For Your Garden

Earth Day Special: What is Coco Peat and how it is helpful for plants

On this Earth Day, let us tend to our plants and support the environment. One of the ways of ensuring your precious greens are well looked after is by using the right tools. Coco peat is one such wonder which is a natural growing medium for plants. It is made from coconut husk or coir, which is thoroughly cleaned and dried before use. This nature’s solution provides an alternative to more commonly-used peat moss, which needs to be mined from swamps.

More about coco peat

Coco peat contains the ideal pH levels for optimum plant growth. It can provide aeration and water retention when used for plants. This goodness can be used for large or small commercial horticultural applications as well as for home gardening use.

How to prepare coco peat

You can buy readymade coco peat from a trusted brand or you can make it on your own. Below are the steps for the same:

Using coco peat requires only a few simple steps, such as –

  • Follow the instructions on the packaging about the quantity of coco peat to mix into the water as per your gardening requirements. You can break the bricks into smaller units if you need less potting material. For each brick, you may need approximately 3 to 4 litres of warm water. Allow coco peat to absorb water as instructed on the packaging. On an average, two hours are sufficient for this process.
  • Mix the soaked coco peat well. You can use a plastic or metal trowel for this purpose. Ensure that the material is completely hydrated and ready to use after a few hours.
  • Add coco peat to the planter you intend to use. Stop filling when only 2-3 inches of space is left in the planter. Then transfer seedlings from their existing pots into this new planter. Place the pot in the sun and water the plant as required.

Usage –

  • You can use coco peat for grown plants also. Simply prepare the material as instructed on its packaging and spread it around the soil along with fertilizers and compost. You can reuse coco peat multiple times. Depending on the quality, it can last for many years. After a few years, you can incorporate the used one into your compost mix or the soil.
  • Always buy good quality coco peat so that you get a clean planting medium. It needs to be processed using fresh water. Use of sea water or contaminated water can make the material toxic and harmful for plants. The right processing procedures remove all impurities from the coir and make it ideal to use for plants.
  • Coco peat works best when used with fertilizers. This is because coir doesn’t contain many nutrients. Herbs can grow well without extra fertilizers when coco peat is used as a planting material. But most vegetable plants require additional nutrients. For best results, use organic or homemade fertilizers such as powdered egg shells, compost or tea leaves.

Benefits of Coco Peat

For plants and soil –

Coco peat is helpful for plants in numerous ways.

  • Coco peat has excellent water retention capabilities. When added to soil, it helps soil hold water longer. This reduces the need to water the plants frequently.
  • It helps the soil become more porous. Loose soil allows roots to grow better and makes the plants stronger. Its aeration property allows roots to grow without any obstructions.
  • It is a natural material, so it causes no harm to the soil. It is also a renewable substance and an environment-friendly product. It is a byproduct of coconuts. So, no extra efforts are required to grow or source it. Peat moss requires mining and can take hundreds of years to grow again.
  • Coco peat has ideal pH balance for plant growth (approximately 5.7 to 6.6). With it, you don’t need to use additional calcium carbonate-based fertilizers for the soil. For flowers and garden vegetables, slight alkaline soil is actually beneficial.
  • It allows plants to absorb nutrients better and help plants thrive for longer periods of time.
  • Regular use of coco peat can improve the soil structure and composition. Coir is a natural substance. So, it blends into the soil and provides necessary organic material to it.
  • Coco peat can protect plants from diseases and insects.

For the user –

  • Coco peat absorbs water really well during the preparation process. This makes it an easy-to-use material for plants. The whole process can be completed without too much effort.
  • This wonder has no odour. Therefore, it is an easier to handle planting medium.
  • It is not an expensive material and therefore it is ideal for home use. You can buy coco peat as individual bricks or in bulk. So, whether you have a small backyard garden or just a few plants in your balcony, you can purchase coco peat quite economically.

Earlier, coir was thrown out as a waste material. In landfills, coir can take hundreds of years to break down. Use of coco peat, therefore, is beneficial to the environment in more ways than one. It improves the soil quality and its use as a planting material means it doesn’t end up in landfills.

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