Seems like there is a lot of conversations and questions about this and it spans too many different forums, it would be really nice to have a coconut coir forum so all subject matter about it could be discussed in that one forum.
The reason why I mentioned this is that everything I have is growing in coconut coir or coconut coir mixed in with other mediums and I want to feel as if I can talk about it freely somewhere on Dave's Garden.
It's not the size of your trunk girl. It's the "stuff" in there. You are doing great. I have a 10 and a half by 10 and a half space and I'm as happy as if I had an acre. It's just too much fun...2 EBs, gro bags and DBuckets.
Sounds good to me! Just like the Texas Gardeners have their own thread or forum. Why not ? There certainly is enough interest. My thread alone on the coir questions has been hit about 270 times. So much so that I'm thinking on making a continuation because of it's length. If anyone knows how to do so, please do?
Aw...I reckon as how we could use a coir forum. But one thing worries me. Im using about 50% per-lite and 50% coir. Would I be considered a full fledged member...or just something like an "associate member"? I wouldn't wont anyone giggling and whispering behind my back, "this goofy old doofus puts per-lite in his coir." Kind of like them guys making fun of me for pouring 7UP in my bourbon while they drank theirs straight up. I don't wont to be considered a "sissy" cause I'm not a straight coir kind of guy. Ya'll gotta promise me I wont be discriminated against or I ain't joining. One thing I willl agree to though if its written in the by-lines, I promise never ever to put any cow poo or worm squezzings in the coir. That's plumb sacrilegious.
Hey, Jaywhacker, I've been reading your stuff on coco coir. Tell me more about why you add 50% perlite to your coir? Is this because you feel it needs to be even lighter? I'm just beginning my coir-adventures in containers and have a lot to learn.
"One thing I willl agree to though if its written in the by-lines, I promise never ever to put any cow poo or worm squezzings in the coir. That's plumb sacrilegious."
Ruh Roh! I've mixed and moxed my coir up with all kinds of stuff... and yes! cow poo and worm squeezings, too.. along with garden soil! there! I said it! Garden soil! And potting mix... and and.. other things as well.
I had 40 EZgro stacking containers which came with a grow mix of 80% perlite and 20% vermiculite...a fast draining mix common to hydroponic type gardening. I have added another 50 EZgro pots and I wont a relatively fast draining mix in the new pots because all of the stackers, the old and the new, will be watered from the same automatic watering system. In other words, every stack of pots will get about the same amount of water each day and Im trying to match the gro mixes so that they all have fast draining mixes.
On the other hand, the first stacking planters I ever bought were from the Verti-gro company and they supplied a grow mix of 80% coir and 20% per-lite. Im still using that same grow mix about 4 years (maybe five) later and was so impressed with it that I will be converting everything over to a predominately coir based system. I will add, or not add, per-lite as I see fit. Being able to re-use your grow mix for more than one year and doing it safely is a big money saver and I am convinced that you can do that with Coir. Just dont pollute it with a lot of cow poo, worm squezzing's, etc, and clean and flush it after a growing season. Flushing with a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide is what hydroponic growers do.
I am a flower grower predominately and my way of doing things may not be what is best for vegetable growers and others. I add perlite to the coir to create a faster draining mix that will require more frequent watering. I think thats best for what I wont to do. Central Texas has strong sunshine and winds and I believe a faster draining mix and more often watering will work best for me. It may not be right for what others wont to do. Do I KNOW I am doing this right? No. I'm not to the point where I absolutely know about this stuff. I suspect a lot of things though. I guess you could call me a "suspicious gardener."
O.K...so much for my suspicious behavior. For those of you first trying coir as a grow mix, I would suggest that you stick with what Bob is doing because he is undoubtedly successful with it. And I believe he uses just straight coir. And so do a large percentage of the commercial growers who use hundreds of coir grow bags year after year after year. Stick with what is known to be working at first. As more and more of us on this forum gain knowledge with the coir medium, we can help each other improve our use of it. Everyone's growing situation is not exactly the same and experience my cause some of you to wont to modify the basic coir mix. Who knows...you might wont to mix in a little per-lite next year for a faster draining mix...or not. :-) Sorry I'm not much help but I am still learning...and still suspicious.
OK, I'm going to ask, because I just don't know. How do you know how to "mix and mox" with your coir? I kind of get being a coir purist: using only coir in my containers (for good or for ill)-- but how do you figure out how to incorporate other things with coir into your soil or containers? Is it kind of like using peat moss, but not evil? Also, not naturally acid, so do you need to add amendments?
Such a neophyte.
Pugzley...Pugzley...Pugzley...Gosh, I just don't know what to say. I cant believe you committed adultery and adulterated that virtuous and pure coir with all that nasty stuff. Geezzz! Even battery acid wont flush that stuff out. You done went and salomonellied and polluted your grow mix. Garden soil!!! Some of the nastiest stuff known to mankind. And cow poo too? Did it ever cross your mind that cows know best what to do with cow poo. If you had needed cow poo, the cows would have come over to your place and personally deposited it into your grow bags. I cant go on...I am just speechless.:-)
Yeah, I done and mucked up my coir, but the problem I have here is weather in the 100's a lot of the time, so my coir was for the purpose of holding more water in my mixes. Actually was 96 today in the shade, don't know what it was like out there in the sun. Had to be 104 at least if not hotter. It's still almost 80 degrees at this late hour. If this keeps up my season is over before it got started. And there is no humidity here, either.
I asked Boca Bob when I got the coir if it could be mixed in with other mediums and he said yes.
I still have about 8 pure unadulerated 5 kg blocks of coir, so hopefully I can still qualify for the school of coir purity.
The plants are all happy so far. I hope they stay that way.
Pugzley...You are fun to banter with. Here is what I suspect about soiless grow mixes. You have probably heard it all before but maybe some others have not.
Peat and Coir are both known to hold a certain amount of moisture while still allowing air to get to the roots of plants. They are pretty close to equal in water holding ability (I cant find a chart for comparison right now) but peat will pack down over a period of time with top watering and also break down structurally more so than coir. That causes peat to begin holding maybe too much water plus restricting air flow to the plants roots. Also, peat has a slightly acid PH and for some plants has to be modified with lime to grow some kinds of plants where coir PH is near neutral.
If you mix coir with any other growing medium, it probably shouldn't be something with the same moisture holding capacity and that will restrict air flow. If you add coir to garden soil in the garden dirt, it should improve the garden soil. But if you add garden soil to coir in a container, you are creating a wetter less airoated grow mix.
Vermiculite holds water pretty good so I wouldn't think a coir/vermiculite mix would be too good. Too wet.
Perlite, while holding some moisture, is mostly used to open up the pores of a grow mix and allow the plants to breath. It can be used by itself with frequent watering. Adding it to coir will create a more open grow mix hopefully allowing plants to get the moisture and air they need throughout the season. The more perlite you add, the more often you may have to water, depending on climate and a lot of other factors.
Adding some types of organic fertilizer stuff, cow poo, worm slime, etc, can tend to close off air pores in a container mix. There are some organic ferts available for container growing but I am not familiar with them.
Coir by itself looks like a pretty good growing medium. You may wont to modify it to better fit your growing conditions, climate, type of plants, etc. after you gain experience with it. But to me it definitely has advantages over peat based mixes. And yet, I will not hesitate to use peat based mixes like I always have at times. Whatever fits the situation as I understand it...and also at times...whatever fits the pocketbook. I can always run downtown and grab some peat mix but cant buy coir locally. I used some peat mix in my small 12 inch NJ stackers last year and stuff grew OK but the peat was a solid hard lump by the end of the season.
You notice that I never made an absolute statement in all the above stuff? That is because I am still studying and learning about this stuff, still going by what I "suspect" is right.
I've been worried about what I've been doing, too. Because no one knows for sure what's going to happen and I am anything but scientific and this is only my second year gardening and my first year with the coir.
So, do you think I'm ok? Everything is growing, the tomatoes have blooms, they're getting really tall and bushy with tomatoes on them, we've been eating lettuce for awhile now. My question is, could things suddenly go bad in the grow bags or something? Or would I have noticed it immediately if my mixing and moxing was going to be a problem?
I'm wondering about mixing coir w/ coco chips. I've grown orchids in the chips for a couple of years now, & I like how it doesn't break down & get mucky too quickly. I might experiment & mix it in 1 or 2 smaller containers to see how it fares...
I'm in for a coir forum. The more I can learn the better and it will be easier to find if it's all in one place. Or course, we had snow here this morning so it could be a while before I get to play in mine! Uggggg
Here's a picture of my tomato plants in growbags all strung up on wires and using the vine clips. Looks weirder in person than in this picture. Also I'll include a pic of my determinants in 7 gallon pots. I've got steer manure/compost blend about 15 percent, potting mix about 15 percent and coco coir about 70 percent in these bags, along with granular 9-12-12, epsom salts and a little bit of oyster shell lime. The plants are actually about a foot taller than this. I filled the growbags 1/2 full and planted the plants, then I filled the growbags as they grew taller, pinching off the lower branches as they grew.
They all look great to me, but the one in the container looks larger? Or is it just the way the pic is?
As long as you get cantaloupes, that's great! I love melons so much, I can eat them every day for breakfast and never get tired of them.
I know one thing, I've grown melons in the ground and I've grown them in containers, I only got 1 melon each off the containers but it could have been pollination problems, I'll figure that out this season. The in ground ones made lots of melons. I wasn't using coir in my pots either and I didn't trellis them.
I think thats were you would start.
To me, I wouldnt know where to go. I grow everything in a self contained 'something'. Some I use all coir...some I use half and half...and some are this and that...including coir. A straight coir forum might be pretty limited.
I believe anything to do with coir would be acceptable, not just people growing in straight coir. I am not a purist either. There's a lot to learn about mixing, growth and what works and what doesn't. Coir can be expensive unless you can buy it locally, so if we can learn what can be mixed in with it and what can't it would be good information to have.
I also think that a coir forum should deal with anything having to do with coir usage; not just straight coir OR only in containers. For instance, I'd like to know more about amending garden soil with coir--when it's a good idea, and when not. I do use coir in my fermenting Bokashi buckets.
[quote]I've got steer manure/compost blend about 15 percent, potting mix about 15 percent and coco coir about 70 percent in these bags,[/quote]
Pugzley, have you noticed any differences in growth of your tomatoes with the different growing mixes?
All of my tomatoes are in that mix you quoted, so I have nothing to compare it to except last year when I used straight potting mix, with a little bit of worm castings and a miracle grow knockoff for fertilizer. And I started my plants about 2 months too late last year. I had a dismal harvest, but it was still enough to keep 2 people eating fresh tomatoes for many months in spite of it all. This year I expect a bumper crop from the tomatoes. So many factors are different in that comparison, it's not a fair one.
I've haphazardly mixed in all kinds of stuff without keeping records and have lettuce, radishes, bok choy, chard, collards, squash, cucumbers, chives, bunching onions and a few other things in those containers. Everything I am doing is in containers this year. Last year I grew mostly in ground. It's all growing. :)
I am happy with what the tomatoes are doing, I've got blooms on every single plant (I have 43 plants since I pared them down some).
Oh, I get it: you were describing the proportions of the blend you had in ALL your containers.
LOL about the "pared down" 43-plant tomato section of your garden! . . . although I'm starting not that many fewer different varieties, mostly but not all in Earth Boxes.
What made you decide to move to all-containers this year?
I'm a "recovering Californian" who knows the Lake Elsinore area--we have good friends in Temecula. Lucky you with your growing zone.
My maters are in 5 gal grow bags filled with straight coir. The maters get foliar spray and liquid drench fed every 3 or 4-5 days with weakened solutions of Medina Hasta Gro alternated with MG - Tomato. As of now, they get watered every day, twice on the day it hit 100º a while back. They have been sprayed three times since they were seedlings with 1 tablespoon per gal Epsom salt. They have been sprayed twice with 8.6 % liquid Calcium derived from Calcium Chloride. They are all planted at least 1/2 way down in the grow bags. Some are even planted a litter deeper than half way down.
They are blooming and setting fruit well. At this juncture it looks like there will be tomatoes this year.
edited to add - Notice the use of Jay's horizontal stobs to more or less keep the toms growing up rather than flopping over on their neighbor inside the big cages.
CapeCod, It is sooo hot here today, yesterday and a couple more days coming up, I'm sunburned and so are my poor little maters! It's frying out there. I'm going to have to really watch them to make sure they don't wilt. So I'm wishing for some of that MA weather to blow this direction. It's 98 in the shade right now, the weather reports are never right for my microclimate. It feels like July right now.
haha! yeah, I was very industrious about tomatoes this year. The hood here is glutted with my tomatoes, all the neighbors have them. :) If mine fail, I'll go mooch some from them. LOL! I won't tell you that I had to kill some that were blooming... almost made me cry. Way too crowded for them.
I put everything in containers because I have so many gophers and at the end of my garden last year, they rooted right up my only little row of okra and toppled it. Then right when I was getting ready to plant in ground this year, the little demon got inside my only raised bed and he's having a ball in there. So, I figured rather than trying to deal with him, I'll just work around him, he did get into one of my grow bags and ate one of my De Morges Braun lettuces, now that made me mad. He's not gotten into any other bags though. So I hope he doesn't do that anymore.
What types of tomatoes are you growing this year? I like to grow other things, but the tomatoes are the highlight of the garden for me.
[quote]What types of tomatoes are you growing this year? I like to grow other things, but the tomatoes are the highlight of the garden for me.[/quote]
Oh Pugsley, I so agree with you. Tomatoes are the queens of my summer garden. I'm presently growing 35 different types of tomato seedlings under lights and will put them out in my garden and in my Earth Boxes in coco coir after Memorial Day--the traditional time on Cape Cod. I will also set out some seeds in jugs for Winter sowing in the next few days. I grow mostly heirloom types, many of which seeds I acquired on a tomato seed swap last fall on DG. I've never grown tomatoes in coco coir so this will be an adventure.