Are you planning out your next indoor garden? What kind of growing medium do you intend on using? Many growers are switching to coco coir for their substrate, and for a good reason.
Whether you’re growing hydroponically or in soil, coco coir presents a viable option for your next crop.
So, should you make the change to using coco coir? This post unpacks everything you need to know about this substrate and how it can benefit your indoor garden.
We’ll look at the manufacturing process and the reasons why it makes such a good growing medium for your indoor garden.
What Is Coco Coir? How Is It Manufactured?
Coco coir is a natural manufacturing byproduct of coconut harvesting and production. Essentially, it’s the fibrous husk of the coconut shell, and it has little commercial value as animal feed.
Instead, it’s become a popular substrate to replace many organic and hydroponic growing mediums.
Coco coir first appeared on the gardening scene in the 1900s. However, it soon fell out of favor with growers because of the substrate’s poor natural nutrient quality. The introduction of other fertilizers at the time sent coco coir to the shelf on many gardening stores.
Toward the 1980s and 1990s, coco coir saw a resurgence as a substrate, especially for indoor growing. The lightweight, fibrous nature of the substrate makes it ideal for growers that want to add and control nutrients to the substrate. As a result, it’s becoming a popular choice for hydroponic growers.
However, organic growers also see benefits from adding coco coir to their organic soil preparations. Coco coir helps to improve airflow to the roots of the plants, spurring growth.
During the manufacturing process, the coco coir grains go through the retting process. This process soaks the husks making it easy for the removal from the shell. The dry husks then underwent packaging into coir pots, discs, or bricks and distributed as coco coir.
What are the Different Types of Coco Coir?
You get three types of coco coir.
Many indoor gardeners choose to use a blend of all three in their substrate. The pith has a dense feel and a similar look to peat moss. It often comes in bricks and has a rich, brown color. This substrate tends to hold onto water because of its dense packing, so it’s important to bear that in mind as you could drown your plants with too much water retention.
Coco fiber comes as stringy bunches that are easy to add to richer, denser soil. They have a stringy appearance, and the fibers add space for the roots to grow and receive oxygen, improving the airflow in the soil. The fiber is also very hardy, and many gardeners choose to reuse it.
The coco chips consist of small chunks of coco coir, and they combine with the other two types to form a holistic substrate solution for the gardener.
What are the Benefits Of Using Coconut Coir Over Other Growing Mediums?
There are plenty of benefits to using coco coir in your indoor garden. Let’s go through the pros and cons of using this substrate for your next crop.
Faster Harvests with Bigger Yields
When gardeners use coco coir for drain-to-waster gardening practices, they receive excellent results. Provided that the grower has the right nutrients in their reservoir, the plants will thrive thanks to increased airflow around the roots.
Encourages Large Root Systems
Since coco coir fibers create space in the pot, the plant has more room to expand its root system without wasting energy on the effort to penetrate firmer soils. The result is bigger plants with higher yields.
Coco coir comes with a neutral pH. Since the material, especially the chips and fibers, cannot hold nutrients, there is no initial impact on your growing substrate pH. Coco coir fibers and chips typically come with a pH of around 5.2 to 6.8.
Since there are no nutrients in the fiber and chips, gardeners will need to add synthetic or organic nutrients to the substrate or soil mix to give the plant the nutrition to thrive. You’ll still need nutrient support because this range will fluctuate over time.
Reduces Pests and Pathogens
One of the issues with using organic mediums is the chance for pests and diseases on your plants. Even the best quality oil comes with organic material that could present a threat to your crop.
Bugs and diseases can overwinter in soils, and if you get a low-quality soil mix, the eggs and pathogens in the soil could mature and start invading your crop. With coco coir, you don’t risk pathogens or insect eggs lying dormant in the soil.
Eco-conscious Growing Medium
Coco coir is the eco-friendly option for your next crop. This material is the byproduct of coconut production, and the removal process from the shell creates no emissions.
Coco coir is sustainable, and there are minimal markets for the product outside of agriculture. It’s a more sustainable choice than peat. Peat comes from natural quarries and bogs that have significant importance to local wildlife populations.
Remediable and Reusable Growing Medium
As long as your plants don’t experience disease or pest infestation, you can keep using the coco coir.
Since gardeners have to add fertilizers to the substrate, it never really degrades to an extent where you need to throw it away.
Are There Any Drawbacks of Using Coco Coir Over Other Growing Mediums?
Sure, even coco coir has its limitations when providing your indoor garden with the results you expect from your crop.
Understanding the characteristics of coco coir will help you select the right substrate for your indoor garden.
Higher Salt Content in Some Brands
Check that the manufacturer soaks the husks in freshwater, not saltwater, as this practice could kill your plant. If you’re not sure, it’s a good practice to rinse and dry your coco coir before use.
Some manufacturers may treat the coco coir with chemicals to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, or insects in the material. Always check the manufacturer’s label before you buy your product.
Is It Worth It to Grow in Coco Vs. other Grow Mediums? Why not give coco coir a try for your next crop? Sure, you might have to feed your plants daily, but you’ll find the results impressive.