If you prepare your own soil mix for growing houseplants and seedlings. In my opinion Coco coir it’s an necessary ingredient. It is worth looking at a relatively new and interesting.
Everyone, probably at least once in their life, has seen coconut and its “fluffy” long-fiber shell. One can find many delicious products made from coconut (in fact, it is coconut).
But coconut shells and fibers used to be just a waste product. Later, the fiber was used to make a coco coir matrix, and a mixture of broken shells and the same fiber was used to meet the needs of gardeners. So, what are these special needs?
WHAT IS COCO COIR (COCONUT COIR)?
It’s not the kind of Coco you add hot water to and drink. it’s the kind of Coco coir (Coconut Coir) that you put plants in to get great growth results.
Coco coir (Coconut Coir) is a highly absorbent medium and one of the few renewable mediums available. It is also part of the grower’s high porosity mix.
What makes Coconut Coir so special, how it is obtained, its neutral pH, and the many benefits it can provide for your soil (or soilless) mix.
ORIGIN OF COCO COIR (COCONUT COIR)
Coco coir is actually a by-product of the coconut fiber industry. There is a layer of fiber strands between the outer skin and the actual coconut. While the outer skin and coconut can be used for textiles and other coconut products, the coconut husk is usually set aside.
This leftover by-product is then pressed into bricks, or sold loose for agricultural use. Compared to its more controversial counterpart, peat, Coco coir is completely renewable and is considered a more sustainable medium.
Most Coco coir is sourced from Asia, particularly India and Southeast Asia. Growers place our coco coir in dehydrated bricks from a single source to prevent any contamination or mold. We have had the same relationship with our source for over 20 years.
ADVANTAGES OF COCO COIR (COCONUT COIR)
Everyone involved in gardening knows that perhaps the most important thing for plants is the development of the root system. If the roots develop in loose soil, the process is faster than in dense clay soil. Roots need water to develop, but they also need air.
That’s why gardeners prepare soil mixtures with various loose soil additives – peat, vermiculite, agricultural perlite, etc. Each of these materials has its advantages and disadvantages. And what about Coco coir in the role of a loosener?
First of all, it has a porous structure that stores a large amount of water in itself, gradually providing moisture to the plant. But at the same time, it also provides air passage for the roots.
Secondly, it has a neutral pH. This makes it suitable for almost all plants (except maybe cacti).
By adding an ingredient to Coco coir, you can change the acidity of the mixture. For example, for weakly acidic soils you can add high peat (acidic), and for weakly alkaline soils – lime.
Thirdly, Coco coir is easy to transport. It is worth knowing that from 4 kg of pressed Coco coir-block size 12x12x4inch (30x30x10 cm), you can produce about 60 liters of the finished composition for the soil mixture.
Complete sterility is another of its advantages. This is particularly important for seed germination since their death is mainly due to improperly prepared mixtures that use natural ingredients (soil, sand, peat) without pre-treatment (sterilization).
In addition to water, Coco coir can be injected with liquid (water-soluble) fertilizer, which is then gradually applied to the plants.
Coco coir can be reused for up to 5 years after use. It is a completely organic material, which means that it is not only suitable for indoor floriculture, but also for gardening, even for organic cultivation.
Gradually, after about 5 years, Coco coir will completely decompose and become part of the soil of your plot.
WHICH IS BETTER, COCO COIR (COCONUT COIR) OR PEAT?
In my opinion, convincing advantages. By the way, Coco coir also has its advantages if you compare it with peat, the most common soil loosener among gardeners. Many people are familiar with the situation of over-dried peat.
It can be very time-consuming and difficult to soak it and make it suitable for use. Coco coir, on the other hand, is soaked in less than an hour because it is completely dry.
Yes, and the small particles of peat have a “habit” overtime of flowing with the water into the planting hole or container when watered. coco coir has larger particles and uniform fibers, which allows it to be placed evenly in the root zone all the time.
In general, seedlings grown in Coco coir or a soil mix with Coco coir added have a better, more uniform root system. Note that many manufacturers of container planting materials use Coco coir – it is easier to transport and the root system develops better in it.
WHEN TO USE COCO COIR (COCONUT COIR)?
In indoor floriculture
There are two options for growing indoor or container plants with Coco coir. Either grow in pure Coco coir, but with continuous and regular feeding or make a mixture by adding soil and biomethane to the substrate.
Sow the seeds of Coco coir (Coconut Coir) seedlings
As it is sterile, you have the possibility to get rid of most of the problems of seedlings (blackleg, insects, and weeds). But there are two things to keep in mind: since the substrate itself is a rather coarse portion, you should also sow large seeds into it.
Pure Coco coir itself has almost no nutritional value, which means either preparing it specifically for sowing or fertilizing it with a liquid fertilizer after the first true leaves appear.
Seedlings grown after harvesting
To do this, mix the soaked Coco coir with roughly equal parts of sterilized garden soil from your plot. The soil mixture is both friable and nutritious, and the seedlings are used to the peculiarities of your soil from “childhood” onwards.
Plant your plants (sprouts) in the open
Creating a mixture of soil and Coco coir in the planting hole (about 1:1) will allow the plants to adapt faster and establish a new root system, which is very important during the initial life of the plants in the open space of your plot.
Coco coir can be used as a mulch and as a root insulator for seedlings (if funds allow).
HOW TO PREPARE COCO COIR SUBSTRATE PROPERLY?
The pressed blocks should be poured with the appropriate amount of water as specified in the instructions. Let’s say that a 4 kg block, poured with 25 liters of water, has a perfectly usable clean substrate after one hour, about 60 liters (6 buckets!).
If you do not need that much at a time, you can cut off part of the block. However, it is very difficult to do with a knife, a saw or cutting power tool will do.
However, I suggest improving the technique by not soaking the dry substrate in pure water, but adding a small amount (according to the instructions) of a water-soluble mineral complex fertilizer, or adding a liquid biofungicide (vermicompost tea) for better results.
Such a substrate will immediately have a small, but nutritious value. Yes, when watering it will be reduced and consumed by the plants, so you can add about the same amount of dry biomethane.
Such a mixture will provide your plants (except succulents) with everything they need: water, nutrients, and air.
DISADVANTAGES OF COCO COIR (COCONUT COIR)
Unfortunately, the world is arranged in such a way that everything has its disadvantages.
In the case of Coco coir, these are.
- The price is relatively high. This severely limits its use in small-capacity containers, pans, and boxes. Application in open spaces is possible, but will not be cheap.
- Coco coir must be prepared before use – soaked and (optionally) soaked with fertilizer.
- Finally, the main thing. Unfortunately, judging by the reviews, there is low-quality Coco coir, not sterilized and containing substances harmful to plants. The fact that they grow coconut trees by the sea, and of course the seawater used extensively in processing. But do they get rid of it completely? This is not a fact! Therefore, either look for a good manufacturer or, to be on the safe side, thoroughly rinse the substrate yourself (for rinsing suitable for normal Capron women’s pantyhose).
So let’s get hold of a new product and share our impressions recipes for its use.