A guest rant by Tom Alexander

A good friend and best selling author on marijuana cultivation recently submitted his books to the Garden Writers Association for their annual Quill & Trowel awards.

At first he was told his works wouldn’t be considered for the awards because the judges didn’t consider them to be “gardening.” Then he received word that his works would be considered but “the judges had a significant difference of opinion as to whether the subject matter was gardening. Lacking a specific definition of gardening, which will be resolved later, the group accepted your entries for review and judging.” To say the judges were prejudiced and his chances at an award were next to zero would be an understatement.

Obviously, there is going on behind the scenes at the GWA a discussion as to just what defines gardening. I would submit that even though marijuana is illegal (for a few more months at least in California), cultivating the plant is gardening (or farming in the larger plots.) Many marijuana gardeners have researched breeding and cultivation techniques that are way beyond anything that many land grant universities are doing, both in soil and

Even though the plant is considered a weed, it needs a good growing medium, lots of nutrients and water. It needs pruning to bush out for maximum yields. It needs close attention, especially indoors for pests such as white flies, aphids and spider mites. Gardeners also have to pay attention to when the flower buds are at their maximum ripeness just like vegetables and other flowers. In short, it needs a human to attend to its needs. To me that is the definition of gardening: plants needing humans to survive and flourish.

In the gardening world, many times there is an elitism that is sort of inherent in the plants and kind of garden a gardener grows. Those that don’t know the Latin names of every plant turn their nose up at those that do. Those that like fancy flower gardens with a feng shui design, look down at those who garden in more of a disorderly kung fu design. Vegetable gardeners think their gardens are better than flower gardeners. Container gardeners choose the beauty and art of the container over growing in soil. And vice versa in many of those examples.

Now we have the non marijuana gardeners considering marijuana growers as not gardeners at all.

Gardening is much like obscenity. You know it when you see it. For me, the definition of gardening should be the planting, tending, cultivation and care of a plant; any and all plants, including marijuana. Just because it is for now, an illegal plant, doesn’t exclude it from being grown and considered gardening. Moral and personal judgments shouldn’t come into play as to what is gardening. In fact it is much more difficult to garden
marijuana because the gardener has to worry about the garden getting stolen by thieves or confiscated by law enforcement. Most gardeners don’t have to worry about those two reasons for crop failure in their gardens.

Tom Alexander has been a gardening publisher since 1980. His blog Growing Edge.com, covered all aspects of sustainable, organic and non-genetically modified legal gardening and farming in soil, hydroponically,
aquaponically and in greenhouses.