Coconut soil has long been an insider tip among hobby gardeners: it is light and free of pests or fungi. We show you the advantages of coconut soil – and whether the long transport route of coconut soil to your own garden is really worth it.
Coco soil consists of dried fibers from coconut palms. Strictly speaking, it is not really soil at all. To produce coco soil, the bark of coconut palms is dried and pressed. To loosen up the coconut soil, small pieces of coconut shells are often added. Coco soil is thus a purely organic product and completely biodegradable.
Coconut soil: advantages at a glance
Coconut soil is now also very popular in home gardens – there are a few reasons for this:
- Coco soil is light and productive. Coconut humus is sold dried and has a low weight. At home, you mix it with water and let it swell – the mass rises and reaches many times its mass. Compared to regular soil, you only need about a third of coco soil for the same amount.
- Coco soil is clean and sterile. The coconut fibers are sterilized before they dry. This makes coco soil free of pests, weed seeds or fungi – so it can’t mold either. Coco soil is therefore particularly suitable for young and sensitive plants and is often included in growing media.
- Coco soil stores water and nutrients. Due to its special cell structure, coco soil can store water and nutrients particularly well and release them evenly. So you need to water less.
- Coco soil is waterproof. The coconut fibers retain their structure even if you water too much. The excess water simply runs off. Even if the soil is completely dry, it will absorb water later without any problems.
- Coco soil has a loose structure. Unlike normal soil, coco soil does not compact. The loose structure allows a lot of oxygen to pass through. This allows fresh air to reach the roots and stimulates growth. Plants that grow in coco soil are also less likely to suffer from root rot.
- Coco soil does not contain peat. Most potting soils contain peat, which is extracted from bogs. Peatlands are not only habitats for countless plant and animal species, but also important CO2 reservoirs. They are destroyed for peat extraction.
Use coconut soil in your own garden – tips & tricks
Coco soil is suitable for flower boxes, tubs and flower beds. Before you can put your plants in the coco soil, you must water the coco substrate so that it swells. You can find out how much water you need on the packaging.
It is well suited for use as a growing medium. However, young and adult plants need nutrients to grow. In order to provide them with nutrients, you need to enrich the coco soil with fertilizer:
You can add a liquid fertilizer to the water while it is still swelling, such as the organic fertilizer from Neudorff. Alternatively, you can also add the fertilizer to the water.
When planting, you can add a slow-release fertilizer that continuously releases nutrients. For example, compost, bark mulch or leaves are suitable (more about organic fertilizers).
You can also mix the coco soil with normal potting soil in a 50:50 ratio.
How sustainable is coconut soil?
Because coconut soil does not contain peat, it is considered an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional potting soil. The fact that waste products from coconut production (the husk) are recycled for coconut soil strengthens its sustainable reputation.
However, the cultivation of coconut palms is anything but sustainable. Coconut palms grow mainly in Asian and South American countries, where rainforests are cleared for coconut plantations. As coconut products become more and more popular, the plantations continue to grow – at the expense of the rainforest. Not only the climate and biodiversity suffer, but also the local population: For the cultivation of coconut palms, they are often expropriated and exploited, explains the initiative Save the Rainforest. The association writes: “Oil or coconut palms are neither bad nor good. The problem lies in the enormous demand for cheap vegetable oils and fats on the world market. The enormous quantities needed by industry can be produced particularly cheaply on huge industrial monocultures and under exploitative working conditions.”
Coconut soil travels thousands of miles before it reaches your garden. Therefore, find out exactly where the coco soil comes from and under what conditions the coconut palms are grown before you decide to use it. For example, there is coconut soil with Gepa certification (“coconut block”). The Fairtrade seal not only guarantees decent working conditions and wages, but also supports local development projects.