Greenhouse Canada

Features Business Labour
Growing in the Green: Knowledge is a process…

April 26, 2012  By Melhem Sawaya

We live in a world that’s changing every day.

We live in a world that’s changing every day. Many of these changes are positive and give us a boost, but some are negative and pull us backward. Different people can face the same changes, but the effects are vastly different. Whether the circumstances are positive or negative depends on the situation we are in.

Grower Day is moving to the Niagara region this year.



The strength of our family and business relationships are major factors in how we face, adjust to, and make opportunities out of every change. The key factor in having that strength is the “applied knowledge” that produces results in the near future.

I’ve always believed that there is a better way to do things. If I am doing a certain procedure the same way year after year, I get the feeling that I am missing something, an improvement of some sort, in what I am doing.

To find that small or big change that can improve a certain process takes determination, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and then the will to apply it. By no means are my efforts meant just to change things; they are meant to find improvements.

Acquiring new ideas in performing a certain process does not mean that the old way is wrong. I definitely won’t 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.

Garden mums remain a popular crop for consumers.


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

Successful people are always seeking ways to improve things. It comes down to acquiring knowledge and applying it in a prudent way.

There are many sources for acquiring knowledge in our industry but nothing can take the place of listening to speakers in an informal setting where the discussion is wide open.

This is why Greenhouse Canada magazine launched Grower Day in 1995 as a way to present useful, practical information to increase our knowledge bank. Yes, some of us will benefit more from a speaker than others, but I guarantee that anyone who does not attend educational meetings or conferences will not add a thing to their knowledge bank. In no time, the knowledge bank will not be able to function.

In my almost 33 years in the greenhouse industry, I have seen many greenhouse operations grow and flourish, while some grew weaker and disappeared. I have noticed that the owners/managers of an operation who acted like they knew it all and didn’t thirst for new information they could apply are not in business any more, even though they were top growers less than 10 years ago.

The information age is changing fast and, if you don’t keep up, you will miss the boat.

■ Yes, this is a “commercial message” to attend next month’s Greenhouse Canada Grower Day. I can tell you first-hand that attending such meetings results in many benefits, such as learning from the speaker, networking among other attendees, and having personal contact with an expert … all of which you can draw upon in your daily operations.

Perennials, such as ‘Santa Fe Yellow’ coreopsis, offer many new marketing opportunities.


I was fortunate that my first employer believed in encouraging employees to improve themselves by acquiring knowledge through different meetings, courses and workshops. Many of us took advantage of those opportunities to improve as employees. It definitely has benefits for the company, too.

Greenhouse Canada Grower Day has attracted a growing number of sponsors and supporters. Many companies have sent experts to share their knowledge with us.

I started this Grower Day at the German Hall in Delhi, Ontario, in 1986-87 when I worked at Fernlea Flowers, and later continued it with the magazine.

I have seen the advantages of a day like this and how it can be a major factor in your business success. We don’t have to travel far to learn new things. Most of the time it is close by, and the information is just as good or even better than the information from across the pond or across the border.

(For more information, check out the Grower Day ad on page 4.)

The program, as usual, will be very informal and encourages audience participation. The speakers are more than happy to answer questions.



Sietse Elsinga
Frisia Floral Greenhouses
■ Almost every grower is using biological pest control in one form or another. Many times we think we are doing things right but may not be getting the results that we expect. Technical advisors from different companies don’t always agree how things should be done. There are times a grower has to decide on his or her own how to proceed, and one of the options is to give up on biocontrols – if only temporarily – and go back to using chemicals.

Elsinga will share his experience with biologicals – the good, the bad, the challenges and the benefits.



Charlie Hayes
■ Every season there is a leading issue for the industry, and this year it is water, fertilizers, chemicals and the handling of all inputs. Since runoff is a major concern, recycling is one of the main ways to handle this issue.

This includes the consideration of effective water treatment that is practical and economical.

Hayes will offer practical recommendations that can be applied right away. The name of the game in this issue is to be practical and proactive.



Jack Vanderkooy
Ontario Plants Propagation
■ Ontario Plants Propagation is taking steps to be proactive with water management. Vanderkooy will share his experiences with water management, including recycling measures. He will also outline the disinfection system for their irrigation water where a high level of purity is required since their main business is vegetable plant propagation. Bring your questions and he can tell you what doesn’t work and what worked for their operation.



Sarah Mitchell
■ Are you growing perennials? Do you grow just a small crop for June to extend the bedding plant season, or are you thinking of starting to grow few perennial varieties? Here is your chance to learn all about growing a few of the most popular varieties. Many growers know how to grow perennials but few know how to grow them well. Mitchell will outline the critical steps that will lead to successful coreopsis and echinacea crops, among others.



Roger Kehoe
Ecke Ranch
■ New ways are developed in growing any new crop. Kehoe will bring us the latest information on growing poinsettias. Branching problems, bract edge burn and cropping efficiency are common grower challenges.



Ed Higgins
Ball Horticulture
■ Garden mums are a significant crop in many greenhouse operations, and there are many new cultivars on the market. Higgins follows garden mum production throughout North America and knows the dos and don’ts of profitable production. This is not a catalogue overview – it is a presentation on procedures to help growers end up with a perfect crop.


Panel discussion
■ Do breeders and brokers have the ultimate consumer in mind with their new varieties? Is sufficient consideration given to garden performance of the new plants? Do we risk frustrating consumers with poorly performing plants, possibly leading them to give up on gardening? Bring your questions, suggestions and constructive criticism … and learn where the people that generate the new variety excitement are leading us.

We look forward to seeing you on June 20.

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; simply e-mail, or visit or .

Print this page


Stories continue below