Farming is traditionally associated with soil as the growing medium. Today, we have a relatively new entrant to consider; the coco peat.

Coco peat is a growing medium manufactured from coconut husk. It has countless benefits and is increasingly being used for both outdoor and indoor gardening. It introduces the possibility of successful farming without soil and brings in low-cost advantages.

So, which is better? Coco peat or soil?

Does it really matter?

Yes, it does!!! The choice of growing medium can affect your yields in a big way.

Gardeners still carry the traditional mindset of using soil, fertilizers, and pesticides to grow healthy plants. Coco peat offers an altogether different alternative to gardening. Compared to soil, you can grow healthier plants using coco-peat. If this piece of information surprises you, then you should read further to understand how coco peat outscores soil.

Before you start gardening let’s get the basics right by making an informed choice on the best growing medium.

Coco peat demystified

Have you noticed the powdery material within the coconut husk? This powder is coco peat, the popular growing medium. The husk of coconut contains 75 % of fiber and 25 % of this fine dust.  When coconut husk is processed to extract fiber, coco peat is formed as the byproduct.

Earlier the utility of peat was unrecognized and it was burnt and disposed of as a waste product. By the late 1980s, coco peat started receiving its due recognition as an ideal growing medium. Now, coco peat is in the spotlight for its high porosity and water holding capacity and is highly valued in agriculture. It is a popular alternative to the soil for growing indoor and outdoor plants. Farmers use it as a soil conditioner as well.

Coco peat comes as compressed blocks. You have to soak these blocks in water to expand them. The soaked blocks can then be broken apart easily and used for your gardening requirements.

Read on to get to know coco peat better and understand why it is a better choice over the soil for growing plants.

Benefits of using coco peat for farming

Here are the countless benefits you reap by using coco peat for your garden.

  • Eco-friendly – Coco peat is a natural by-product of coir production. Compared to other compost options, it is eco-friendly and re-usable. The coco peat that you have used once can be cleaned and reused in the other pots too. It can even be reused for 4 years. This makes coco peat an affordable option as well. It is biodegradable and degrades slower than peat moss
  • Highly absorbent and retains water – Coco peat holds more water than most other growing mediums. It also has excellent water retention capacity and thus ensures that water is released slowly and made available to the plants the whole day. Coco peat can hold water up to 7 to 10 times its weight. At the same time, it doesn’t cause water logging and gets rid of the excess water.
  • Alkaline nature – The pH value of coco peat is 5.8 to 6.8. This pH value is ideal for growing plants and does not require any further neutralizing substances. The alkaline nature of coco peat makes it a great choice to grow healthy plants.
  • Healthy for the plants – Coco peat has natural anti-fungal properties and is resistant to mold. This can protect the plants from disease and promotes growth with minimal use of pesticides. Coco peat also has excellent oxygenation properties for healthy root development. It can store the nutrients and release them for extended periods.

How coco peat scores over the soil?

A significant difference between coco peat and soil lies in the nutrient content. Soil is rich in nutrients while coco peat is unfertilized and you need to add nutrients to make it fertile. However, plants grow healthier in coco peat compared to soil. Let’s see why gardeners are increasingly replacing coco peat with soil.

  • Light and promotes strong roots – Being light coco peat doesn’t resist the roots from growing deep. Eventually, the roots longer and healthier. This could be one of the main reasons why plants grown in coco peat give big yields.
  • Ensures a good supply of water and nutrients – Coco peat is excellent at absorbing and retaining water. It is fluffy and has a loose nature. Hence, when compared to soil it can make water available to the roots for a longer duration. The result is roots that grow faster and are stronger. Coco peat also retains the nutrients longer than soil and delivers them directly to the roots, thus enhancing the availability.
  • No soil-borne diseases – When you grow plants in coco peat you can avoid the possibilities of soil-borne diseases.  This reduces the need to use pesticides for your plants. Besides coco peat has excellent anti-fungal properties and prevents pests or diseases from reaching the roots and the plants.
  •  Acts as a soil conditioner– Coco peat can be used to promote plant growth in the soil as well. It is a great soil conditioner that can enhance the physical properties of soil. When used in tandem with the soil you are assured of huge harvests.

Coco peat is your choice for saving time and money and to move towards environmentally-friendly gardening. Reusability is one of the unique advantages of coco peat. Apart from this coco peat can also provide your plants with a stronger dose of nutrients and water. This eco-friendly growing is finding a growing user base for the proven results it has delivered.

Agreed that soil is the gift of mother earth and might be irreplaceable for the fertility and rare nutrients it offers. However, coco peat can easily replicate these benefits through added manure and assures enhanced nutritional availability. You might wish to try coco peat as an isolated growing medium or use it as a soil conditioner for added advantages. When used as a soil conditioner, you get the best of coco peat and soil and hopefully reduces the labor and cost.