BENEFITS OF USING COCO COIR WHEN GARDENING
It comes in blocks has seen in the image on the left. Each block has to be rehydrated before use. Most bricks can absorb up to 8 times their mass in water.
In this demonstration, I will be adding some water to the block of coco coir as a way of showing you how the material reacts to water. The coir needs to be submerged in water, so you will need a container large enough to accommodate the block for up 7 – 9 times its original size. The ratio is about 8 to 1, so a block of about 5 kgs will need about 40 kgs of water, which would be roughly 10 to 11 gallons of water, to fully hydrate. Some people use hot tap water to speed up this process.
BENEFITS OF USING COCO COIR WHEN GARDENING
As you can see from the image below the block has literally quadrupled in size. The ruler I am using is measuring 8 inches of coir, compared to its 3-inch size prior to hydration.
Where does coco coir come from
In the image below you can see a demonstration of a coconut cross-section.
Coco coir is made from the fibre of the coconut. This fibrous bit of the fruit is called the husk, seen from the image above. The husk is between the outer skin and the inner shell. In order to remove the fibre from the shell of the coconut. The coconut is soaked in hot saltwater or seawater. After which the fibres are removed from the shell by combing and crushing.
In some Caribbean and Asian shops, the seed part of the fruit is bought and used in cooking and making oil from the hard flesh. The seed of the coconut is extremely hard and in order to get access to the flesh. A hammer as to be used to break open the seed, to get access to the edible fleshy part of the fruit. In a lot of tropical countries, the fleshy bit of the coconut is eaten after the coconut water has been used as a refreshing drink.
So when purchasing coco coir, I have learned that the cheaper brands of coco coir do not always have the salt properly wash out or removed from the fibres. So I would advise you to do a bit of researching around, to find out which manufacturer brands are better at removing the salt from the coco coir.
Uses of Coco Coir
Coco coir is an eco-friendly material that people use in hydroponics gardening. People like myself use it extensively for indoor gardening purposes. One of the primary benefits being that insects do not like coco coir. Usually, when planting indoors there is a tendency to attract aphids and black flies, so the coco coir acts as a natural barrier for your plant.
Coco coir is said to have a neutral ph balance, hence if you are looking for a starter soil for general use around the garden this material is ideal. It has great water retention capabilities, absorbing up to 10 times its weight in water. This is excellent for plants because they won’t become dehydrated. Neither will your plant become waterlogged because coco coir does not hold onto excess water.
Peat Moss or Coco Coir Which is Better?
There are arguments in the gardening world around the use of peat moss and coco coir. However for me, I find when it comes to the blueberries, for example, it is best to use peat moss, the reason being peat moss is highly acidic, whereas coco coir is ph neutral, and blueberries thrive better in acidic soil types. So it’s really a question of finding out what the specific plant requirements are. Then creating the appropriate environment best for the plant to grow in. Some plants might like peat moss better than coco coir, but you will need to do a bit of experimenting.
In Jamaica, we use coconut fibre for a variety of purposes. For instance, it is used as a type of kindle to start an outdoor barbeque fire. Mattress manufacturers use it to make organic and comfortable mattresses. The coconut fibres are also dried and made into a brush which Jamaicans use to buff and shine wood floor surfaces.
I find coco coir is a more expensive option, to the peat moss, but I think the benefits are worth it. Because I don’t get a lot of insects bothering my plants since I’ve been using coco coir. I basically combine it with my compost and use it has a started mix.
The process is quite simple, you just need to continue adding water, crushing and crumbling the block with your hands until it’s all turned into a soft soil-like material. Which looks and feels like compost.
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