The choice of growing medium greatly affects the overall method of cultivation. If you are thinking of a versatile medium that is suitable for multiple cultivation practices and can also be easily disposed of in nature, then you should seriously consider growing in coconut.
Growing in coconut
Let's talk about what the coconut growing medium provides us with.
When we go to the store to buy coconut for growing plants, we get a bag with a volume of 25 or 50 liters, in which there are crushed fibers from coconut packaging. In addition to crushing, the fibers are often washed and sterilized to kill any potentially harmful bacteria. The pH is also adjusted. The result is pure coconut pulp, which contains no nutrients and is suitable for growing a wide range of plants. Trichoderma is often added to the coconut growing medium, a useful mold that stays on the roots of plants and protects them from other parasites. This type of fungus is called mycorrhizal, and mycorrhiza defines a friendly relationship between a plant and a fungus. Trichoderma not only protects the plant from harmful fungi, but supports the formation of plant roots and improves their ability to process nutrients in the soil. When a plant has a rich root system and can consume all available nutrients, we know it on the strong structure of its above-ground part, rapid growth and the formation of larger flowers and fruits.
We can also buy pressed coconut, which is a very interesting and advantageous variant. You can take a package with a volume of about 10 liters from the store. Unpack it at home, place it in a container with a volume of 80-100 liters and pour water according to the instructions. A 10 liter cube becomes 70 liters of coconut in a short time. Carrying and transporting pressed coconut is simply very simple, compared to bulky bags. Speaking of coconut pressed into cubes, I must not forget the coconut mats, which are used as an alternative to rockwool mats. Coconut mats are also pressed, but after pouring they hold their volume, they only gain a little, but within their packaging. This is because coconut mats are not pressed with the same force as coconut pressed to reduce volume, and in addition they consist of several layers of different crumb roughness. This is to hold moisture well while providing an ideal environment for root growth. The size of the coconut mats is identical to the size of the rockwool mats, so we can boldly use them for growing in one meter long hydroponic pots.
Why choose coconut as a growing medium?
From the previous paragraphs, several small advantages of growing in coconut could be read. Above all, coconut is a very universal medium that is degradable in nature. So if you want to throw away the coconut after harvest, you can throw it on compost or store it somewhere in nature, where it will soon merge with normal soil. One of the most important advantages of growing in coconut is that we can choose several methods of irrigation. On the one hand, coconut absorbs water well, which makes it a medium suitable for manual irrigation, but it does not retain it as much as soil, so it can be used as a medium for hydroponic cultivation. In fact, coconut mainly meets the criteria of a hydroponic growing medium, which is without discussion, because it is completely inert. This medium can be recommended without hesitation for growing in pots using both manual and automatic irrigation, while for automatic irrigation it is suitable to mix coconut with perlite. The combination of coconut with perlite in a ratio of 1: 1 is perfect for passive irrigation systems and large-volume flower pots. You can use coconut mats for automatic irrigation in elongated hydroponic pots. When grown outdoors, it is better to use coconut as part of the substrate, which should lighten and aerate it. Plants grown in coconut need to be watered more often because it is light and easily permeable. Thanks to these properties, however, it supplies enough oxygen to plant roots.
The advantage of coconut is, among other things, the possibility of its reuse. After harvesting, the medium is enough to remove larger residues of plant roots and rinse it thoroughly with enzyme water. It is never possible to clean 100 % of used coconut for reuse, but the amount you throw away with roots and other residues is not significant. With careful rinsing and cleaning, you can use the coconut three times in a row. If we want to use the coconut substrate repeatedly, it is good to keep it moist even after we harvest the plants. If we let the coconut dry completely, it would reduce its volume and it would be more difficult to wash it thoroughly and prepare it for the next growing round.
When growing in coconut, it is advisable to avoid transplanting. We can pre-grow the seeds in Jiffy's peat rollers, and plant them in the coconut growing system when the roots look out of them. The peat combines well with the coconut substrate. If we do not grow in coconut mats, it is always advisable to mix coconut with a little pearlite, which will provide even more space and oxygen to the roots. But we can grow without perlite. After planting the seedlings in the system, it is better to start with manual irrigation first, especially if we are starting to grow in coconut.
We must first master growing in coconut and find out how quickly our growing vessels dry out. This also applies to growing in mats. Small seedlings and clones are very susceptible to too much water. Manual irrigation guarantees that they will only have as much moisture as they are able to consume. We can fertilize plants with hydroponic fertilizers, which are usually more concentrated than soil fertilizers. When using fertilizers for the soil, it is assumed that there are already some nutrients in the soil. Coconut is completely nutrient-free, so fertilizing the soil with fertilizer might not provide the plants with the required amount of nutrients. Just after planting the seedlings, it is still good to use only half a dose of fertilizer before the plants catch, which is known by the fact that they begin to form new leaves and grow slowly. As soon as we notice the growth of plants, we can start fertilizing according to the recommended dosage, and also start an automatic irrigation system, if we have it available.
As for watering, the plants in the coconut growing medium can withstand frequent and intensive watering. However, it is necessary to work on it and give the plants enough time to create a rich root system. So usually we start to increase watering after two weeks of growth and we should reach the maximum in the second week of flowering. We water intensively until the last 14 days before harvest, but of course we have to monitor the reactions of the plants. When properly watered, they should grow quickly and form strong green leaves. As soon as the leaves started to turn yellow, it would be a sign of an excessive amount of water in the system. Overflowing plants also significantly slow down growth, sometimes they stop completely and have withered leaves. Therefore, we always increase the watering gradually and watch how the plants react to the increase. In the last two weeks before the harvest, we start to reduce the watering, until we stop it completely for the last 2-3 days. The plants send the last remnants of power and into the fruit. When growing in coconut, of course, we must not forget to regularly flush the system. Once every 7-10 days we water the plants only with water or water with enzymes for 1-2 days.
intense watering. However, it is necessary to work on it and give the plants enough time to create a rich root system. So usually we start to increase watering after two weeks of growth and we should reach the maximum in the second week of flowering. We water intensively until the last 14 days before harvest, but of course we have to monitor the reactions of the plants. When properly watered, they should grow quickly and form strong green leaves. As soon as the leaves started to turn yellow, it would be a sign of an excessive amount of water in the system. Overflowing plants also significantly slow down growth, sometimes they stop completely and have withered leaves. Therefore, we always increase the watering gradually and watch how the plants react to the increase. In the last two weeks before the harvest, we start to reduce the watering, until we stop it completely for the last 2-3 days. The plants send the last remnants of power and into the fruit. When growing in coconut, of course, we must not forget to regularly flush the system. Once every 7-10 days we water the plants only with water or water with enzymes for 1-2 days.
When it comes to coconut fertilization, it is advisable to choose either a universal fertilizer for hydroponic systems or a fertilizer specially developed for coconut substrates - this would be used mainly in the case of passive irrigation systems and systems without nutrient solution circulation. After planting the seedlings, we would choose EC 0.8 to increase it to 1.4 after recording plant growth. In the peak phase of flowering, we can increase the EC up to 2.2 mS / cm. In the last 7-10 days, it is advisable to completely plant the fertilizer so that the plants can consume the nutrients still present in the coconut. Thorough cleaning of the coconut substrate system takes a little longer than the expanded clay system and about the same time as rockwool systems. It is also advisable to adjust the acidity of the nutrient solution. The pH of 6.3-6.5 proved to be effective in growth, in the flowering phase we reduce it to 5.7.
Mixing and drainage
As already mentioned, when choosing a coconut growing medium, we can either grow it in pure coconut or mix it with something. Perlite is suitable as an ideal complement to coconut, but expanded clay can also be used. Even if we decide to grow only in coconut, we should not forget the drainage layer at the bottom of the pot. Especially in larger pots, the coconut thickens at the bottom and forms a layer from which water drains less easily. If we cover the bottom of the pot with 3-5 centimeters of expanded clay, we will improve the outflow of the nutrient solution from the pot and give more oxygen and space to the roots. Be careful, however, if we use passive irrigation systems, a drainage layer is not desirable, on the contrary. If we put the drainage layer in Auto Pot, for example, we would disrupt its functionality, because there would be a lack of coconut in the places where it should absorb the nutrient solution. The coconut substrate can be mixed with any growing medium. It just doesn't make sense to mix it with rockwool, because their properties are very similar, and moreover, we would not be able to dispose of the coconut in nature or use it repeatedly. Rockwool is simply not suitable for combination with coconut. An exception are planting rockwool cubes, which will not interfere in the coconut and we can easily throw them out separately after harvest.
Coconut is a universal growing medium suitable for separate use and mixing with other growing media. In terms of irrigation, coconut is better suited for hydroponic cultivation, but it can be successfully used for manual irrigation in passive systems, or as a supplement in growing in soil. The coconut medium can withstand even more abundant watering, however, it is necessary for the plants to have a richly developed root system. Ecological disposal of coconut after harvest is very easy. Coconut growing should be handled by everyone, including the novice grower, but they must be careful not to water excessively, because coconut is easy to spill over, especially in the early stages of plant development. Coconut is an ideal intermediate step for those who decide to switch from hydroponic cultivation to soil cultivation, because coconut behaves like soil in many respects.
I wish you every success, no matter what you decide to grow.
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