Hi everyone, I'm a new gardener whose been lurking this great forum for a while but this is my first post.
I've got a question for Fu Manchu (or any one else who has experience with coir based potting mixes).
Fu, I've read through some of your threads before and you seem to advocate using a home-made potting mix with 50% coir fibre, 50% organic potting mix/compost. Do you wash or treat the coir at all (other than adding water to expand it from block form) before you add it to your mix?
I'm interested because I've recently decided to start a potted mini-orchard and want to make up a potting mix suitable for our rather severe Perth climate. I've got the following trees: Lemon, Lime, Orange, Peach, Apricot, Almond, Blueberries, two Apple (Sundowner and Granny Smith) and Cherry (even though they're low chill I know they're dubious but even so I couldn't resist as they're my favourite fruit).
The reason why I'm asking about coir fibre is because I stumbled on a post over at the GardenWeb forums saying that it's often high in salt and needs to be rinsed. Have you ever had this problem?
I then came across another thread over there about it where Al Tapla posted on an experiment he did with Coconut Husk Chips. He made his usual mix of 5:1:1 soil of pine bark:peat:perlite and another 5:1:1 mix of CHCs:peat:perlite. He then planted 6 Snapdragon and 6 Coleus cuttings in the two soils. The result was that by the end of the summer the Pine Bark mix had around twice the biomass of the CHC mix. Now I know that CHCs aren't exactly the same as Coir fibre but its the only such experiment I've seen. (Full post is here)
I was planning on using Fu Manchu's coir fiber/compost mix but the previous results have made me a little apprehensive, so I just want ask if anyone has had experience with either Al's 511 or Fu's Coir mix? If anyone has used both I'd love to know how they compared (as coir fibre is much finer than the chunks Al used). And if you do read this Fu, what lead you to using coir fibre rather than peat or pine bark? What are the chief benefits?
No one has experience with adding coir (aka coco peat, coconut fibre) to their potting mixes?
Well as an update, I had already bought some coir so I made up some mix according to Fu's recipe. Potted up my dwarf almond and apricot trees which were struggling for life in the small pots they came in. My first impression of the mix is that it really seems to retain a lot of water (my $10 moisture meter gives readings of 9-10 out of 10 this morning after watering yesterday afternoon which puts it firmly in the 'wet' range. Not sure if that's too wet as ideally I'd like it to be giving a reading of about 6-7. I'll keep an eye on it too see if this is too wet but may be good for summer especially since my pots are terracotta (albeit sealed with silicone spray).
I didn't specially wash the coir because I figured I'll just flush the plants with lots of water for the first week or so.
I repotted a meyer lemon about a month ago with only Coir, pure compost and a bit of zeolite(that stuff is amazing). It's doing really well, lots of new shoots and flowers. It was in the ground for about 6 months and was really struggling so I pruned it hard and repotted it. I've only water it twice so far and the rain covered the rest. I'd also repotted 6 gardenias with the same recipe at the same time and they have really piled on fat.
I'd also looked at AI's recipe but I like Dr evil's better( a lot less work )
As for the wet issue, I do notice it's quite damp under the soil surface but my tree is doing ok and requires less watering so can't complain. Oh I didn't wash the Coir Peat either.
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Thanks Emery, your lemon tree looks to be doing well in the mix which is very encouraging. I'll continue to use the coir mix for now but I might do a little experimenting in the future with Al's 511 and/or Gritty mix to see whether or not I can replicate his results.
Just in case anyone is interested, I just stumbled upon this episode of Great gardens TV, where they show you how to make coir based potting mix. They also add a few extras as fertilizer. I'm still monitoring my fruit trees that I potted up in this mix but so far they seem to be doing well, especially my dwarf almond and apricot trees that have put on lots of new growth in the three weeks they've been in the mix.
The rest of the episodes can be found here and are well worth checking out, especially if your gardening in Perth.
I just started making my own potting mix using coco coir, compost, perlite, vermiculite with the ratio of 4:2:1:1, and I didn't wash the coir. Coir is preferred over peat moss because it's made out of leftover coconut husk which is more environment friendly.
I'm thinking of adding zeolite too when making the next batch as I hear it does wonder to plants.