Coconut coir is made from the coarse fibers that are found in the husk which surrounds the actual coconut. This part of the coconut has long been regarded as a useless waste product in the coconut production of tropical countries such as India and Sri Lanka, but it has recently been introduced as an alternative growing medium with great potential. It is an excellent alternative to peat moss, rock wool and perlite, and in fact surpasses the potential of these substances.
Coconut coir has a superior capacity for retaining water and provides excellent drainage and air space, as well as remaining for a longer period in the soil, as it does not decompose. It is also a much more environmentally friendly product as it is completely sustainable, and actually utilizes a previously discarded bi- product, whereas peat extraction can involve serious environmental damage.
Coconut coir can be used as a growing medium in hydroponic cultures and by traditional gardeners to amend soils in gardens, potted plants and containers, and it is also being used increasingly by commercial plant producers. It encourages plants to develop a more extended and healthier root system, making them more resistant to weeds, disease and pathogens, and reducing the need for added fertilizers.
Coir improves the natural flow of moisture through the soil and acts a as a soil conditioner. In sandy soils, where nutrients and moisture are easily washed away from the plant, the coir maintains these where the plant can benefit from them. In clay soils, where the water and nutrients are often trapped within the heavy soil, the coir opens up passageways through the hard packed earth to facilitate the absorption of the elements that the plant needs to develop. Its fibrous consistency helps to prevent soil erosion and it is also a perfect growth medium in hydroponic cultures. It facilitates seed germination by maintaining an optimum and constant level of both water and air, and being naturally disease and weed free it is especially advantageous for delicate seedlings.
For potted plants and containers mix one part coir to two parts of soil, or potting mix for best results. The same ratio mixed into the top soil of an outdoor garden or raised bed will greatly improve the soil structure and water retention capacity, making for happier and healthier plants.
The coir is collected, screened, graded and washed before being compressed into blocks. This makes it very convenient to transport and store and when ready to use the brick is simply hydrated. The brick of coconut coir should be left in water for about an hour, during which time it will greatly expand in volume, and a fully hydrated block will hold eight to ten times its volume of water.
As mentioned previously coir offers an excellent sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to peat moss. It is also easier to hydrate and maintains its effectiveness over a longer period of time, as well as being completely free from diseases, bacteria, fungal spores, seeds, weeds, and pathogens.
With a neutral pH of between 5.8 and 6.8 coir assists the release of nutrients into the roots of your plants and so reduces the need to use dolomite lime.
Coconut coir is an excellent, effective and natural way to improve you soil structure and produces a perfect growing medium for all your plants.
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