Processed coconut fibers are the byproduct of the coconut industry which, without its usefulness to gardeners, would otherwise be disposed of. As a growing medium similar to sphagnum peat, coco peat, also called coir or coir dust, provides an alternative to potting soil featuring high water retention, suitable aeration and antifungal benefits. Coco peat is not only a natural, often organic product, but also a renewable one with a slightly acidic pH that many plants prefer to grow in.
1) Break apart packaged bricks of coco peat into a large bucket with your hands, using as many bricks as needed. Each one-third cubic foot brick of coco peat makes 4 quarts of planting material. Don’t break more than four bricks per five gallon bucket to ensure you have room for mixing.
2) Add 1 gallon of warm water to the broken apart coco peat for each brick you’ve used. Leave the coco peat to absorb the water for two hours, or longer, depending on your brand of coco peat.
3) Mix the material with your hands, a garden trowel or cultivator to fluff the moist coco peat. As you mix, make sure each portion of peat has been moistened. Add more water and fluff again as needed.
4)Fill a planter to within 2 inches from the top with the moistened and fluffed coco peat. Transplant potted seedlings into the coco peat as you would with potting soil according to the depth needed for your plant. Place the planter in the appropriate sun area for your plant.
5) Water the plant and moisten the coco peat two to three times a week in moderate to cool weather, and three to four times a week during hot months when temperatures are frequently above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You can spread prepared coco peat 2 to 3 inches deep as a mulch around plants during summer months to deter weeds, or spread 1 to 2 inches deep during winter to act as an insulator around perennials.
- Mix one part potting soil with two parts coco peat to take advantage of added fertilizers found in some potting soils while maximizing the moisture retention of coco peat.
- Reuse coco peat for up to four years. When finished, used coco peat can be added to your composter or incorporated directly into the soil of garden beds.