Coco & Coir: Everything you need to know*

It’s been four and a half months since I first started my allotment adventure, and I’ve probably learnt more in those few months than I have in the last few years. So, its not surprising that I had no idea what coco peat was, or how it worked at all. However, when Coco & Coir offered to send me a 5kg block to test out I was intrigued. As my allotment is structured around raised beds I’ve been slowly but surely filling them one by one, so finding a sort of compost alternative was quite exciting. After a manic few weeks, I finally managed to open the packet one weekend and give it a go so that I could let you all know my thoughts!

Coco & Coir's coco peat back, gloves and drug

What is coco peat?

For starters, if you (like me) have no idea what this is, coco peat is made from the waste of coconut husks. It’s a sustainable alternative to peat moss.

A coco peat brick expanding after water addition

How do you use coco peat?

It’s a really simple product to use, and I found it fascinating to watch. Basically, you add the brick to a large tub and top off with water. For a 5kg block, 25l is the recommended amount of water to be added. I have a collapsable 5l water container for the allotment so this helped me to get the measurements right. I popped all of this into a 39l garden tub, and fairly quickly realised that it may have been a tiny bit too small, but everyday is a school day, right? It was such a lovely sunny day while I was doing all this, so I literally sat and watched the brick expand for a solid 20 minutes. Then I got my hands in to start fluffing it up, when what I already thought was a large quantity turned into an even larger amount. It feels lovely and soft, and much looser than the compost I’ve been buying. Unfortunately there isn’t any source of water at my allotment, and my 1000l water butt hasn’t been collecting all that much just yet, therefore I did this all at home in my garden – and popped my tub into the car for a little trip.

Reusable sainsburys bags and a tub as carrot planters

What are the benefits of coco peat?

The best thing about coco peat is its ability to retain moisture (even when it doesn’t feel wet) and nutrients. It stays light and airy too, which will help the root systems to grow freely and create a good support system below the surface. I love the fact it comes in such a compact brick, but creates a large yield. When buying bags of compost, there are only so many bags that fit in my little Clio, meaning pretty much every weekend sends me on a compost shopping trip – thankfully I’m not only two beds away from it being complete.

A seed tray filled with coco peat

How I’ll be using coco peat: seed trays

I first decided to test it out this compost alternative for my seed trays. Having recently expanded my seed collection to include flowers after a lovely lady on Instagram donated some beautiful varieties I thought this was the perfect opportunity. I did have to push the peat down quite a lot and top them up again to properly fill the trays just because it is so fluffy. Then I popped my seeds in and added a light dusting of coco over the top and popped a propagator lid on the tray for its new home on my windowsill. Within just two days three out of the eight varieties had sprouted, and after a week I had to repot a few of them because they’d reached the propagator lid. I’ve since potted these on to a coir and compost mix, and planted in some corn which is growing fantastically well – which reminds me, that needs potting on too… You can reuse coco peat time and time again, simply by removing the roots and applying a buffering solution; I’ve opted to just add the remaining coco peat into my beds for now, but next year I’ll definitely be making the most of this tactic for sowing my seeds.

A raised bed filled with coco coir and compost

How I’ll be using coco peat: coir & compost mix

Considering the quantity that the 5kg brick made, I initially wasn’t sure what to do with the rest, but I decided it could be a fantastic option for planting carrots as it’s very fine and light and having read Coco & Coir’s blog on how to grow vegetables in coco peat I thought it was worth a try. I opted for a 50/50 mix of coco peat to compost, as coco doesn’t have the nutrients in that the plants will need to thrive. I’ve also added in some plant feed to the soil, and will top the plants up with some liquid seaweed feed once they’re all settled in. Now I have a bed ready for tomatoes with the 50/50 mix, and the carrots have been sown into a box with plenty of drainage holes and old Sainsbury’s bags for life. If you follow my Instagram, you’ll know that I definitely went a little OTT on the tomato front, with over 40 plants in total these are going to be split between two beds, one entirely filled with compost and the other will be my new hybrid mix. I’m interested to see how much of a difference it makes to the growing conditions, especially if we have the heat wave we had last year!

It’ll be a few months before I can see the results on this, but overall I so far love the coco peat and will definitely be ordering a few more bricks to mix in with the compost for moisture retention. I’ll keep you all updated on the progress (head to @diaryofaladygardener to see my day-to-day updates!) If you’re interested to try this out for yourself, you can order it online from Coco & Coir.

*This post has been sponsored by Coco & Coir, however, all the opinions are my own and I would only ever share a positive product review on things I have personally tried, tested and loved.