Growing in Coco Peat

Thu, 7 Dec 2017

Simplicity is the chief appeal of this growing system based on coco peat. There is no need for pumps, reservoir tanks, electricity or frequent watering. It's about growing your food plants in containers in your own home garden where soil or potting mix is replaced by a coco peat growing media; or one based on a coco peat combination with perlite to give better air movement.

coco_peat_25l.jpgCoco peat has a high water holding capacity allowing rapid absorption of water and nutrients, both of which are easily available to plants. It also holds onto moisture better than most other mediums including potting mix, for example. Its light weight before hydration and because it is a by product of the coconut industry its a renewable resource.

How to get started

There’s a wide range of suitable container and pots however drainage holes are essential. Common mixtures consist of two-thirds coco peat and one third perlite.

While some growers routinely transplant seedlings straight from punnets, including the potting mix, long term best results come from propagating your own seedlings or cuttings using a sterile medium such as Jiffy pellets or Cultilene rockwool.

Fill the container up using the media you have chosen, then shake or tap the pot so that the media ends up about 1 cm from the of the rim of the pot. Transplant seedlings into the media so that the top of the root ball, Jiffy pot or Cultilene cube is barely covered.

ag_grow_coco_grow_a_b_new.jpgNext commence feeding the plant by applying Ag-Grow Coco Grow nutrient solution, which is made up of a two part solution A and B. This means that the concentrate of the A solution is poured into a bucket or watering can of clean water (ideally rain water) according to the dilution shown on the pack. Next the B solution is poured in and the combination is mixed. A good way to ensure thorough mixing is to half fill the bucket with water then add both A and B solutions and then fill the container with water to the top.

The next step is quite critical. The combined nutrient solution is slowly poured into the coco medium making sure to apply to the whole surface as evenly as possible. If using a watering can it is a good idea to have a rose sprinkler attachment on the spout so as to increase the distribution of the solution. When the solution starts coming out of the drainage holes stop applying. It takes a bit of practice to get the pouring right so you saturate all of the media evenly. Your plant is now set to grow.

Ongoing watering and feeding is next. How do you work out when the medium has dried out and is ready for the next nutrient application? Some growers stick a finger into the medium to feel for moisture. Another guide is the weight of the pot. A heavy pot signifies lots of moisture a light one says its time for a drink. Moisture probes are also available which allow you to get a feel for what’s going on below the surface. When the media starts to dry out then its time to add either the coco nutrient solution or plain water.

After every three applications of nutrient, flush with water until it runs out of the drainage holes.

As the plants get larger their demand for nutrient grows so this may mean lifting the concentration of the nutrient. Here the label instructions are usually the best guide.

Feeding different crops

Ag-Grow Coco Grow can be used right through the life of leafy crops such as lettuce, cabbage, Asian greens, herbs and kale. Flowering and fruiting plants can be fed with the same “grow” formula until the first signs of flower buds are seen. Then change the nutrient source to Ag-Grow Coco Bloom, this will enhance flower and fruit formation and quality.

ag_grow_coco_bloom_a_b_new.jpgWaterlogging is one state to avoid as roots need oxygen to respire and if air can’t get into the root zone then plants can develop root rot or just drown. Coco peat has the ability to absorb nearly 1000% of its weight in water so the trick is to get close to drying out before adding more moisture.

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