Every medium has advantages and disadvantages but in the end we are all looking for a growing medium that will not only support our plants stems and roots but encourage high yielding crops.

One factor that has significant importance in today’s environmental conditions is sustainability.

Research has indicated that peat is greatly under threat as a dying breed of organic gardening material. It takes thousands of years to form, which now classes peat as a non-renewable resource and it’s been prophesised by industry experts that the cost will rise and we may experience a major shortage within the next century or so.

In fact it’s reported that sphagnum bogs only grow by one millimetre a year, this fact only increases the need to change our perspectives and our preferences on the old school, popular choice of a peat medium.

Coco coir on the other hand, is derived from the outer husk of the coconut and as we all know where there’s a tropical climate – there’s generally an abundance of coconuts. Regardless of the requirements of soilless growers, people will still consume coconuts.

Something needs to be done with the discarded coconut fibre, and could there really be a better use than giving it back to the environment by way of an organic growing medium. It’s the ultimate circle of life.

Water retention is an important factor to take into consideration when choosing a hydroponic medium – Many growers find that, although peat has good moisture retention, it performs better when mixed with a product like perlite or topped with an expanded clay pellet to increase the peats water holding capacity. Coco coir naturally has excellent moisture-retention abilities while maintaining air porosity – which is essential in healthy plant growth.

On the other side of the coin you can’t really over water coco coir as you can with a peat based media. Coco will hold the maximum amount of water possible (between seven to nine times its own volume) and the excess drains off. Coconut fibre has great advantages when it comes to minimizing nutrient lock out too.

The way a medium compacts is another issue, if it compacts heavily with use your plant will experience oxygen starvation, which can result in undesirable root rot. Coco coir is a cellulous material so it won’t compact or decompose with extended use.

On the topic of longevity – coco coir will last up to three times longer than peat.

On the up side both are fairly close in terms of pH balance and if the medium is treated correctly in the processing stages won’t give too much trouble.

We should also take a quick look at those dreaded little plant diseases.

Diseases are quite a common issue in a peat based indoor garden – Now I’m not saying you will avoid disease completely if you use a coco coir media in your hydroponic gardening, but it is thought that a quality coco media has better resistance to fungi and pathogens.

Detrimental plant pests love peat moss too, although by mixing peat with a perlite product or even adding a layer of expanded clay pellets you can reduce the risk of pest infestation.

A general consensus emerging from growers who have made the switch from peat moss to coco coir is that coco seems to have better nutrient retention and when the right blend of nutrients are applied, coco tends to utilize the liquid fertilizer better – facilitating rapid plant growth and maximizing yield potential.

Peat moss sourced form sphagnum bogs has been used as a reliable hydroponic and indoor gardening medium for many decades and is still a viable option for an abundant hydroponic crop, although it’s no longer really a sound ecological choice. As time goes on and new research is conducted into the performance and sustainability of media sources we should take these findings into consideration and just maybe, coco coir is peats modern and ecologically superior answer .

One of the things you should look for when buying coco coir is that it should be certified by the RHP – to guarantee quality and be a buffered product to prevent calcium and magnesium lockout. Check out Nutrifield’s range of Coco Media – buffered, premium grade organic coco mediums.

 

Related Tag: Hydroponic Systems