, a better quality of life.

Melhem Sawaya of Focus Greenhouse Management is a consultant and research coordinator to the horticultural industry. Comments on this or any other article are always welcome by e-mailing him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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