Where does Coco peat come from? Is it a fertilizer?
No. It is the fibers removed from coconut husk and processed into a usable crushed form. The most relevant property of coco peat w.r.t. gardening is its ability to retain moisture yet allow drainage. Another includes being lightweight. These two combined together have enabled it to be used in numerous ways in the garden for everything – sowing, transplanting, covering & what-not. Coco peat is usually available as compressed bricks, blocks & discs that need to be soaked in water to use.
The first thing that confuses a newbie gardener is definitely soil.
One, it is different everywhere. Two, the information we read may not always be local to us and most fail at choosing the right kind of potting mix for plants. I’d done some experiments as a beginner too – one of them being, replacing soil with coco peat since it was all the rage! An exciting fluffy material that feels so gold to work with BUT I learnt my lesson when my plants refused to grow.
Over the years though, I have done some good amount of R&D combined with trial & error in my garden with coco peat. I can now safely say that my relationship with it is – loyal but not committed:-P
7 Ways to use COCO PEAT for Garden Plants & Seeds
SEED STARTING MIX
The most common use of coco peat is for starting seeds. It is a great addition to seed-starting mix as it helps keep it moist, especially in summers. It also helps fluff up the soil allowing roots of seedlings to grow easily. Read more about starting seeds easily.
KEEPING SEEDLINGS HYDRATED
Using coco peat to grow seeds also helps to keep the seedlings adequately hydrated since too much heat may keep drying out germinating seeds & seedlings.
Please keep in mind that it is not advisable to use only coco peat for growing seeds as it does not contain the nutrients required and will keep too damp. This may cause the seedlings to die.
BREAK HARD SOIL – WATER PLANTS PROPERLY
If you want to improve hard or clayey soil, that compacts or cracks easily, you can add about 25% coco peat & 25% compost to make the soil texture better. It allows the roots of plants to breathe and grow deep, resulting in healthy plants. It also helps better absorption of water.
This is a common problem face in pots, when the soil is very hard, water is not absorbed but drains from the sides and the plant slowly dies.
Coco peat is also a great growing medium for indoor plants as it creates a lesser mess & keeps indoor plants hydrated for a long reducing the need to water. It helps grow low maintenance plants and you do not have to worry about watering plants when travelling for a few days.
Indoor potting mix may include 40% coco peat with some amounts of compost, black soil and sand as per the requirement of the plants you are growing indoors.
REDUCE WEIGHT OF SOIL
It is a light weight growing medium and is ideal for pots that cannot take a lot of weight. Normal garden soil becomes heavy when watered hence you may replace some of it with coco peat. Ideal uses would be in pots hung on wall stands and big pots that need to be moved frequently.
HANGING BASKETS – RETAIN MOISTURE
Talking on the same lines, it is excellent for adding to hanging baskets since it helps keep them moist for long and also reduces the weight of basket. This is ideal for maintaining hanging baskets in summers since they dry out quickly.
You may also use a thick layer of coco peat as mulch to neaten the look of pots, control small weeds and keep soil moist. It also reduces some need for watering and also acts as a watering indicator. If you are not sure about when to water plants, wait till the coco peat looks dry i.e. light brown. If it looks dark brown, there is no need to water yet.
How to Expand Coco peat bricks correctly?
Although loose coco peat is also sold, it turns out expensive and is messy to store. It is the best to buy it in compressed forms.
- To use, soak the brick, block or disc in a tub of water.
- Fill more than twice the amount of water and wait for some time.
- The brick will start crumbling and you can break it more with your hands when wet.
- Slowly it will absorb all the water and become soft.
- If some parts are still compact, add some more water over them. It loosens instantly. That’s it!
- It is now ready to use. A large brick takes about 1 hour to completely expand and loosen up.
- If you do not wish to use the entire brick, It may be difficult to cut when compressed.
- Instead just soak it in water from the bottom. Let it loosen up and collect with your hands.
- Leave the rest of it as it is, for future use.
Where to buy Coco Peat in Ludhiana?
I get my stock from HARA SEED SHOP on Ferozepur Road, Opp. PAU. A compressed brick of coco peat (5 kg) costs Rs.200. It expands to about 20-25 Kg, which is extremely cheap. You can also buy ONLINE
Things to take care of while using coco peat for plants.
There are some precautions and facts to be kept in mind before you start adding coco peat to every pot & basket. It is only a helping medium in the garden and not a growing medium by itself.
- It does not contain the nutrients required to grow healthy plants. Coco peat is not a fertilizer.
- Using too much of it can cause excessive water and cause the plants to rot & attract diseases.
- If your plants do not get much sunlight, use little of it.
- If you are using coco peat for indoor plants, make sure that you water with caution and that the soil drains easily after watering. It is usually used for houseplants only to break down hard clayey soil.
- Coco peat works best when combined with good soil, some compost and sand as needed. Always keep your local weather in mind.
And that’s all about using coco peat correctly for plants! I would love to hear about your experience too.
HAPPY GARDENING 🙂
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