The coco coir is also known as coco fiber. It is a by-product made from the fibrous husk from the inner sheath of the mature coconut fruit. Earlier, it was thought of as a waste material of coconut, but now it is quite popular in the agriculture and gardening sector. Coir is an environment-friendly and sustainable matter, which is gaining much acceptance in many conventional uses. It comes in different forms that are valuable for container gardens, farming, and agriculture areas.
How Coco Coir is manufactured?
The manufacturing process of coco coir consists of several steps. The first step is to soak the coconut husks in saltwater or freshwater to make them soft. After softening, the coco coir is separated from the husks and disbursed out for drying for a long period of time. The dryness totally depends on the thickness and local conditions of the area, as it can take up to a year. The better is the dryness of coir, the greater will be the quality of the end-product. Finally, the coir is organized into bales and then are further processed for various forms.
What are Different Types of Coco Coir?
During the manufacturing of coco coir, different types of coco coir are produced, which are tailored for certain uses. Let’s look at the types;
This is also known as the coco peat. It looks like a finely grounded coconut husk and a powder form of coco coir. It is lightweight, small, super-absorbent, and a growing medium for the roots of the plants. It is generally used as an element for soil conditioning and in potting mixtures. It should be aged appropriately as a growth media, otherwise, the salt will let out and may kill the plant.
After the extensive drying period, the long fibers are separated from the coconut husks-called coir fiber. It further can be used without any process as an air pocket for the plants in growing media. It provides oxygen to the roots for the healthy growth of plants. Moreover, it increases the drainage or porosity of the soil. It is also used in decorative industries like hanging plant baskets.
The coco chips are the natural hybrid of coco fiber and coco pith. It is actually a type of expanded clay pellet, which acts as an air pocket in a growth medium. The coco chips are quite chunky in size and absorb water- they are used to retain moisture for the soil.
What are the Key Benefits of Using Coco Coir in Gardening and Agriculture?
There are many benefits of using coco coir/coco fiber that will amaze you. Let’s start discovering them;
● The coco coir/coco fiber breakdown slowly as compares to other organic materials, which are used in garden soil, farming soil, and potting mixture. The slow disintegration means it is less likely to be regenerated or replaced.
● It has an excellent combination of aeration, water retention, and drainage. These provide oxygenation as well space for the plant roots to grow.
● It has a neutral pH level that is great for nutrient availability to soil and roots.
● It is plentiful in bio-stimulants and hormones, which enhance root health and plant growth.
● Further, it has amazing anti-fungal properties that help in reducing the damping-off seedling and fungal growth.
● The coco coir/coco fiber may be a source of vital nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc, and magnesium.
● It is lightweight and hydrophilic in nature, which makes it easily re-wet whenever it dries out.
● Coco coir has natural lignins that encourage the growth of beneficial bacterial in the root for growth.
● Lastly, it is easily compressed to ⅕ size than its original one, which is great for transportation and storage for agriculture or gardening.
What Are Some Uses of Coco Coir in Agriculture?
Here are various uses of coco coir in the agriculture sector;
Used as Mulch
The coco coir can be used as mulch in agriculture. During cultivating trenches, the farmers create the layer of coco coir and cover it with soil. They create many layers in this way. This process helps in conversing the water to keep the soil moisturized.
Used as Fertilizer
The coco coir is used as a fertilizer for agriculture purposes in two different ways. Firstly, by burning the coco coir and then the ashes are used as an excellent fertilizer. Secondly, the beneficial way is to use natural coconut husk as it will perish into the soil. The second-way act as a natural fertilizer with numerous benefits for soil and plant.
Used at Hydrophobic Industry
The coco coir is highly recommended to use in the hydrophobic industry in agriculture. It conserves water content and keeps moisturized the soil or plant root.
What are the Uses of Coco Coir in Gardening?
The coco coir is an excellent addition to the gardening area. It can be used as soil amendments and soil potting as it makes the soil porous. So, the following are some uses of coco coir for gardeners;
Used in Flower Beds and Vegetable Gardens
The chunky coco coir is soaked in water then essential nutrients are added to the soil of flowers beds and vegetable gardens. It nourishes the soil by improving the texture, which in turn provides beneficial growth to plants.
Used in Hydroponic System
The coco coir has many properties, which make it a perfect choice for a hydroponic system. The ability to retain water, antifungal activity, slowly decomposing, and neutral pH are great for such systems in gardens. Just add the vital nutrients to the coco coir and use them in hydroponic.
Used in Container Plants
The coco coir is quite beneficial for container plants. It is used as the soil topper as well as the bottom of the container. When it is used to cover upper soil, it prevents evaporation. In contrast, when used at the bottom, it retains moisture.
Used in Seed Starting
The coco coir pellets are used as soil discs for seed starting. It is good for seedlings because it has a biodegradable composition and room for the expansion of roots. It consistently hydrates the seedling by retaining moisture.
Used in Hanging Baskets and Planters
The hanging planter’s box and hanging basket love to hug coco coir. It perfectly lines the planter or basket, which creates attractive, breathable, and natural pots. It holds the plant potting media in place, retaining water, and slowly provides the water to growing plants. Moreover, the coco coir porous nature makes it oxygenated.
How to Use Coco Coir?
In gardens, farms, and agricultural areas, the 40% coco coir is mixed with potting mixture or soil. For starting seedlings, it is recommended to use coir pith. It can be used alone and can be mixed with other amendments like perlite or rice hulls. With other combinations, it provides amazing results in drainage, water retention, and aeration.
How to Choose Good Quality Coco Coir?
The first point to be noted in selecting good quality coco coir-how it is produced, harvested, and processed. As many buyers have no idea about these qualities so look out for best sellers out there. The other factor while looking out for coco coir is consistency. It should have desirable consistency and be free from pathogens, seeds, or weeds.
In brief, coco coir is an eco-friendly material and a useful end-product of coconut. It is made through a natural process of a substantial period of time. It has different forms that are used for various purposes for soil, root, and plant. It has life-giving benefits that include water retention, moisturizing, aeration, drainage, and nutrient supply. Lastly, it is used in agriculture as a natural fertilizer or mulch. In gardening, it is used in hanging planters, container plants, seed starting, and hydroponic systems.