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.
• 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.
• 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.