DIY: Coco peat

In recent years, there has been a coco peat revolution, both internationally and in India. A waste material of the coconut industry has been converted into a valuable product in a way that has transformed the horticultural industries. This is a huge development, since the use of coco peat in gardens and farms not only upgrades quality and convenience, but is also an effective way to lessen the amount of waste in our ecosystem.

WHAT IS COCO PEAT?

After coconut husks are discarded by the coconut industry, they are softened and then beaten so that coir fibre can be extracted to be used in the manufacture of ropes, mats, brooms, etc. The residual dust was earlier dumped as a waste, but is now known as coco peat or coir fibre pith, and used as a multi purpose material in the growing of plants. It’s a soil conditioner, a desiccant, and in hydroponics, even a soil-less growing medium.

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WHY YOU SHOULD USE COCO PEAT

  • It’s incredibly light — Coco peat is four times lighter than soil, and is hence perfectly suited to terrace gardens.
  • It’s free of pathogens — Coco peat has no seeds, bacteria, and weeds. Its anti-fungal properties help plants to get rid of soil borne diseases. Moreover, its top later always remains dry, which ensures no chance of fungal growth.
  • It’s sustainably produced — Coco peat is a viable alternative to peat moss, and its use lessens environmental damage caused by peat mining. Its sponge like nature, which can absorb large quantities of water quickly, is superior to the boat-shaped structure of peat moss.
  • It’s reusable — Coco peat is extremely easy to rehydrate after being dehydrated, and can be used for a minimum of two to three times without loss of yield. It is a 100% biodegradable, organic, and renewable resource.
  • It has high water retention capacity — Coco peat can hold up to nine times its own weight in water, and because of its fibrous nature and high degree of porosity, excess water does not cause water logging but instead drains away. This also signifies plants growing in coco peat have to be watered less often.
  • It can retain more oxygen — Coco peat ensures that the plant gets enough oxygen. Being a coarse loose mix, and does not harden over time, it has excellent air filled porosity, meaning plant roots are well supplied with vital oxygen, which increases their growth.

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HOW TO USE COCO PEAT
Coco peat is usually shipped in a compressed form (in blocks) to save transport costs. However, converting it to ready-to-use coir dust is not a difficult task. One simply has to add sufficient water and the block expands into moist fluffy coco peat.

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It is important to note that coco peat has no nutrition in it. Therefore, it cannot be used in isolation. It is usually mixed with compost and other organic fertilizers (such as bone meal or neem khol) to form a potting mix. Some people add soil but that is not needed.

In my garden, all plants are planted in a mixture of cocopeat, vermicompost (a richer compost that is made with the help of earthworms), and neem khol.

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