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Frann Leach

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Organic Gardening:

Coir Used As a Potting Medium


Coir is the small fibers or dust that is produced when coconuts are husked and the long exterior fibers are processed for making products like brushes, rope and upholstery stuffing. The dust and small fibers that are leftover is the byproduct that is processed into what is called coconut peat or coir peat for use as a soil amendment and soilless potting media the same way you would use peat.

Coir is an excellent growing media. It has the ability to retain both moisture and nutrients over an extended period of time and is a natural alternative to peat. It can retain up to nine times it's volume in moisture while still maintaining excellent aeration.Depending on the grade of coir It has a ph level of 5.5 to 6.5 which is more natural than peat which can have a ph level of as low as 3.5 to a high level of 7.5.Coir is used for both commercial and home gardening use because of the ability it has not to compact like ordinary soil does.This provides for better soil aeration for the plants to receive oxygen to there root system.

The one main common problem that you can have with coir depending on the grade is it can be high in salt. The different grades are processed with different methods and if not washed the salt content can be high. Coir is also high in phosphorous and potassium along with a high cation exchange capacity. This high cation exchange capacity gives it the ability to store moisture and nutrients to be released over a long period of time. Attention needs to be taken with the type of fertilizer you use if you are use to using peat.

As a soil amendment coir is excellent to use with any type of soil, from breaking up heavy clay soils to helping sandy soils retain moisture. Coir is also excellent to use as a soilless potting media or a potting soil amendment.

For environmental reasons the use of coir helps to save our wetlands which is where peat is commercially extracted.

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