Homes and gardens

Cocopeat for your home garden

Coconut husk is emerging as a rich resource for a variety of products as well as soil-less gardening. The coconut fibre has been known since long as raw material for a large number of products such as ropes, coir mats, coir mesh, bio-filter and even yarn that could go into rough linen. Cocopeat (a mixture of dust as well as the non-useable fibre ends) is of late emerging as the choice for non-terrestrial plants, mainly for urban homes where space constraints force people to look for alternative material.

Normally the fibres around the coconut kernel comprise one-third of husk. The remaining two-thirds consist of dusty contents which are extremely rich in nutrients. Several entrepreneurs are now eyeing an opportunity to use the cocopeat for a variety of products. It has come to be used in a big way for hydroponic (soil-less) cultivation.

Absorbent

A kilogram of cocopeat is said to be capable of absorbing seven litres of water and retaining it for several months. Cocopeat is now being compacted into solid blocks for commercial purposes. It sees 17-fold volumetric expansion when treated with water. High porosity of the coco peat substratum allows good air circulation and quick vegetative propagation when planted with saplings. Besides, it is rich in nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and other necessary substances for farming.

These properties have already made it a very popular medium for kitchen or roof gardening. It is increasingly being seen as an ideal medium for grow bag-based home gardening due to its capacity to retain water for long.

Huge opportunity

According to S.K. Gowthaman, CEO of Bio Garddener, a Coimbatore-based firm specialising in coco peat products, 75 coconut trees could be grown on a one-acre farm. Each tree yields 150 to 180 fruits in a year.

A nut, on being peeled, yields around 100 grams of husk. With India being the second largest coconut-growing nation (after Indonesia) among the 93 countries worldwide, the opportunities for use of coco-peat are huge.

Sustainable alternative

Home gardening enthusiasts see cocopeat as a sustainable alternative to soil. Hydroponic plants grown in cocopeat grow fifty per cent faster than they would in soil. It also eliminates the need for fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides as peat itself carries ample nutrients. Since the peat retains water for long, it reduces the requirement for water as well as the effort to water the plant. Being porous it provides better aeration for the roots. With cocopeat being turned into pots and pans, it serves both as an alternative to soil as well as a plant-holder. These pots could even be hung in balconies or arranged on screens for vertical gardens.

Coco-disks

P.B. Sundareshan from Srivari Coirs, a firm based in Pollachi, says they even produce coco-poles for supporting creepers and coco-disks which could be used as the lid over the soil carrying flower pots. These, while allowing water to percolate slowly, check evaporation and thereby cut water consumption. However coco-disks are now widely used for germination of seeds by nurseries. The cocopeat does not allow even grass or weeds to grow. Of late, coco peat is also finding aesthetic uses what with calendars, clock dials and greeting cards being designed with boards made of it

Meanwhile, even coco fibre is making forays into the new product range. Loosely woven coir mats are now being used to check soil erosion from railway sidings and banks of water bodies. Being bio-degradable, they help fixing the soil and vegetation to grow speedily through the pores.


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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 12:09:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/cocopeat-for-your-home-garden/article23393105.ece

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