Coir is a fiber extracted from the husk of the coconut – specifically from the section between the inner shell and the outer coat of this plant. Although it is used for many different things throughout the world – including rope making, brushes and floor mats – one of its main uses is in gardening.
Using coir for the garden used to be confined to the areas of the Indian subcontinent that first started to use this fiber, but it is now commonly found throughout the world. This is due to the fact that it has a huge number of different uses, as well as being incredibly environmentally friendly.
Uses of Coconut Coir
Probably the most common horticultural use for coir fiber is when it is mixed with compost. This is because it perfectly complements the nitrogen rich compost by being hugely high in carbon – something that is essential when trying to get plants to grow to their full potential.
Due to the fact that coir can be packed in a compact way, it also means it is hugely convenient to store in a shed or garage for the next time it is needed.
It is also a great substitute for peat moss – something that is manufactured by destroying various natural bogs around the world. This means that not only is it useful for the garden, but it also helps to protect the environment as well.
In addition, coir has a far more neutral pH level than peat, which means it is a far more effective substance to place on the garden.
Another environmental feature is the fact that it is great for keeping insects away from a plant, meaning that chemicals don’t need to be used in the garden.
Additionally, coir can also deter various fungi, due to the fact that some coir contains Aspergillus terreus, which is a type of fungus that acts as a biological control against these other harmful fungi. This is mainly found in coir produced in Mexico.
Benefits of Using Coir
The physiological makeup of coir also makes it great for using to grow plants in, as it contains a number of different essential items that a plant will need. The main substances that it contains are phosphorus and potassium – both of which are essential when growing healthy plants.
It also has a high cation exchange capacity. This essentially means that it is excellent at storing both moisture and nutrients. These are released over a long period of time, therefore ensuring that the plants are given suitable amounts of these essential items.
The final hugely beneficial aspect to using coir to grow plants in is that it can break up even the toughest of soils. This can be achieved by mixing the coir with the soil, therefore stopping the soil from reforming into impenetrable clumps. In fact, it is so good at this that it can even be used to break up soil that is high in clay!
One word of warning when using coir is that when untreated it can have a large amount of salt in it, which will obviously prevent it from being as useful as it could be.
There are many coir products on the market that are pretreated but should an owner find themselves with untreated coir, there is a simple way to remedy this.
The simplest method is to soak the coir in water and let it absorb all the water that it can. After this more water should be added. As the coir will have no room left for this water, it will expel the excess chloride and sodium from the solution. After draining the coir will now be ready to use.
As can be seen, coir is hugely useful for any gardener, because of the massive amount of beneficial properties that it has. It can easily be bought in both brick and mortar gardening stores and online.