Coco coir is the fiber, produced from the brown husk that surrounds the shell of the coconut. Coconut coir is also known as palm peat, coco or coir. Coco coir is composed of millions tiny micro-sponges, which absorb and can hold up to 6 to 8 times more water and 1000 times more oxygen. In the world of hydroponics, coco coir has been gaining popularity because of its better water and oxygen retention capabilities. You can mix coco coir with your compost as a hydroponic growing medium for soil-less applications especially in the urban food farms. The natural pH level of 5.7 to 6.7 available with coco coir confirms that coir will hold and release nutrients in solution over extended period of time without re-watering.
Usually, hydroponic companies design nutrients products that are suitable for growing medium like perlite, rockwool, clay pebble and so on. However, coco coir is not like all these common growing medium and needs special care in terms of nutrients solution. Coco coir does not come with essential nutrients unlike soil, so you need to provide adequate amount of essential nutrients. If you want to enjoy big yields and healthy root structure that coco coir offers then do not treat it like any other medium which you have used previously. If your nutrients are not designed to be coco coir safe, you run the risk of poisoning and starving your plants. Coco coir contains both calcium and magnesium naturally. But their amount is not sufficient to feed your plants. Because of its unique chemical properties it makes normal hydroponics nutrients less suitable for your plants. There are special nutrient products available, designed specifically to blend with coconut fiber according to the plants need. For hydroponic growing medium like coco coir, your nutrient should contain chelation magnesium and calcium to get a bigger yield. The best nutrient solutions for coco coir should have some extra calcium, but not too much as it will compete for potassium uptake resulting in a potential for potassium deficiency. Coir is light in weight that retains nutrients against leaching and does not shrink during the plants growing cycle.
Coconut husks contain large quantity of salt that can provide harm to your plants by reducing the plants growth. So, before using, you need to wash them properly or you can use good quality, pre-rinsed coco coir for your hydroponic garden. After the first wash, coco coir tends to bundle up. Therefore, you need to take care of roots and ensure that your plants receive all the oxygen needed by breaking them apart with your hands before you place it in your hydroponics tray.