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A Guide to Coco as a Grow Medium

Coco is one of many grow mediums that are gaining popularity these days, however, there are a lot of misconceptions on how to use it; I've been growing in coco for several years, so I will share my experience with you. Whenever you grow in hydroponics and other earth-less mediums, it is important to have good instruments to measure your pH and EC.

About Coco and CEC

Coco is a natural renewable growth medium made from coconut shells by people all around the world. Coco is able to hold 10 times its own weight in water, and any extra water will flood down and push the coco out of the bottom of the pot. Even when coco is saturated with nutrients, it will still hold a minimum of 30% water, this makes it impossible to over water coco, although more correct watering routines will be able to increase growth and production. Coco is a unique growth medium, and to take advantage of its good qualities we must manage the negative ones; Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) is the measurement of how much an organic medium can absorb and hold positive ions such as K+, Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, etc. Coco contains natural Na and K ions that need to be balanced in regards to the rest of the minerals. CEC will always draw what's available, mainly Ca and to a lesser extent Mg, to reach a balance. When coco reaches a balanced CEC, these elements will be easily available to the plant, and the CEC will help the plant absorb nutrients as needed. Without a balanced CEC, coco will quickly give you a lot of deficiencies.

Water Source

Just like in hydroponics, the water source is very important in coco. Different sources of nutrients are made for different types of water, so be sure to check your water source before choosing a particular type of coco nutrient. The water should be between 0.2 – 0.4 EC.

Choice of Nutrients

Your choice of nutrients should reflect your water source; use nutrients designed for coco, but if you have to use hydroponic nutrients, be sure to compensate for the extra Ca and Mg that coco nutrients contain. Some good sources are the “Canna Coco” series and “GHE Flora.”

Preparation of Coco

There is a wide spectrum when dealing with the quality of coco, as some brands need to be washed to remove salts. Some suppliers pre-wash, others don’t. You can verify this by checking the run-off water. Remember to charge CEC with Ca before using the coco.

Growing

  • Min EC: 0.4
  • Max EC: 1.6
  • Water temperature: 18°C-24°C
  • pH: 5.6-6.2

Watering from the top is important for coco to work properly since gravity pulls water, nutrients, and oxygen throughout the medium and flushes out the old nutrients. I recommend watering coco by hand because this way, you get a proper flushing. Coco should never be allowed to dry out. Water every 1-2 days, and until 10-20% of what you put in comes out. When the plants are young, start low with 0.4 EC and progress slowly to a maximum of 1.6 EC halfway through its flowering cycle. To stimulate root growth you can use an algae based root stimulator such as Canna Rhizotonic.

Drugs


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