By Dr. Sheetal Pachpande
Gardening is a hobby for every alternate citizen residing in the concrete jungles of cities. Best gardens happen from a good choice of the media used for growing plants. An ideal growing medium should be inert, should have excellent water retention properties, should allow air circulation in it, should not allow sunlight to pass through and gives proper support for roots to hold and give stability to the plants. Recent advances in garden science suggest that soil is not the only medium that can be used for plantation.
Nowadays, most of the plantation is done in various non-soil media that are available in the market. These media include Coco Peat or coir pith, clay pebbles, Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate (LECA), expanded clay, vermiculite stone pebbles, etc. Every group of medium has its pros and cons. Combination of different media makes the best potting mix. The important benefits of using soilless media are they do not stain and gives very good support to the plants.
Among all the media available in the market, coco peat is a widely used medium. Coco peat gets its name from the coconut tree. Coco Peat is a spongy material that binds the coconut fiber in the coconut husk and is known to have excellent soil conditioning property. Due to its high moisture retention capacity, it is extensively used as a growing medium nursery for the production of seedling growing of orchids and anthuriums.
Coco Peat is available in two forms – brick form and loose form. The compact brick form can be loosened by adding the right amount of water to it. Your potting mix should not be too wet or too dry. Coco Peat should not be used alone. This is because the best quality of Coco Peat is its water holding capacity and over time Coco Peat holds a lot of moisture, which leads to the compressing of the growing mix. This results in the reduction of air pockets as well as the absorption of oxygen by roots leading to slow growth of the plants. For healthy growth of plants, it is a good idea to mix Coco Peat with other growing media like vermiculite, perlite, gravel, coco chips, wood shavings, rice husk, clay pebbles, etc. for better aeration. All kinds of plants such as flowering varieties, vegetables, herbs, leafy greens or root crops can be grown in this media except some succulents.
Use of Coco Peat is the easiest and simplest method to get rid of soil-related infections of the plants and other diseases. It is a well-suited medium for growing indoor plants as it holds water for a longer period of time. Thus, it also helps in the conservation of water. Once you start using it, you will see the wonders it creates in your garden.
About Dr. Sheetal Pachpande: Dr. Sheetal Pachpande is a Botanist, a Horticulturist and the Director of Ecovibes India.