Coconut coir, commonly known as coir, is one of the best growing mediums on the market. Coir is the fibrous byproduct extracted from the husk of the coconut. It has many applications in the home and in the garden. Here we will focus on the top five ways to grow your own coir garden.
1. Know Your Coir
Coir is made up of three texturally different components: Coco pith, coco fiber, and coco chips. Coco pith is a spongelike material that retains large quantities of water but has little ability to hold air. Coco fiber keeps very little water but has a high capacity to hold air. It also breaks down quickly. Coco chips serve as the combining agent that allows the properties of coco pith and coco fiber to work together. The chips hold air while the coir holds water, resulting in the highest air-to-water ratio of the three components.
2. Know the Manufacturing Process
When choosing where to purchase your coir, ask questions about how the coir was harvested and prepared for use. The manufacturing process is critical to the quality of the coir. To collect coir, the manufacturer must first soak the coconut husks in either fresh or tidal water. They then remove the shells and dry them for a year or more. After the drying process, the coir is then further refined into pith, fiber, and chips.
3. Prepare the Coir for Use
Compressed bricks or blocks are the most common forms of coir sold to consumers. In most cases, the manufacturer will include exact instructions on how to prepare the coir to be used. When in a brick form, you will need to soak the material in water to reconstitute the coir. Container size and the amount of water required will vary based on the size of the block. The coir will be ready to use when it has crumbled completely and absorbed all the water.
4. Check Moisture Levels
Moisture levels depend on the size of your bed, garden, the number of plants, and more. Fortunately, it’s easy to check the coir’s moisture level. Take about a fistful of the coir from the area you are testing and squeeze it. If water is visible between your fingers but does not spill out, you have the correct moisture level. If water runs out in excess, this is a sign of oversaturation. If there is no visible water, it is too dry, and you need to add water.
5. Recycle Coir
Due to coir’s ability to resist decay, you can take used coir and place it in outdoor beds or compost bins. No matter the quality of the soil you recycle it into, its properties are still useful in retaining water and helping break up dense soil. As mulch, it acts as a natural weed barrier and aids in the bed’s water retention.
If you decide to grow your own coir garden, share the results with others to spread the word about coir as a growing medium.