Dear Readers, we know by this time you all would be aware of the words like hydroponics, aquaponics, substrate based gardening, etc. – In essence, using a media other than soil for growing plants!!
Among many factors that determine the success of these techniques, the one that plays a vital role is the choice of media used to grow. An ideal growing media should be inert, should have excellent water retention properties, should also allow for air circulation in the root zone, should not allow sunlight to pass through, and should provide sufficient support for roots to hold and give stability to the plants.
There are different kinds of such media available in the market like Cocopeat/Coir Pith, Clay Pebbles/LECA/Expanded Clay/Hydrotons, Perlite, Sphagnum Moss, Vermiculite, Stone Pebbles etc. Every grow media has its pros and cons. When starting out, instead of looking for more pros, it will be a better idea to choose the one with fewer cons.
In this context, cocopeat stands out from the rest, not only to support the plant growth but also to give life to the sapling (germination).
What is Cocopeat:
Cocopeat derives its name from the fact that it comes from the Coconut tree, also known as ‘Kalpvriksha,’ in Hindu mythology because every part of it is useful in some form or other.
Coconut products used in agriculture fields
- Coir pith/coco peat obtained from Coconut Husk
- Coco chips- prepared from the outer shell of the coconut used as media in growing plants
- Coco fiber- used as mulch
- Coco fiber planter- coconut fiber is compressed into various containers to grow plants. Ex. Hanging baskets, pots
Cocopeat also called as coir pith is a spongy material that binds the coconut fiber in the coconut husk. It is a natural and organic media. Its applications in the Agri-Horti fields are increasing due to its excellent soil conditioning properties.
Due to its high moisture retention capacity, it is extensively used as a growing medium nursery for production of seedlings, growing of orchids and anthuriums.
What properties make the best cocopeat:
Within Cocopeat, there are different qualities. The superior grades which have low EC, low Moisture, and low fiber are generally used to cater to export markets. An ideal cocopeat should have low EC, low fiber content, pH suitable to needs of root zone, i.e., 5.5 to 6.5, good expansion ratio (upwards of 1:10). While looking to buy Cocopeat, do look for these parameters before buying. You can also go for Export Grade Cocopeat that is sold by us on our website, Amazon, and Flipkart.
How to prepare grow media with cocopeat:
Break the cocopeat block with water and bring it to powder form by mixing it well. Ensure the addition of right amount of water (should not be too wet or too dry). If using CityGreen’s Cocopeat brick, use as follows:-
- Take a large tub or container. Remove the shrinkwrap and place the cocopeat brick in the tub.
- Add approx 25 liters of water and wait for 10 minutes. Let the brick absorb water and expand naturally.
- Mix the cocopeat with your hands now. Blocks should break easily. Add water if needed.
Now add this cocopeat to soil or add some other inert media to cocopeat before using it. The reason for same is explained in point No. 3 below.
Gardening tips with Cocopeat:
- Adding neem cake to Cocopeat can help avoid nematodes and many fungal infections. You can do that while mixing the cocopeat.
- Add Cocopeat to Soil (50:50 mix) for improving soil profile. Since Cocopeat has pH of 5.5 to 6.5, it conditions soil well and also enhances aeration in the soil. This ensures better nutrient uptake by the plants.
- Do not use cocopeat alone (apart from for germination of seeds). This is because of the best quality of cocopeat which becomes a bane if not controlled. We are talking about water holding capacity. Over time, cocopeat holds a lot of moisture which leads to compressing of the growing mix. With compression, the air pockets reduce and the roots can get starved of oxygen leading to slower growth. Thus, it is a good idea to mix cocopeat with other inert media like vermiculite, perlite, gravel, coco chips, wood shavings, rice husk, or clay pebble, etc. for the better aeration. At CityGreen’s Research Centre for Urban Gardening, our choice of media to mix with cocopeat is gravel and clay pebbles.
- Do remember that Cocopeat is an inert medium. It does not contain any nutrients of its own. Hence nutrients need to be supplied externally. You can achieve that by mixing the nutrients like compost or manure in cocopeat or by using liquid nutrients like the ones provided by CityGreens.
Can Cocopeat be used to grow all kind of plants:
Yes. All Kinds of plants can be grown in this media. be it flowers, or succulents, or leafy greens, or vegetables, or root crops, or even medicinal herbs. We have used coco peat to grow many of these plants in our Research Centre.
The easiest and simplest way to get rid of all soil related troubles is to use coco peat. And the availability and the affordability make it a most usable option for any avid gardener! So take heart- try with one type of plant- and you will see how easily it vouches for itself with the way the plants grow in this medium as well as with the ease of the method of growing it!
Sometimes you choose your profession. Sometimes God chooses your profession for you. For me it was the latter – The quest to find purpose and expression came in the form of my work. A connection with soil, water, growth and life.
As a kid, I would secretly wish that grown-up life was just like my childhood – running around luscious green fields, feeding the farm cows, chasing and being chased by hens, goats, cousins, the wind in my hair, the rain on my face, the smell of the earth after a rain, and the sound of non-stop laughter.
It was a sad day, when I realised that my wish was just that – a wish! Its been a personal mission for me to recreate the magic of my childhood in any way possible and contribute to clean air, smiling faces, nourishing food, happier homes all with a sense of awe and gratitude. Thus I found my way to CityGreens – here I help people sow, plant, nurture, care and harvest plants. Through plants a better home and life.
When I was not running around and playing with my cousins and farm animals I also managed to do my B.Tech and MBA.