Coco Coir is a natural coconut fiber slightly different than using soil mediums. Coco Coir is relatively inexpensive, biodegradable, and renewable. It can be used in home hydroponic systems, is used widely in commercial hydroponic systems, and can be used as an amendment in soil gardens as well. There are many advantages to using Coco Coir; such as improved drainage, improved air circulation, increased water holding ability, and it is very difficult to over water once the root systems is established. That is an advantage for less experienced growers as over watering can be a common problem. One important advantage to using Coco Coir is full control over the plants nutrients. The fluff, or lightness of Coco Coir gives the roots more access to Oxygen meaning faster and healthier root growth. As a soil amendment there are many advantages to adding Coco such as a stronger root system, less fertilizer is needed, and your plants resistance to pathogens and disease increase.
An important aspect of growing in Coco Coir is that more attention to detail is needed in choosing nutrients. The basic nutrients needed to grow in Coco are the same as in other growing methods, though a high quality nutrient is important. Nutrients should be clean; meaning low salt levels and with little or no heavy elements. Salt build up from low grade nutrients can create problems problem in Coco Coir. They can lock out plants ability to uptake as well as break down the Coco Medium itself creating an unhealthy surrounding for roots. The broken down coco can also increase wear and tear on hydroponic equipment by clogging emitters and lines.
X Nutrients are ideal for growing in Coco Coir. Our formulas are made with high grade low salt elements, do not contain heavy metals, are pH buffered, and our basic Grow, Bloom, Micro offer high levels of Calcium and Magnesium. This is a necessity when growing in Coco as the medium can naturally depletes these two elements. A Calcium and Magnesium supplement is often necessary as coco naturally depletes these elements, X Nutrients Cal/Mag is perfect for this.
Coco Coir is also more forgiving in it's ability to be taken back to neutral by removing salts produced by expired nutrients. It allows for a more rapid and more efficient flush making it easy for sick plants to be treated more quickly. Coco Coir allows you to have complete control over the plants diet. Gardening with Coco Coir allows the gardener to control exactly what nutrients the plants receive and how much.
Coco Coir also has better drainage than typical soil mediums. For this reason it is important to dial in a watering schedule that keeps the medium moist. Coco does require more attention to pH and watering is more frequent than with most soil mediums. Strict pH control is vital in Coco Coir., a suggested pH range is 5.5 - 6.5 is recommended for maximum nutrient uptake. It is good to test both what goes into the medium, as well as any drainage. By allowing as little drainage as possible plants will rely more on the grower to properly supply it's needs. It is important to keep a steady supply of water and nutrients in Coco Coir.
It's important to note that many sources of Coco use seawater as a means to flush the Coco thus leaving some salt deposits. Prior to mixing Coco Coir, you want to ensure the Coco is clean. For this reason it is good to flush the Coco Coir 3 times to ensure all the residual salts are removed. An additional suggestion in mixing Coco is to use 30% to 50% perlite.
If you are new to Coco Coir try keeping it simple and do not add amendments as it is important to keep control over what nutrients plants receive. Adding amendments can cause future difficulty in dialing in a nutrient regimen unless you know exactly what are in the amendments and nutrients chosen. Before adding nutrients it is recommended to run water set to a pH of 6.0 through the container until you notice runoff. At that point collect some of the runoff and test the pH of the run off. Continue to flush the Coco until the water coming out of the runoff is inline with the pH of that water you are running through it.