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Using Coconut Coir As A Seed Starter – Here’s How!

You may have heard of coir before or coconut fiber. Made from the outer husk of a coconut, this material is used for many different things. From doormats to brushes to even mattresses, sponges, and tile, coconut coir is a hardy, strong material with many advantages. One of the uses of coir is using it as a seed starter. 

Coconut coir is commonly sold in small blocks or pellets used as seed starters, or you can buy coconut coir soil. It is a great seed starter because it helps keep the moisture and air levels perfect for germinating seeds. 

The article below will discuss coconut coir and why it’s such a good seed started, how to start seeds in coconut coir, and more! Stick around!

What Is Coconut Coir?

I mentioned above that coconut coir is from the outer husk of a coconut. Specifically, it is made from the discarded parts of the coconut to help reduce waste, and it is a great medium. Through a soaking and drying process, the coconut fibers are extracted from the husk and rolled into bales which are then sterilized and sent off for one of their many uses. 

Why Is Coconut Coir a Good Seed Starter?

There are many benefits to starting seeds in coconut coir. Let’s take a closer look.

Moisture Levels

Coconut coir breaks down very slowly. While it breaks down, it leaves behind little air pockets. These air pockets help the coir drain excess moisture and help the roots of a growing plant breathe. The great part about coir is that while it drains this moisture, it also holds in the perfect amount, so the soil doesn’t dry out completely. 

Biodegradable 

One of the best parts about coconut coir and one of the main reasons people use it for germinating their seeds is because coconut coir is extremely biodegradable. Once your seed sprouts, you don’t have to transplant your seedling.

You can instead stick the whole coconut coir into the ground or pot. Coconut coir breaks down slowly over time, so there is hardly any waste surrounding coconut coir; plus, it has antifungal properties!

Disadvantages to Coconut Coir Seed Starters

While coconut coir is a wonderful thing to use in your garden to start your seeds, there are a few disadvantages to using it too. 

Cost

The biggest problem is the cost. Coconut coir is far more expensive than other soils or seed trays. It’s expensive because of the process used to make coconut coir, and it is becoming more popular by the year. 

Nutritional Value

Another problem gardeners face using coconut coir is that coconut coir has little nutritional value. All of a coconut’s nutrients belong in the coconut’s meat, the part we consume.

The husk is simply a husk. So while it does have antifungal uses, there are no essential nutrients in the coconut coir soil. So when using coconut coir soil or the pellets, you will need to feed your plants extra nutrients or mix a quality fertilizer with good nutrients so your plants aren’t lacking anything. 

Salt Levels

One of the other big problems in coconut coir is the salt levels. Coir has extremely high salt levels, and part of the soaking process when using coconut coir is to help get rid of some of that salt. Especially in low-grade coir, you will find higher salt levels. Salt can be bad for germinating seeds because it can slow the water uptake. 

How To Start Seeds Using Coconut Coir

As I mentioned, coconut coir has a few different shapes. You can either get the pellets or discs of coconut coir, or you can use coconut coir soil. Here is how to start seeds using the different versions of coconut coir. 

Coconut Coir Soil

Growing seeds in coconut coir soil are essentially the same as using any other soil. The only difference is that it is highly recommended to mix a good fertilizer with the coconut coir soil because of its lack of nutrients. Find a fertilizer for seed starter potting soil with an NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium levels) of 5-5-3 or 3-2-1, or something similar. 

Coconut Coir Pellets or Discs

A common way of using coconut coir to start seeds is using coconut coir discs or pellets. They are soft, squishy, brown circles or squares, sold at any garden store or online. Here is how to plant with them. 

Step One

Remove the coconut coir from the package; they will be very thin discs or rectangle shapes. 

Step Two

The coir must be soaked before you plant seeds in them. You will want to get a tray that is about 2 inches deep. Place the dry coconut coir into the tray and fill it with warm water; you can use cool water; however, the warm water will help them expand faster. There will be a small hole in the coconut coir; make sure it is facing up. After you cover them with water, they will begin to expand.

Step Three

It takes about 1 hour for the coconut coir to fully expand. They can get to up to seven times their original size. Once the hour has passed, and the coconut coir has fully expanded, you can plant your seeds. 

Step Four

Plant no more than two seeds per coconut coir. For larger seeds, only plant one in one coconut coir. Drop the seeds into the small hole and cover the hole by carefully pinching the coconut coir shut. 

Step Five

Place the coconut coir on a plastic tray, preferably with a see-through plastic lid (to create a greenhouse effect). You can also use something simple like an aluminum tray or a plate. You want to make sure the environment is perfect for germinating seeds. You can add small amounts of water to the bottom of the tray each day.

The coconut coir will soak up the water, keeping them moist. You can also spray or give your coconut coir small amounts of water each day. The biggest thing is that you are making sure they remain moist. 

Step Six

Once your seeds have germinated and started growing more than three sets of leaves, they are ready to be put outside or in their final place. Plant the entire coconut coir in your garden or a pot. Cover with soil and continue gardening as normal.

What Seeds Work Best in Coconut Coirs?

While all seeds can be started in coconut coir, some will thrive much better than others.

  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Onions
  • Greens
  • Broccoli 
  • Carrots

All of these vegetables like a higher pH soil than others. Coconut coir has a wide pH range of 5.2-6.8, so it covers the scale in a higher pH range. You won’t have to change the pH to be higher for these vegetables if you use coconut coir. 

Coconut Coir Replacement For Peat Moss

Peat moss and coconut coir are highly similar. They both do the same thing with holding moisture levels and their breakdown. Coconut coir has been the perfect replacement for those who want to use peat moss, as peat moss has become extremely difficult to find in the past few years.

Peat moss is being harvested faster than it can ever be grown. The demands are just too high, and peat moss has been sold out in many places for a long time.

While it’s expensive, Coconut coir is being produced much faster. There is an overabundance of coconut coir since many places have excess coconuts. Peat moss is found in bogs and wetlands and only in Russia and Canada. 

Final Thoughts

Coconut coir is a wonderful medium that can be used for many different things. Seed germination is a big use of coconut coir, and the process is simple and biodegradable. While coconut coir may be expensive and have some salt and nutrient issues, these are issues that can be mended. Try using coconut coir the next you germinate seeds! Happy gardening!