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The Facts About Coco Coir

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Coco Coir Farm

Coco Coir – Unlocking the Potential of Coconut Palm's Gift

Coir, a soil type growing medium derived from coconut husks, has a fascinating history that dates back to 1940 when EP Hume, a soil scientist, discovered its properties while extracting long fibers from the husk. Recognizing its resemblance to peat moss, he named it "coco peat" and began experimenting with it as a growing medium. Today, coir has gained global recognition as the preferred growing media for large scale greenhouse cultivation of both food and ornamental plants. Moreover, it offers numerous benefits for home gardens and container-grown plants, making it a choice growing medium for growers of all scales.

Qualities of Coco Coir that Garner Growers' Appreciation

Coir possesses several attributes that growers value, in addition to its material properties:

1. Organic Medium: As an organic medium, coir supports sustainable and eco-friendly gardening practices.

2. Renewable Resource: Being derived from coconut husks, coir is a renewable resource, making it an environmentally responsible choice.

Examining Coir's Physical and Chemical Properties

Coir stands out due to its unique physical and chemical properties, making it a highly versatile growing medium:

1. Moisture Retention and Drainage: Under microscopic observation, coir fibers reveal tiny hollow tubes that efficiently retain water. When watered, these tubes fill up rapidly, holding the water until reaching full capacity, after which excess water drains through. This natural drainage action ensures the uptake of oxygen from the air, promoting healthy root growth. Moreover, coir is considered "hydrophoric," meaning it acts as a water carrier, aiding in efficient water distribution within the substrate.

2. Neutral pH: Coir's pH levels range between 5.5 and 6.5, ideally suited for plant growth. This neutrality allows for broad compatibility with a variety of plant species. In cases where specific crops require higher or lower pH levels, simple adjustments with additives can ensure optimal conditions.

3. Electrical Conductivity (EC): Measuring the amount of salt and nutrients present in a substrate, EC is an essential parameter for growers. When selecting coir products, it is important to choose those with an EC level of less than 0.8, as indicated on the packaging. Growers have the option to use higher EC products if they are rinsed with water before use. Some growers prefer low EC coir to customize nutrient blends, while others use it directly and add desired fertilizers through various methods.

4. Inert Nature: Coir is relatively nutrient-deficient, which is advantageous for hydroponic growers seeking to tailor specific nutrient blends. In garden beds and containers, coir requires additional nutrient supplementation, achieved through coir-amendment blending with compost or other additives or direct application of desired fertilizers.

5. Versatile Structure: Coir's structure and texture can vary depending on the proportions of coir "pith," fiber, and chips. Expanded coir, typically in the form of 5kg blocks, appears light, fluffy, and airy, with a pleasing warm brown color. Its sponge-like texture demonstrates remarkable water-holding capacity, ideal for nurturing plant growth.

Leveraging Coir as a Soil Amendment

The benefits of coir extend to its exceptional efficacy as a soil amendment:

1. Enhanced Water Holding Capacity: Research by Hume and his team demonstrated that adding as little as 2 percent coco peat to sandy soil increased its water holding capacity by an impressive 40%. Conversely, amending heavy clay soils with coir improves drainage and facilitates better root penetration.

2. Re-Usable and Compostable: Coir's high lignin content grants it longevity, taking years to break down. As a result, it can be reused as desired and, being organic, is entirely compostable, minimizing environmental impact.

Using and Purchasing Coir

Purchasing coir in its compressed form is cost-effective for transporting it from primary coir production regions, mainly in Asia, such as India and Sri Lanka. Upon adding water, these compact blocks rapidly expand into 2 to 2.5 cu ft of growing media, ready to use in various gardening applications. Coir bricks, resembling regular bricks, are lightweight and expand to over 2 gallons of growing media when hydrated. Both coir blocks and bricks are convenient to store and utilize for any potting project.

When purchasing coir, it goes by various names such as coir, coco coir, coco peat, or simply coco. Garden centers, big box stores, and online platforms like Amazon stock coir products, with prime shipping ensuring prompt delivery. For those seeking specific forms, local hydroponic retailers offer coir in block, brick, or pre-expanded bag options. Additionally, coir can be found in many commercially available bagged garden soil products.

In Conclusion

As you embark on your Farming journey, consider incorporating coco coir as your growing medium. Its exceptional properties, eco-friendliness, and ease of use make it a valuable asset for nurturing plants of all types and scales. With coco coir, you'll unlock the full potential of the coconut palm's gift and elevate your gardening experience to new heights. Happy Farming!

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