In the world of hydroponic farming, grow mats are often used for microgreens such as sprouts, wheatgrass, and salad greens. There are a wide variety of grow mats available, from affordable but inconsistent burlap to biodegradable wood pads to felt pads made from biodegradable materials. But there is a new grow mat that has been becoming more popular: coco coir grow mats.
What Are Coco Coir Grow Mats?
Coco coir grow mats are thin mats of coir designed for the shallow trays that are commonly used for microgreens in hydroponic setups. The mats themselves are fibrous and water-retentive due to the natural properties of coco coir, the woody part of coconut husks.
As a grow mat, coco coir provides an excellent foundation for your plants. It’s resistant to pests, bacteria, fungus, and mold and incredibly easy to work with, especially compared to other common grow mat materials. Its structural integrity ensures that it won’t fall apart before you’re ready to harvest.
Coco coir grow mats work well with many types of watering systems and can produce a 35 percent larger yield than traditional burlap mats. Unlike many kinds of grow mats, coir grow mats are reusable; once they’re dried and the roots from your previous crop of microgreens are removed, your mat can be used to grow an entirely new crop.
How to Use Coco Grow Mats
Coco coir grow mats are relatively straightforward to use. Before using one, you’ll need to soak and rinse your mat to remove unwanted sodium and other trace elements, which may be present from processing. You may also have to add a nutrient mix to the mat to make sure that your plants receive the correct balance of nutrients. However, coco coir is excellent at absorbing nutrients, so it requires less maintenance than other grow mats.
After you’ve prepped your grow mat, you merely need to germinate your chosen seedling. One of the benefits of coco grow mats is that their fibrous makeup is consistent, which will help your plants grow evenly. Other growth media, such as unmodified soil, are less likely to be consistent and can lead to uneven plant growth and development, making harvesting more complicated.
The Advantages of Coco Grow Mats
In addition to their reusability and relative ease of use, coco coir grow mats are highly sustainable and renewable. Their excellent water retention properties mean that you won’t have to water your plants as often, reducing your maintenance time and expense. In addition, coir has a high cation exchange capacity, which means that it efficiently absorbs and releases nutrients. Unlike other forms of inert growth media, most coir mats will have some nutrient benefit right out of the box.
If you’re a beginner to hydroponic or microgreen gardening, consider using a coco coir mat. Make sure that you work with a reputable vendor because there are some poor-quality mats on the market. However, if you get a high-quality coco grow mat, you’ll be surprised at how well your plants grow!