In the gardening world, it’s important to provide plants with high-quality garden soil. Sustainability and effectiveness are key measures for soil conditioning, and gardeners are always looking for new ways to improve their soil. Traditionally, peat moss has been added to soil to improve nutrients and growing ability. Coco pith, or coir pith, is a newcomer to the market, and is generally considered a more sustainable option.
Peat is an accumulation of decaying plant matter found in peat-lands, bogs, and mires. These bogs may have been forming for hundreds or even thousands of years. It is a soil-like substance that has traditionally been harvested for fuel and as composting material. Once this resource is harvested, it is not easily replenished.
Coco pith, or coir pith, is composed of the dust and short fibers of the coconut husk. It is often the byproduct of coconut production. Coconuts consist of the kernel, which is used in food, and the outer husk, which is separated into long fibers and coco pith. After collection, coco pith is washed, dried, compressed into bricks, packaged, and shipped.
Both peat moss and coco pith have enthusiastic proponents. To understand which is best for your garden, it is important to examine each according to their effectiveness and sustainability. What they have in common is that they both add nutrients to garden soil while breaking up heavy clay and improving water retention. They are also both natural, plant-based, and encourage helpful microbial populations.
Because peat comes from peat-lands that develop over hundreds of years, it is generally considered an unsustainable resource. Peat-lands are natural habitats that support significant biodiversity and many at-risk species. They also store a third of the earth’s soil carbon. To harvest peat, companies interrupt the natural ecosystem by digging ditches, milling the top layer of peat, separating and processing layers of the bog. Some people even refer to this process as collecting fossil fuels because of the time involved in the creation of peat itself.
Coir pith, on the other hand, is the readily available byproduct of coconut production, meaning it is far more sustainable. Peat moss also tends to become water-logged and has higher acidity than coir pith. The pH of coir is typically quite close to neutral, which is ideal for plant nutrient intake.
For the most part, coco pith functions like peat moss, with a few added benefits, and increased sustainability. It is pest and mold resistant, has good root-supporting structure, and has long been popular with hydroponic growers for its water retention properties. It can also be recycled in composts and vegetable gardens.
When compared according to efficiency and sustainability, coco pith, or coir pith, is a better option for your garden. It is an excellent soil conditioner, with pest-repellent, water-retaining, and nutrient-dense qualities. It can even be used as a soil-less medium for growing anthuriums and orchids. It is similar if not superior to peat in a number of ways, especially in its sustainability.