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Soil and Composting: coconut coir

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juliabentley62
Danville, IN
(Zone 5b)

April 10, 2012
4:25 AM

Post #9076618

It seems this is inexpensive enough but would like to know if anyone has used it and what they think of it. I am always cautious when trying something new and am hoping some of the experts...everyone is an expert compared to me...can give me some advice on this type of soil...is it better?

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 10, 2012
9:50 AM

Post #9077042

I've used coconut coir both to start seeds indoors and added to raised beds.

Here's my indoor seed sowing recipe:

1 brick classic coir soaked in 4qts hot water (makes a little over one gallon)
1 gallon worm castings, keep bag closed after each use to prevent drying
2 gallons coarse perlite
1 gallon vermiculite

The following items are optional, but I usually add:

2 tablespoons bone meal with iron
teaspoon trace elements
4 tablespoons dolomite lime
cup soil moist
cup Numus
1 cup crab shell
1 tablespoon phosphate

When using coir outside, just add it to your garden soil, or other amendments.

Here's where I purchase coir:

http://wormsway.com/detail.aspx?t=prod&sku=SCCB300

Be sure you purchase classic coir - the other coir is very lumpy.

juhur7

juhur7
Anderson, IN
(Zone 6a)

April 10, 2012
10:34 AM

Post #9077085

I use that, thank you for the recipe ,was usually using coir, compost, sand for mine.
After a season or so it is a nice soil improvement.
tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

April 10, 2012
5:36 PM

Post #9077596

thats a great mix honeybee!!!
ive used coco coir for several yrs..and my plants have enjoyed it..they tell me that every yr..
LOL
my potting mix is.. equal amouts of coir,my own compost,shredded leaves,and perlite..
i add greensand,dried molasses. and handful of worm castings..
when i plant out in garden..my tropicals get a good addition of coir to the planting hole
when i dig them out in fall..there are a TON of worms in the spots.. they love coir..
i know many vermiculturalist.. use coir as their bedding..
hows the gardening going so far in NC?? have you had a good spring??
sure warm here..still to cold at nite to plant anything except cold hard plants..

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 10, 2012
6:01 PM

Post #9077631

I like the fact that it6 is coarser than peat, and seems to last longer in the ground.

"They say" that some vendors sell coir that has not been rinsed, and it is rather salty for seed-start mix or potting soil. I would expect, even if this is true, that, in outdoor soil, rain would wash away any salinity. For seed mix, you might wnat to hydrate it, then squeeze out excess water and flod it again. Maybe 2-3 times. Just in case it is "salty".

Now, I don't know whether "they" are right or how common "salty" coir is. I guess you could taste it to see!

I read one academic article that pooh-poohed coir BECAUSE they tested it with a batch they knew was salty. DUHH! Maybe that tgest was commissioned by the Council For Promoting Peat, if there is such a thing.

I have bought one batch of coir from Home Depot as nice, long strands, like hair. I liked it!

Another batch from HD was like a big brick of dust. When hydrated, it didn't add any more air to the soil than silt would have.

A third batch had some powder, some coarse chunks, and some dust.

Until I find a company name to trust, I'm sticking with pine bark mulch and screening it myself.
I really liked the one good batch of coir I bought, but "one out of three" is bad odds.
juliabentley62
Danville, IN
(Zone 5b)

April 11, 2012
3:03 AM

Post #9077986


Will it hurt if I mixed it with just my compost and worm castings?
Honeybee, bear with me please...could you tell me what phosphate, crab shell and Numus is for?
I don't have a lot of the items you mentioned and wondered if I should get them and keep them on hand.
Tropical...what his the dried Molasses for?
You guys are such a wealth of info...Thank You!!!!!!

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 11, 2012
5:59 AM

Post #9078102

juliabentley62 - like many recipes, this one has evolved over time, but has stayed pretty consistent for the past five years.

The Crab Shell is particularly intriguing as it contain chitin (pronounced kite-in.) Here's an article that explains its benefits better than I:
http://thebayougardener.com/smf/index.php?topic=2164.0

These links explain what the different ingredients bring to the soil:

Phosphate:
http://wormsway.com/detail.aspx?t=prod&sku=RP410

Crab shell:
http://wormsway.com/detail.aspx?t=prod&sku=NHC413

Numus:
http://wormsway.com/detail.aspx?t=prod&sku=NC400

One warning: Never add to much phosphate at one time - your plants will surely kit the bucket if you do. I accidentally used 3 tablespoons instead of 3 teaspoons in a soil mix many years ago and all the plants died within 24 hrs. A mistake I hope never to repeat!

The coir I use is by "Sunleaves" and I have never had a salt issue when using their "classic coir"

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 11, 2012
6:04 AM

Post #9078108

tropicalnut777 -
Quoting:hows the gardening going so far in NC?? have you had a good spring??


We had a wonderful warm (even hot) March, but April is playing games with the weather! There is a frost advisary for tonight, but by the weekend it's supposed to be in the 80's!

I have tomatoes and squash ready to go outside as soon as the nigt time temperatures settle into the mid to upper 40's. Strange thing is, there are volunteer maters and squash sprouting all over the place in the garden that seem very happy with these cold nights.

juhur7

juhur7
Anderson, IN
(Zone 6a)

April 11, 2012
9:10 AM

Post #9078388

April s been crazy here also and is still at it, everything from 29 to 82 dgrees, more like May. One frost to go for now ,tonght and maybe then.
tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

April 11, 2012
3:39 PM

Post #9078877

i guess its crazy everywhere..lol weve had unbeliebable warm weather
here..this weekend its "suppose" to return to more spring like weather..
i put my order in for rain!!! :)
i use molasses as a soil inoculant.its a good source of sulphur,and ok on potash..
im guessing from the sugar.. many home tonics recommend using pop as additive
with mix..
good to hear youre having a nice spring in NC !!! hope it holds for ya..and doesnt go HOT
to soon..
i get my coir from US orchids out of oxnard,CA..good prices..and no salt issue..
i do agree with rick on the texture..US orchids isnt bad..but i would like bigger/longer
strands.. but its not powder though..so not bad..

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

April 12, 2012
2:51 PM

Post #9079991

It's unclear if your inquiry is relative to container media - I'm assuming it is?

FWIW - coir is most often used in professional applications as a peat extender. It is usually limited to less than 10% of the o/a volume of media because it is often very high in soluble salts, and it has an extremely high K (potassium) content that can be problematic because it can interfere with uptake of other nutrients (antagonisms). Structurally, there is very little difference between coir and sphagnum peat. They have approximately the same water retention curve and they both break down in soils at approximately the same rate.

I think that mixing a number of ingredients into soils that break down quickly or are already extremely fine (particle size) in a quest to build a soil that feeds the plant is fine in the garden but counter-productive for container media. That's what fertilizers are for. I think anything that threatens adequate aeration is counter-productive because it assures the soil has inherent limitations.

Nutrition for containers is very easy. I can teach anyone how to efficiently provide complete nutrition in 5 minutes. If there is a focal point for container media that, if we ensure it, offers greater impact on plant health and grower satisfaction, it has to be aeration/drainage; and the key to providing ample aeration and drainage for the intended life of the planting hinges on two things - the size and structural durability of the particles that make up the soil.

You'll find a much more thorough explanation that will help you understand how important the water:air ratio is in container media at this link: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1073399/

Good growing!

Al



juliabentley62
Danville, IN
(Zone 5b)

April 13, 2012
5:17 AM

Post #9080603

Thanks so much for the info and link!

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

April 13, 2012
3:34 PM

Post #9081346

You're very welcome. Just remember that w/o a healthy root system, a healthy plant is an impossibility. Roots are the heart of your plant, and your soil the foundation that every conventional container planting is built on. If you get the soil right, root health is easy. It's not a steep learning curve. If you gain an understanding of the things that affect the air:water relationship in your media, you're over the hump - I promise it will only get easier from there.

Al

Thumbnail by tapla
Click the image for an enlarged view.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 13, 2012
10:44 PM

Post #9081756

I like to think that "roots are like people" in their hierarchy of needs.

1.
The need for food or fertilizer is nowhere near as urgent as the need for water.
Too little food will slow a plant or a person down over a period of weeks or months and is a bad idea in the long term, but too much is as worse for you than an occasional diet or even a cleansing fast.
For plants, too much fertilizer can even prevent the uptake of water. Think of it as making the water too salty to drink: or like person tying to quench her thirst with seawater. It makes thirst worse.

2.
Plants and people need water! Even a few days without it will put you flat on your back.
In hot, dry windy weather, you need enough fresh water every few HOURS or Bad Things Happen..

3.
But never think that roots (or a person) need water more than air.

Both will die dead, if they can't get the air they need.
Lack of air kills roots and people (dead) faster than lack of water will make them wilt or pass out.
People will suffocate in a few minutes. I don't know whether roots and root hairs die in minutes or hours, but it is much less than "days"

Plants and people can recover from very severe wilting, much easier than they can recover from even a little deadness.

Next time you overwater a plant in a fine, peaty potting mix, think about how happy YOU would be if someone held your head under water for "just a few hours or days", until you dank up the excess water!

Drainage, drainage, drainage. it's not so much about letting the water out, as letting the air in.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 14, 2012
1:36 PM

Post #9082381

Very well said, Rick :-)

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

April 16, 2012
6:59 PM

Post #9085435

Thank you!

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