Coconut Coir: What It Is, How To Use It, And The Best Brands To Buy

Ed Wike
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What is Coconut Coir?

Coconut Coir is made from the husk of coconuts. The coconut is a seed that is of flowering plant. Coconut Coir is similar to peat moss. It is a sustainable by-product that is rapidly gaining popularity in the gardening world. As an organic growing medium or soil additive it has a number of wonderful benefits.

Coconut Coir is an excellent substitute for peat moss in any application. It holds moisture very well, which is ideal for container gardening. It helps aerate the root soil area, which prevents the root system from becoming compacted. It is not a wood fiber, which is what peat moss is. Therefore, it holds nutrients better, because it does not leach like wood. It also suppresses the growth of any unwanted weeds. Coconut Coir does not burn plants, like peat moss has been known to do.

Coconut Coir is a by-product of the food industry and is sold in bulk quantities. The popularity of using it as a soil supplement has grown in recent years. Your local nursery probably does not sell it, but they are likely to order it for you if you ask. You may also need to buy it from a specialty grocery store or an online retailer. You can purchase it in compressed bricks, bags or pellets. It is usually sold in fifty pound blocks, but it can also be purchased in compressed bricks or even as a growing medium.

How is Coco Coir Made?

Coco coir (coconut fiber) is made by harvesting the fibrous part of the coconut husk and soaking it in order to separate the beneficial elements. Like peat moss, coco coir is harvested from a natural environment and is therefore considered a natural product. The majority of coco coir sold in stores is derived from coconut husks. It's a renewable resource that does not deplete the soil or the trees. This valuable resource is also used as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Food Grade vs. Gardening Grade

Coco coir does not have to be certified or tested to become a food-grade material but the product is usually made with safety in mind. The thing that you have to be careful of when buying coco coir is that it can be sold for both gardening or hydroponics, and a lot of products have their ingredients listed on the packaging. It's not a very good idea to let your kids eat something that will be used for feeding your garden.

One way to know if the packaging is talking about food grade material or gardener's grade material is to see if the ingredients are disclosed. Look for something that says a natural product extracted in a certain way. If it doesn't say anything like that then put it back on the shelf and keep looking.

Pros and Cons to Coconut Coir

Coconut coir is made from the husks of coconuts. When it is made, the tops and outer skin are removed and the husk is dried to kill any pests. Then coconut fiber left over after the coconut meat is removed from the shell. It has a high absorption rate and is lightweight, making it great for using in hydroponics. It is naturally anti-microbial which means that it does not create the perfect environment for the spores of the fungi, mold, and bacteria to grow.

One of the biggest benefits of coconut coir over the growing mediums of soil and clay is that it is pH neutral, which limits the amount of nutrients that are required to keep the plant growing. While soil and clay both need an addition of nutrients and water, coconut coir requires less water. Another benefit of coconut coir is its ability to hold up to four times its weight in water, which means that it is moisture retentive and will stay moist.

Benefits of Coco Coir

Pros of a coco coir substrate include:

) Less mess.

Unlike soil substrates, coco coir will not turn into a muddy, soggy mess. If you have gravel substrate, messy root rot is possible as well.

) No algae!

Coco coir has a natural resistance to algae. Which means it won't turn green and you won't have to do as much water change to keep it clean.

) Faster recovery.

When used as a substrate, coco coir can house and house plant with extra root mass to them. This will provide your aquatic companion with a lot more growing potential.

) Better for fish with sensitive skin.

Because coco coir is just a fiber, it can't cause any skin irritation – as seen with gravel. If you're breeding fish, the benefit can be seen as less eggs will be affected by fungus.

Downsides to Coco Coir

Coco coir is definitely one of the best options available, but there are still some problems with it that people need to be aware of.

A. Buying it in bulk is expensive if you don’t plan to use a lot.

B. It’s hard to find in smaller quantities.

C. It’s important to clean it well because it’s not sterile.

Types of Coco Coir

This is literally made from the fiber extracted from coconut bark. Over a period of 10 to 15 months, coconuts pass through a torturous process of being stripped from the branches by hand and being left on the ground to dry and rot. In some parts of the world, the process involves the use of machinery, but in the Philippines, coconut fiber is processed in an environment that protects it from chemicals. The result is a form of coir fiber that's extremely absorbent.

Peat-Based Coir

Peat-based coir is the coir made from peat moss. This variety of coir does not completely decay. As a result, it continues to add nutrients and minerals to the environment while serving as a great mulch. When used as a growing medium, peat-based coir tends to develop an excessive amount of moisture over time. Also, since it does not decompose, you should be careful about adding coir to your garden.

Water-Based Coir

Water-based coir is the usual gardening variety, simply ground coconut husk. It still retains all of the beneficial properties of the other coirs.

Coco Pith or Coco Peat

Coco pith is the soft inner flesh of the coconut.

Coco peat is coconut fiber that has been processed and dried. It has the benefits of soil and has been used as an alternative to peat moss. Coco peat is heat sterilized and often contains fungicides. Use fresh coconut coir, not the heat sterilized and processed Coco peat.

Coco peat sold in the US is referred to as "Coco coir" or "Coco chips": "Chips" because it is granular, like small reptile food pellets, or "colormix" because you can buy it in different colors. It is more readily available than coconut fiber and comes pre-flavored with the rich properties of dark molded compost when it is heat-treated.The heat sterilization destroys the beneficial fungi and bacteria that live in wild coconut fiber.

Coco pith is the soft inner flesh of the coconut.

Coco peat is coconut fiber that has been processed and dried. It has the benefits of soil and has been used as an alternative to peat moss. Coco peat is heat sterilized and often contains fungicides. Use fresh coconut coir, not the heat sterilized and processed Coco peat.

Coco Fiber

For Hydroponics – Is It Worth It?

Coco coir is actually coconut husk. It's fibers are used in things like fishing poles, filters, as surgical packing and in soil pre-mixes. For the hydroponic gardener it was used for growing orchids for a long time. It actually provides a highly cost-effective option for the home gardener.

So, why don't hydroponic stores carry coco coir? The truth is that many of them are simply unaware of the alternative. They may also think it's an inferior product and not worth carrying. The more popular potting soil formulas contain a coir product, so you will have to be confident enough to shop at your local hydroponic store.

Coco coir is a tropical plant, like a coconut palm, that grows in places like Malaysia, India and Columbia. The fibers are typically shipped in bales and then compressed into bricks. Coco brick suppliers usually have a two-year supply of bales on hand and are ready to fill orders immediately. Demand is increasing over time which causes suppliers to keep more bricks handy.

This is not uncommon for many items that are only used by the hydroponic gardener. Some of these items include Bat Guano, Black Gold, and Gamma-Bio.

Coco Chips

Vs. Coco Coir

Coco (or Coco Coir) is made from coconut fibers, a material that adds tons of beneficial microbes to your soil.

Coco Coir Coconut Husk

Coco chips are a type of Coco Coir made up of small balls/beads that are produced from Coco Coir by breaking it up into small chunks.

Coco chips are a relatively new version of Coco Coir and many growers rely on it as well.

You can use Coco chips in the exact same way as Coco chips and its benefits are exactly the same. However, since it is in a smaller, more dense form, Coco chips adsorb water faster than Coco Coir, resulting in faster drainage.

Coco is used a lot in Hydroponic Gardening as well as in the growing of medical marijuana, while Coco Coir is used more commonly in the gardens of hobbyists and professional growers.

How to Choose High Quality Coco Coir

Coconut coir is a by-product of coconut fiber extraction. It is the most nutrient-rich, stable, and affordable growing medium available, and it’s easy to use and re-use.

Composted coco coir is 100% natural, 100% organic, and is the safe solution to chemical or plastic fertilizers. In addition, coir has shown to have a high cation exchange capacity and acts as a powerful buffer for balancing your plant roots' need for acids and alkalines.

The best coir for gardening should contain the following:

    • Little or no root damage
    • No chemical smells
    • High percentage of coconut fiber
  • Absence of weed seeds.

Coconut coir’s excellent ability to hold moisture, swell, and not compact also makes it a wonderful medium for potting soil (peat moss is not a suitable alternative for potting soil). The bigger the pores, the more holding capacity your potting soil will have. Coconut coir will also hold more nutrients and water, making it very economical for your money: a little bit will go a very long way. When potting your plants, use a sufficiently-sized pot, and make sure that you have holes in the bottom for drainage.

The Best Coco Coir For Your Garden

Coconut Coir (or coconut fiber) is getting a lot of attention lately. And it should, for it is one of the most sustainable products around.

It is made from the husk of the coconut, which is a renewable resource, and can be reused over and over.

It is low-maintenance, takes up very little space and is perfect for growing a wide variety of plants,.

As an added bonus, the coconut fragrance is absolutely intoxicating!

The benefits of Coconut Coir are pretty amazing too. It is believed to have many health benefits and is used in many natural skin and beauty products. It also helps reduce the risk of your exposure to disease-causing pathogens.

What are some of the amazing benefits of Coco Coir?

It Increases Water Retention in Sandy Soil

It increases the acidity of your soil, which helps ward off diseases on your plants.

As a mulch, Coco Coir reduces erosion.

It helps suppress nematodes, due to its high pH.

It Helps Protect Plants from Pests

The bottom line is that your garden will be a lot healthier and beautiful when you use Coco Coir!

What Nutrients Do You Need for Coconut Coir?

You already know that coco coir features some of the best nutrient values per litter. What you may not know is that it also offers measurable amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese, which is better than peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.

But the big question for most people is: “What does this mean for my plants?”

Randy Lutz, a vegetable gardener and author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual, uses coconut coir as an amendment to mineralize the soil in his vegetable garden. He says:

Randy Lutz | The Organic Lawn Care Examiner

“Coco coir is great stuff. I use it to replace part of the sand that I have to add when potting up vegetable transplants.

If you're using it to amend a soil/compost for growing vegetables, you're probably able to use the same ratio of compost to coir that you'd use for the other amendments. It makes the soil more aerated. It's also good for hardening off plants (transplants).