Coconut coir benefits for gardening: Coconut coir is also known as Coco coir, is an organic product derived from the coconut tree. And it is a fiber sourced from the tough, dense husk inside coconuts. Coconut coir is popular with a wide range of consumers that means container gardeners, hydroponic growers, commercial nurseries, and even homeowners trying their hand at indoor gardening. Part of this explosion in popularity is due to its sustainability, advantages, and similarity to soil and peat moss. What are we waiting for? Let’s discuss the coconut coir benefits for your garden plants.
A step by step guide to coconut coir benefits for gardening
Coconut coir is an organic compound that adds to the absorbency, water retention and drainage of potting soils and is a fine amendment to garden soil. Use Coco coir on its own to sprout seeds, propagate plants and provide support to the root structures of hydroponically grown plants. Coco coir is obtainable to home gardeners for use in potting mixes, container gardening, landscaping and more.
In this article, we discuss the following topics;
- Benefits of coconut coir in gardening
- Can you mix coco coir with soil
- Is coconut coir good for seed starting
- How to make coconut coir
- Growing vegetables in coco coir
- Different types of Coco coir
- Coco coir hydroponics
- Advantages of using coco coir as a growing medium
- the pH of coconut coir
Coconut coir is a waste product of the coconut fiber industry and the coir comes from the outer husk of the coconut. It is used in place of peat moss in soil mixtures. Unlike peat, Coco coir is a renewable resource. It is also less acidic than peat, lasts longer and has higher water retention. Coconut coir can be used in soilless potting mixes or mixed with soil in concentrations of up to 80 percent of the mixture. The coir is generally sold in bricks that expand in water.
Coco coir is a popular type of hydroponic growing medium. There are a whole host of benefits to growing with Coconut coir that you can and must take advantage of if you’re new to hydroponics. Coco coir has a neutral pH level. The pH of the coir is a huge benefit while peat moss is considered acidic with a pH of 3.3 to 4; coco coir is closer to an ideal, neutral pH between 5.2 and 6.8. This means Coco coir is ready to use for several plants without adding lime. Nutritionally, coco is also a good choice.
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Mix Coconut coir and Soil
Mixing Coco coir with soil works great because;
- Coconut coir improves soil aeration and moisture retention.
- It loosens the texture of clay soil and also improves drainage.
- Coconut coir allows the sandy soil to hold on to water longer.
First, submerge the coir brick in a bucket of water. The instructions in the package will tell you how much water to use for the brick size you purchase. Alternatively, you can purchase a Coco coir that has already had the water added.
Scoop the hydrated coir with hands and mix it around until the fibers separate and the coir is loose and fluffy. Then, it is now ready to mix with soil.
Carefully add equal parts coir and soil in a container. Add one part compost to fertilize if desired. Stir the components until they are well-mixed. You can vary the amounts of each part used to get the desired consistency and then you can also add 1 part perlite or vermiculite for better drainage. Use the soil mixture for potting container plants or sandy soils for outdoor ground plants.
Coconut coir making
Coconut coir comes from the fibrous coconut husks inside of coconut shells. This strong and helpful by-product is sourced for the production of several different products. Among them are Upholstery stuffing, Plant basket liners, Doormats, Brushes, Ropes, and Rugs.
Coco coir is an extremely durable, rot-resistant, fibrous material making for a good material to use in producing products with plenty of exposure to water and used outdoors. Coco peat is a popular material found in potting mixes, as a propagation medium and a soil amendment. To get Coconut coir ready for hydroponic gardening uses, it needs to go through extensive processing.
Initially, they need to remove the coir from the coconuts. And this is done by soaking the husks in water to loosen and soften them. This is done in tidal waters or freshwater. If done in tidal waters, the Coconut coir will take up a large amount of salt, which will want to be flushed out by the manufacturer at a later stage.
Then, they are removed from the water bath and dried for over a year. After the drying procedure, which is quite extensive, the coir is organized into bales. These bales are then chopped and processed into several formats, from chips, to “croutons”, to classic ground Coconut coir.
Coco coir better than peat moss
There are many good reasons to choose Coco coir over peat moss for gardening and potting mix, and naturally, peat moss has no place in hydroponics. The first and foremost reason to choose Coco coir is that it is a renewable resource. Choosing Coco coir over peat moss helps stop the destruction of ecologically fragile peat bogs.
And the source for peat moss comes from decomposed plant matter accumulated in waterlogged soil for centuries. The destruction of a peat bog can happen in a matter of weeks, it will not renew itself for many lifetimes. Coco coir, as a byproduct of coconut harvest, is entirely sustainable. Using Coco coir in your garden prevents it from taking up space in the landfill, where it can take more than a century to break down.
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Neutral Coco coir pH level comes with several advantages over peat moss. It is hospitable to several varieties of plants and easier to amend with nutrients. More fruits and vegetables prefer more alkaline soil. When you start with Coconut coir as a growing medium, you will not want to amend with lime to produce these results.
Adding nutrients to coco coir
Coco coir does contain these nutrients;
It is quite rich in potassium, so when selecting fertilizer you may want to choose a product that has relatively low potassium content. And the other nutrients are negligible, but they do add some benefit.
Coir pH level is fairly neutral, so you may not want to use it for blueberries, flowering Azalea plants and other types of plants that prefer acidic soil. For these types of plants, you may wish to continue amending with peat moss.
Coco coir types
Types of Coco coir
When you buy a Coconut coir product, you’re buying three types of Coconut coir;
- Coco fiber,
- Coco pith (or coconut peat),
- Coco chips
Coconut fiber adds air pockets into the medium. It’s not very absorbent, which is good because growing media needs air pockets to provide oxygen to the root zone. Coconut fibers do break down rather quickly though, meaning the air pockets they create will decrease over time.
Coir fibers are the fibers separated from the rest of the coir and they can help improve the air holding capacity of your hydroponic growing media. But they degrade pretty quickly in water.
Coco Pith or coco peat
The “peat” of Coconut coir, basically looks like finely ground coconut or peat moss. It is so small and absorbent that if you were to use coco peat as your only growing medium, you might drown out the roots of your plants. It should be aged properly to be used as a growing medium, as it can let out salts that will kill your plant if you’re not careful. Choosing a Coconut coir manufacturer that age properly is crucial for good growth.
Coconut chips are a natural type of expanded clay pellet. They are just made from plant matter instead of clay. They are best thought of as a hybrid between coco peat and also coco fiber. They’re large enough to create air pockets, but absorb water so your plants won’t dehydrate completely.
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Coir Chips act as a natural alternative to clay pellets but unlike the pellets, they will degrade naturally. They are versatile because they can hold both air pockets as well as water.
Based on the maturity of the coir fibers at the time of harvest, Coco coir can be divided into two types;
- White coir
- Brown coir
White coir is made from young, immature fibers. It is less durable.
Brown coir is from mature fibers, this variety is stronger and more durable.
Brown coir is better for use in gardens and hydroponics systems due to its superior quality and strength.
Using and benefits of coconut coir in hydroponic gardening
Natural Coconut coir and organic Coconut coir makes transitioning from soil to hydroponic gardening easy as it handles just like regular potting soils. When shopping is sure to select the right type of coir for your purpose. You will find products packaged for garden, ornamental and hydroponic garden use. Coconut coir prepared for hydroponic gardening has the sodium and potassium removed to give a completely nutrient-neutral medium. This gives you complete control over the nutrient uptake of plants.
Take special care when preparing Coco coir for use in hydroponics. The ornamental variety is quite inexpensive, it is not suitable for hydroponic or food production use as it may contain higher salt levels.
How to use coco coir
In your garden or your potted plants, you can mix up to 40% coir with your soil or potting mix. If you make your seed starting mix for starting small seeds it is best to use fine pith Coconut coir.
Coco coir is nice on its own but even better when combined with other amendments such as rice hulls and perlite. Using them in combination will give you the best results in drainage, aeration, and water retention. Coir also makes great worm bin bedding.
Coconut coir benefits for gardening
- This fibrous material is low-acid with a pH level of 5.2-6.8 (as compared with peat, which ranges between 3.5 and 4.5).
- When dry, it soaks up water eagerly, thus it helps plants recover quickly from dry conditions and makes good use of available water.
- Absorbs ten times its weight in water, so it keeps roots well hydrated and provides a good growing medium for the healthy development of roots.
- Coco coir is a natural weed-free and soil-free product that smells good too.
- As a soil amendment coir adds organic matter.
- Coco coir helps to improve soil structure.
- Coco coir improves water holding capacity acts as a sponge to hold water in the root zone so that the plants can use it when they need it. And it has a better water holding capacity than most soil amendments and it can hold 7 to 10 times its weight.
- Good transition from soil gardening means growing in Coco coir feels like growing in soil because the two media look so similar. And you can have a completely hydroponic garden that looks almost the same as a soil garden. The only difference is instead of watering with only water, you had water your Coconut coir garden with nutrient-enriched water.
- Retains moisture and provides a good environment that means– Coco coir is one of the most effective growing media for water retention out there. It can absorb up to 10 times its weight in water, meaning the roots of your plants will never get dehydrated. There is also a lot of growing media for roots to work through, promoting healthy root development.
Coco coir good for plants
Coco coir is an excellent medium for growing plants because it is light in weight and can hold a lot of water. As a seed germination Coco coir is excellent.
Applications of coconut coir in gardening
Coco coir is an excellent soil enhancer. In gardening, you can use Coconut coir to make a good potting mix and to improve the soil quality in your garden. But rarely will you find Coco coir in ready to use format. After getting the Coco coir you have to first prepare it for plants.
Coco coir is a good growing medium for plants. And it can be a good component for a high-quality potting mix. Most of the potting mixes obtainable in the market still use peat moss as the base component. If you make your potting soil, you can replace peat moss with a greener alternative to the Coco coir. Coco coir is also a great choice as seed starters due to its organic and sterile nature. You can use Coco coir to amend garden soil quality and the coir has an amazing water retention capacity.
As a garden soil additive
In outdoor gardening, Coconut coir is a good addition to all types of soil and it has excellent water holding and aerating capabilities. It can be used whole or as one of its above mentioned several byproducts. In clayey soil, Coconut coir has a lightening effect. In sandy soil, Coconut coir helps retain water more efficiently. Generally, Coconut coir helps improve soil drainage and water retention.
As a component in soilless potting mixes
The same reasons that make it a good additive to garden soil also make coir a fantastic component in homemade soil mixes. Major manufacturers these days add coir in some form to their mixes.
A better alternative to peat moss
Coco coir is increasingly viewed as a desirable alternative to peat moss and peat bogs are a nonrenewable source of peat. Coco coir is a byproduct of coconut farming, which is a far more eco-friendly source. Coir has some clear advantages over peat. For starters, it is easier to manipulate and work with. Coir has a very neutral pH level, which makes it better for a wider variety of plants. This means that coir teams up better with nutrients than peat. Though peat at times feels water-resistant, coir practically acts like a sponge. And it is better than peat in handling water.
That’s all folks about coconut coir benefits and uses for your garden. You may be interested in Papaya Seed Germination Tine, Temparature, Process.