Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thoughtful Flowers

As a flower grower since 1948, Kitayama Brothers have had many opportunities to donate our beautiful flowers to different causes, events, shows and organizations throughout the years.

It feels good to do good, even more so, when the donation was to a worthy cause right here in our hometown. Below are a couple of pictures from Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County at their recent Volunteer Lunch.

~ Linda Nguyen

Monday, May 12, 2014

What About Water?

Over the past year when we give a tour at KB Farms, the first question we are asked is, “what about water?”  You can’t open the paper without an article about the California drought and the future of water in the state.  Flower growers like the rest of agriculture depends on water, therefore, we are very concerned about its quality and quantity now and in the future.  We are taking major steps to reduce our water usage without compromising quality.

Kitayama Brothers instituted the most basic method of water savings over 15 years ago when we converted all our crops to drip irrigation away from sprinklers or nozzle spray irrigation. 

This year Kitayama Brothers completed our gerbera water recycling system.  

The system is beneficial for two reasons; one is to use the recycled water but also to use the recycled fertilizer.  

We collect the water from the hydroponic gerbera system with white PVC pipe collectors.  

The recycled water is then sent to collecting tanks where the water and fertilizer are filtered and reused on our field crops.  

Here is a picture of the recycle tanks and recycle system next to a new collection pond for greenhouse roof runoff.

My sister-in-law, Carol Kitayama graduated in horticulture and does projects for KB.  One of her current projects is to experiment with tensiometers to measure our water usage versus the actual water needs of the plant.  Conventional wisdom was that over-watering was better than under-watering especially in our sandy soil.  However, with data from the tensiometers we believe we could cut our water use by 10-20%.  

Tensiometers are commonly used in the fields with produce; we believe KB is the first to experiment with tensiometers in the greenhouse.

Next year is supposed to be an El Nino year in California which could result in a lot of rain.  That would be great, but that won’t solve our long term problem.  Just like every other problem in life, it will require thinking and hard work to overcome this threat.