Letter to "Master Growers"

Letter to "Master Growers"


  • Comprehensive knowledge or skill in a particular subject or activity

  • Control or superiority over someone or something.
Every time I hear the term "Master Grower" I inwardly cringe. I've been in and around the nursery and horticulture industry since I was a small child and I'm amazed at how much I still have to learn. I've dedicated much of my adult life to educating myself on soils and nutrients and learning about soil biology, plant physiology, and horticulture. I've had the great fortune to interact and surround myself with people in the gardening world I consider to be highly knowledgable such as Tim Wilson, Steve Solomon, Elaine Ingham, Jeff Lowenfels, "Clackamas Coot," Jessi Bloom, Jaya Palmer, my father, and many more. 

Pet Peeves:

  • Growing a crop using 1 bottled nutrient line for years does not make someone an expert. 
  • Growing only 1 crop in an indoor environment does not make someone a "Master Grower."
  • Winning a competition or cup
  • Having a degree or certificate is wonderful, but doesn't imply mastery.
  • Evaluating the quality of the grower based on one crop cycle. There's too many variables where growers can face many challenges or get lucky on a crop. I want to see someone produce consistent results over a period of years.
What I look for in a grower or gardener:
  • An open-minded view on gardening and willingness to be wrong or learn/try new things.
  • A passion for learning and seeking out new technologies and theories.
  • A scientific brain that challenges conventional beliefs and wisdom.
  • Hands on experience in a multitude of growing environments.
  • Someone who loves plants beyond a $ sign and truly enjoys growing.

As an industry, I think we do ourselves a disservice with these titles. At least a degree in horticulture, botany, or plant science carries some level of required education. There's no requirement to be a self-proclaimed "Master Grower" and to me it implies an arrogance that says the person is closed-minded in their beliefs and doesn't feel they have anything more to learn.

Let's foster an environment of learning and education. There is so much we still don't know about the soil. Did you know that 85-99% of bacteria and archaea we still cannot culture consistently under laboratory conditions? Much of what occurs in the rhizosphere we still don't understand.

I can personally guarantee that no one at KIS Organics will ever be a "Master Grower" but we will continue our passion for learning and strive to improve our growing processes and products along the way. 


Tad Hussey