For generations, gardeners have used peat moss to condition soil. Peat moss helps to make heavy clay light and fluffy and to hold moisture in sandy soils. Peat moss is also a useful soilless substitute for starting seedlings indoors. But concerns about diminishing peat moss have caused many gardeners to look for a substitute. One promising substitute is coir dust. This product is made form coir fibres, which come from the husk of coconuts.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Coir dust potting soil
- Potting tray
- Watering can
- Cling film
- Fluorescent lamp
Fill the individual compartments of a potting tray with coir dust. Coir dust looks like peat moss, but is slightly granular.
Water the coir dust until the substance is as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
Create planting pockets in each cell by pushing aside coir dust with the tip of a pencil.
Drop a seed into the planting pocket. Most seeds sprout best when planted twice as deep as the seed's diameter at its widest point.
Push the coir fibre into place around the seed. Cover the seedling tray with a piece of cling film and place it 6 inches beneath a fluorescent lamp.
Remove the cling film when the seeds sprout. Check the seedlings daily and water the coir dust whenever it appears dry to the touch. Coir will need less frequent watering than peat moss because it can hold up to nine times its weight in water.
Lift the fluorescent lamp as the plants grow so that the lamp always remains no more than 6 inches away from the tops of the plants.
Move the plants outdoors into the shade during daylight hours for a week to harden them off before transplanting.
Open a planting hole in the ground that is large enough to accommodate the root ball of the plants. Grasp the plant by the stem at the soil line with one hand and push up on the bottom of the planting tray's cell to remove the root ball. Place the roots of the plant along with the coir dust soil into the planting pocket and fill in around the root ball with soil.
Tips and warnings
- Coir dust can be used anywhere that you use peat moss, including potting soil mixes and as a soil conditioner.
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