Coco and Coir Peat Fibre Growing Medium, a Review-Why go Peatless?

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Product: Coco and Coir Peat Fibre Growing Medium

The Best Place to Buy: www.amazon.co.uk

Size of the Compost Package: 30.5cm x 30.5cm x 11cm

Volume of Compost Made: 70 litres

Shipping Weight: 4.54kg

My score: 8.5/10

Container gardeners tend to have many containers that need to be filled with growing media. This growing media normally is a multipurpose compost, an ericaceous compost or a soil based compost (compost mixed with top soil).

The problem is that multipurpose compost tends to have peat in various quantities, which has to be harvested from peat bogs. This is not environmentally friendly, so container gardeners have to look to alternatives. Ericaceous compost and soil-based compost are the same, so we have to look to other solutions to satisfy our container gardening needs.

This is where coir compost comes in, as it is a natural waste product of the coconut industry.

IT IS LIGHTER THAN NORMAL COMPOST

If you go into any garden centre to buy your compost, and you buy a 70 litre or a 120 litre bale, you will discover how much a compost bale actually weighs. If you lift these bales all day you will be a strong person. This is especially true if the compost is stored outside, where the rainwater will be absorbed by the compost, making it even heavier. Rain water also leaches some of the nutrients, so it a double whammy.

It is difficult for the less able or those who do not have a car, where delivery costs of compost are very steep. Yet again we must look to a new product, which is these coir compost bricks, a compost that is not only environmentally friendly but light to carry, compared to normal bags of compost.

WHAT IS COIR COMPOST?

Coir is a waste product of the coconut industry, where the fibrous husks of the inner shell of the coconut are used. The product is widely used in making rugs, ropes, brushes, upholstery, and even hanging basket liners. Coir does not break down in moisture, making it an excellent container compost.

Coir takes a lot of effort to produce. Firstly the outer husks are soaked until the fibres can be separated from the hard shells. This is then graded and sorted. The normal brown coir is made from matured coconuts, whilst white coir is made from immature green coconuts, where the fibres are finer and softer.

Horticultural coir is a peat substitute that is made out of the pith formed between the fibres. This coir pith is washed, treated, sieved, graded and then dried, before being compressed into bricks or blocks or sold loosely in a bag.

HOW TO USE COIR COMPOST?

Coir can be used in containers alone or mixed with multipurpose compost. As a starting mix for seeds do not use more than 40% coir by volume, as it is too coarse for most seeds to be germinated.

As said previously if you use coir compost then less peat needs to be harvested, and so benefiting the environment. It can be used with your sieved homemade compost to make your own container blend. The coir compost can be mixed in any ratio with multipurpose compost to make a more water retentive mixture.

I have used coir compost on its own with great success, providing that it is not used to germinate seeds. The coir compost is best used for vegetable growing provided that a slow released fertilizer is mixed with it. This is because coir compost does not have many nutrients associated with it.

Coir absorbs more water than peat by 30%, so will replace quite easily the job that peat used to do. It is also easier to re-wet than peat when it dries, so it is a good idea to add some to any container to make it more moisture retentive.

Coconuts grow throughout the year and are harvested every 2 months, where peat will take hundreds of years to regenerate. There is no competition.

HOW TO PREPARE AND RECONSTITUTE A BRICK?

This 4.5kg brick comes in a compressed form, which makes it easier to transport and to carry.

To turn the brick into useful compost, you need to add water. First place the brick in a large container (I mean a very large container), where it will increase up to 6 times its original volume so that this 4.5kg brick will expand to around 70 litres of compost. You will need to follow instructions to determine how much water to add, as this is so much depended on the coir compost that is bought.

The water that is added must be as hot as possible, as this will make the reconstitution process easier and quicker. Cold water takes ages, so what I do is boil a kettle and mix cold water with it before adding the brick. Make sure that the water is warm enough to handle without burning yourself.

It takes around 15-30 minutes for the outer part of the brick to start breaking away. You can speed up the breaking up of the rest by getting stuck in with your hands and breaking up the rest. This is why the water temperature is very important.

Do not touch if it is still too warm. This will expose new areas that can be wetted and allows the coir fibres to soften. Eventually, all the compost brick will have turned into a fine texture compost, with all the water being absorbed. This is what can be used to fill containers or mixed with compost as suggested above.

PROS

• It is slow to decompose, so last longer in containers.

• It is sterile and weed free

• It is less acidic than normal multipurpose compost, therefore more beneficial to grow a wide range of plants. If your plant like acidic compost then I suggest you mix it with sulphate of iron and monitor its pH level until the desired growing conditions are met.

• Makes the compost more free flowing and will improve moisture retention.

• It is easier to water and re-wet, when it dries out the coir turns a lighter brown. The coir in effect is telling you that it is thirsty so that you can give it a drink.

• Coir is environmentally friendly and a waste product of the coconut industry.

• Coir compost may offer some resistant to some root diseases, but the jury is still out.

CONS

• Coir will compact over time, which will mean that requires topping up once in a while.

• Water retention means that inorganics salts can build up, which could be dangerous to the plants.

• There is little calcium in coir, so plants may become calcium deficient.

• Coir does not have many nutrients in them, apart from potassium and some micronutrients. It is better to add a slow release fertilizer to the coir compost mix before planting. I would also top up with slow release fertilizer every spring if you are planning to have a plant long term.

• Cost is more expensive than multipurpose compost, as it is not so widely used in the garden. This should come down with increased usage.

WHY SHOULD I BUY COIR?

I have used coir compost for a number of years and find it very beneficial. My plants did well in them, provided it was watered when dry and extra feed was added.

I would recommend the product not to fill all your containers, as this will be expensive. Instead, I would use in with plants that require moisture, such as blog loving plants. My recommendation would be to fill your containers with a mix of 80% compost and 20% coir, and use that mixture. In a small container, I recommend that pure coir is used, and the best place to buy it is here.

If you have any questions or comments that you wish to raise, please leave it in the comment box below.

Spread the word, as you spread the compost.

Thanks.


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12 thoughts on “Coco and Coir Peat Fibre Growing Medium, a Review-Why go Peatless?”

  1. Hey Antonio

    Thanks a lot for the very thorough review and details explanation on Coco and Coir Peat Fiber Growing Medium. You did an excellent job by highlighting the best features in it.

    I’ve been planning to use coir compost for my garden. Your review here have explain everything i need to know about it. I’m going to buy it this weekend.

    Thank you for this comprehensive post.

    All The best
    Samm

    1. Hi Samm

      Coir compost offers so much to the gardener that I am surprised people are not using it more. 

      Thank you for those kind words

      Antonio

  2. Thanks,Antonio.
    My mother is an avid lover of gardening and research on new methods of gardening bought me to your site. It was quite surprised to go through the content as you explained in detail everything on the peatless gardening including the pros and cons of the process.
    Please suggest what to do if coir is compressed over a period of time and how to remove inorganic salts from the plant while water retention.

    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur.

    1. Hi Gaurav

      Thank you for those kind words. Compression can be solve by gently loosening the coir by using a hand fork and then replenishing with some new coir. The build up of organic salts can be cured by once a month flushing the container with pure water.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  3. I am not a big gardener myself, but my husband loves everything to do with gardens and plants and anything that can help him improve the look and quality of his beloved plants he will buy. Thank you for sharing this post with us, i did not know  we could actually buy this from Amazon. I will order for him, I know he will be impressed. Might not be the most romantic gift but I am sure he will definitely be happy with it

    1. Hi Barbara

      I can think of more romantic gifts but I do appreciate the gesture. Yes, it is very surprising what you can buy from Amazon, and I am sure your husband would appreciate it.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  4. Is there a news of breakthrough in Coir regarding more nutrients so as not to add fertilizer? And how are you able to prevent water retention as you said it can build up inorganic salts?

    This is a good news especially if you are claiming that its good to the environment. The cost however is expensive because coconuts are only grown in tropical countries. Hopefully, there will be a better research and upgrade in coir compost to lessen the cons of this product. 

    Thank you for this wonderful review. Some gardeners do not know which compost to use their plants. Like me, I have no idea that looking for a perfect compost and knowing its components is a particular issue in gardening.

    1. Hi Missus

      Thank you for your comment and to answer your questions, probably in the future coir will have nutrients added to it, in a similar way that cereals have added vitamins and minerals. This will take the need to add fertiliser to the coir. The inorganic salts can be reduced by watering once a month with pure water, as this will wash the salts out.

      It is good for the environment as it is a waste product and I  can see it being increasingly used in container gardening.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  5. This is something I had not known before I read your article.  It is good to know that something like this can be recycled back into the garden to enich the food we grow!
    I like the fact that it is lightweight, a lot more easier to carry and it makes for a lot more quantity because of it’s compressed state.
    Being weed free is what I like, we have so many weeds and thorns on our ground, it makes keeping the garden tidy a lot more tiresome, but that this is weed free will help greatly!
    The best fact is that it isn’t that expensive!  It is well within a medium budget range gardeners in our part of the world, so it is definitely affordable.
    Thank you so much for putting this information together so we can make an informed decision!

    1. Hi

      Thank you for those kind words, it is very much appreciated. You highlighted the reason very well and it I’d a waste product produced by the coconut industry, which is an added bonus.

      Kind regards

      Antonio

  6. Hey Antonio,

    This is really an unique and informative article. I have heard about this  coco and coir peat fibre growing compost medium. But the concept about it was never so clear than it is now. Now I know why is it better than other composts as it’s so light weight and we don’t need multi-purpose composts. So I will buy it in future for the betterment of my plants.

    Thank you for sharing su much informations.

    1. Hi Mahin

      It was a pleasure and you are right coir compost will become more important in the future if we want to save our plant.

      Kind regards

      Antonio

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