What is in this article?:
- First-generation California grower Eduardo Garcia is growing blackberry plants in coir instead of soil in Santa Paula, Calif.
- Coir consists of different parts of the coconut husk.
- Garcia is using coir for two reasons – to steer away from the use of soil fumigants and a timely market window which could bring a premium price for his blackberries.
EDUARDO GARCIA is a first-generation farmer growing blackberries in coir instead of soil in the Santa Clara River Valley near Santa Paula, Calif. (Ventura County)
To water the crop, Garcia estimates his annual well water use will total about 1 acre-foot per acre, all delivered by above ground spike drip. Plant nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese are delivered by irrigation.
The coastal region receives about 12 to 15 inches of rainfall annually.
Once the Santa Ana winds pick up each fall, Garcia will install ‘hoop houses’ — temporary, partially-covered greenhouses — above the plants for protection.
One drawback of coir use versus soil, Garcia says, is coir lacks the plant insulation provided by soil during the winter months.
While coir provides some disease control, root rot can still occur.
This summer and fall, Garcia has direct marketed his berries to restaurants and other markets within California. His berries share store shelves next to containers from some of the largest berry companies in the business. This makes Garcia feel proud.
“Each of my customers has been very pleased with my blackberries. It’s rewarding when you see your berries on the shelf in the store.”
Garcia concluded, “I love farming and believe it’s a noble cause.”
Spoken like a true farmer.