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Best mix with coconut for herbs?

Posted by Mediocre_Gatsby none (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 2, 13 at 10:15

Hello everyone! Before posting this, I did a bit of research, which ultimately led me to Al's gritty mix. Sadly, I don't have any supplier for pine bark fines. And to get it from another country would take too much effort and at least 3 months to arrive. Ouch. I'm planting Thai basil, Cuban mint, thyme, and rosemary. I live in a tropical place. BUT, there's lots of coconut here. I'm wondering if there's an alternative great mix that uses coconut, and maybe if anyone of you have tried to substitute any form of coconut for Al's gritty mix. Thank you very much!


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RE: Best mix with coconut for herbs?

  • Posted by dsws none (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 11:44

I know nothing, but it's fun to talk about it anyway. I'll try to summarize what I've read elsewhere on here.

What forms of coconut do you have available? The fiber seems as though it would make a peat-like soggy medium, but if the outermost layer or the inner hard part were chipped it could be a plausible substitute for bark.

We tend to see potting medium as a bunch of particles, but water and air see it as a bunch of spaces between particles. If small spaces have air in them, that means lots of surface area of the water. But surface tension tends to pull that surface flat. So small spaces fill with water, and the roots can drown. What we need is a connected network of large-enough spaces, so that oxygen can get all the way from the outside air to every part of the pot.

The size of a drop of water (a drop dripping off of something, not a raindrop) is determined by the balance between the drop's weight and the force of surface tension. As a drop gets larger, its weight increases with the volume but the force of surface tension increases only with its circumference. So drops fall when they get big enough, and smaller drops fall from pointy places where the water flows together into a small circumference.

Water draining out the bottom of a pot is controlled by the same two forces, surface tension and the weight of the water, albeit in a different arrangement. So the size of drip, or a little smaller, is roughly the same order of magnitude as the size of spaces you need to have in your potting medium in order to have it be aerated. Get your medium to have spaces that size, and you can grow plants in pretty much anything as long as it's not actually toxic to them.


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RE: Best mix with coconut for herbs?

Mediocre_Gatsby, if you mean the fiber that is peeled away from the nut itself (the mesocarp) and whose original use was to stuff mattresses - yes, that can, and has been used to grow vegetables in containers, usually an oil drum, cut in half (lengthwise or crosswise).
The technique was developed in the 1960's as a joint venture between the sugar company (Caroni Estates) and the UWI faculty of Agriculture in Trinidad.
I have tried, unsuccessfully, to retrieve any information about this.
Maybe the Department of Agriculture will have the information.
All I remember is that coconut fiber, an NPK fertilizer and MagAmp (a trade name for magnesium ammonium phosphate) were the ingredients for this version of container gardening.
It was very successful in Trinidad which, even at that time, was feeling the pressure for land use.


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