Coconut coir is coconut plant fiber which is entirely made out of coconut husks, this is a feasible solution for growing your Microgreens.
Most people choose Coconut coir for growing Microgreens because it is an organic medium. Who doesn’t love organically grown Microgreens? Coco coir is easily available in the market at affordable prices and easy to use as well. Try this one from Amazon US or this one from Amazon UK.
How to Grow Microgreens in coconut coir growing medium?
Collect all the material at one place which you will need for growing Microgreens. Materials include seeds, water spray bottle, growing medium and trays. Try getting organic seeds. If you are growing for your own family then try buying seeds in less quality but different varieties. If you are storing seeds make sure you store them in airtight containers in a cool and dry place.
If you are growing a single bed of Microgreens then you’ll require 2 plastic trays of size 10×20-inch, size can be varied as per your requirement. One tray will be with holes, the other one without holes. You can either buy trays from the market or reuse the available containers which are suitable for growing Microgreens. Trays collected from supermarkets such as vegetable trays, yogurt cups, ice cream cups can also work. You can make holes in those containers and experiment with it.
Coconut coir is available on the market, you can buy them directly and use it. Always buy peat type coconut coir which is available either in bricks form or in bags. Don’t buy chips type coconut coir as it requires effort for further making it to finer/softer form.
If you’ve purchased brick coconut coir then you’ll have to put that in a big container. Start pouring water on coco coir and it will start expanding. When it expands fully then you can start breaking it down using your hands until it comes to an even consistency. Please don’t add an excessive quantity of water, your coco coir should look like powdered format (A smaller amount of moisture works fine).
Take the tray which has holes in it, start filling the coco coir evenly in the tray. Spreading it evenly is very important as we need a flat surface. Don’t compress coco coir and fill it up to the top of the tray or little below that. Place this tray on top of the tray without holes, this tray will act like a catch basin and also used for watering the crop.
It’s time to sprinkle the seeds all over the tray evenly, try your best to get the even coverage as much as possible. With pH-balanced water generously mist the seeds with the spray bottle.
At this point, seeds demand dark and warm places for the perfect germination. Take the other tray (without holes) and place it on the bed face up. During this period seeds start germinating, they start shooting opposite to the bottom of the tray, which in turn helps them break off their husks. Place it on some shelf, remember not to expose it to sunlight at this moment. You can keep these trays in the kitchen, dining table, halls, garage, somewhere near the windows. All you need to keep in mind is the temperature and exposure to light.
On the second day, we mist the seeds and then cover them up with a tray bottom facing upside. This is to let the seeds know where the roots should grow.
For 3-4 days mist once per day without fail, once the roots start growing it’s time to add some water in the bottom tray as well. This is to keep the moisture in place and not allow the plants to turn brown. Growth speed depends on the choice of seeds, as some seeds grow faster and some seeds take longer time.
It’s always best to harvest Microgreens when they’ve reached a certain height. They stop growing when they are exposed to light. So you have to decide on which preferred height you would like to expose them to light and stop covering the Microgreens.
From here on you are allowed to sprinkle water mixed with a nutrient solution or just pH balanced water. You need to pour it inside the bottom tray. Now Microgreens start growing cotyledons then first true leaves. Watering once per day works fine when the environment is below 25 degrees, if the temperature is higher than water them twice. Allow enough light to pass through them so that they can develop better. It can be grown all over the year in any season. In a small area, you can grow huge varieties.
Within a span of 8-10days, you’ll witness nutritious and tasty Microgreens grown in the comfort of your place or the garden.
Microgreen salad, anyone?
What you must know about coconut coir as a growing medium?
It is important to choose finely processed coconut coir to grow your Microgreens. Coconut coir is made from very long coconut fibers. It’s not recommended to use in this form. Always choose the coconut coir which is pre-chopped and allow it to further break down for a while.
Consider you’ve got freshly harvested and cut coconut coir which further needs to be broken down to finer/softer form naturally. It’s always best to use it in this form as it is easier for the Microgreens to accommodate it. It won’t constrict the germination of the seeds and allows roots to develop well. You can grow them to preferred heights. These days you’ll easily find the coco coir in bricks form or the bags. With the help of water, you can make a fine consistency and can use it for growing a wide variety of Microgreens.
The growing medium must be even because it adds up to the right texture, flavor profile and perfect length while harvesting the crop. When you are growing for business purposes it is very important to consider these factors.
The best part of using this is that it is biodegradable and eco-friendly. This can be produced in larger quantities so say no to scarcity. Readily available so it is easy to use as well.
What other growing mediums are available?
Apart from coco coir, there are few more growing mediums available for growing Microgreens.
Soil-based: This is also called potting soil which is also known as a miracle soil.
- Coco coir :
Coco coir alone can be used as a growing medium or can be mixed with the soil which has a good water retention rate, holds nutrients, and is not coarse.
- Peat moss :
This got greater drainage properties and water retention capacity. It is a decomposition of some living materials and mosses in peat bogs.
- Growing mats (soilless medium) :
These mats are made of a mixture of wood, textile, coconut fiber, Rockwool, bamboo, jute, hemp, and other substances.
- Water and air are the mediums here. This is also called NFT systems.
Why choose coco coir over other growing mediums?
- If you choose to grow in the soil mix, even though the soil is largely used to grow Microgreens. Sometimes the soil may develop lumps and it can constrict growth of roots. This can lead to the uneven length of the crop which is not recommended. Also, you should make sure that the soil mix has a perfect balance of nutrients and water-retention property.
- If you choose to grow in mats, it could be a little expensive if you are producing in a large mass. Coco coir is comparatively cheap, easy, and flexible to use if you are ready to make your hands a little dirty in the garden. Hydroponic mats hold less nutritional value so you may require adding fertilizers to water while misting the seeds.
- If you choose to grow in peat moss, peat moss is less sustainable as compared to coco coir. Peat moss takes a longer time to renew and coco coir can be easily produced in lots of tons per year.
Coco coir is made out of coco husks.
Advantages and disadvantages of coco coir medium:
Water retention: Coco coir is known for its water retention capacity, it can hold water almost 8-10 times of its actual weight.
Aeration: Since coconut is fibrous it provides a lot of aery texture so that oxygen can penetrate well.
Holds nutrients: If it can hold water then it can hold nutrients too which are required for the crop’s nutritional value.
Repels pests: Coconut fiber holds the quality of pathogen repellent. Most of it is sterile so no need to worry about the bacterial activity.
Neutral pH: Its ideal pH value is between 6.0-6.8 which is considered neutral. You can mix this with soil without worrying about change in pH levels.
Biodegradable and reusable: Can be reused in gardening and it gets decayed naturally without any hassle.
Sustainable: Since it is made from the husk of a coconut and making fiber from this is a renewable resource.
Eco Friendly: It causes no harm during production, usage, and while decaying.
Chemical containment: To get rid of the pathogens some manufactures utilize chemicals during the drying process. It is always better to check for the coco coir which didn’t go under such treatments.
High salt levels: It is observed that based on the method of manufacturing coco coir can contain a high amount of salts as they soak it in saline water. Even though they rinse it off before further processing it, you must keep an eye on its salt levels for sure. It is just to make sure crops don’t get into unnecessary trouble.
Expensive: It is not very expensive but still if you are growing on a large scale then expenses might shoot up for the purchase.
No nutrients: It does have an ability to hold on to some of the nutrients, it doesn’t have a fertility feature. This in turn demands you to supply some amount of nutrients and fertilizers.
Home grown microgreens.
Do’s and Don’ts while growing Microgreens in coco coir medium:
- Maintaining the right pH balance is very essential.
- Even distribution of any growing medium for the perfect height during harvesting.
- Exposing Microgreens to light at the right time.
- Adequate watering to retain the moisture.
- Harvesting at the right time to avail of the perfect flavor and texture of the crop.
- Using ceramic scissors, knives, and other tools during harvesting to avoid oxidation.
- Usage of right water sprayers can ease your efforts.
- Buying organic seeds that are superior quality seeds can give your Microgreens high nutritional value.
- Adding fertilizers can elevate your yield but to retain the organic feature, you can avoid fertilizers as well.
- Excess use of fertilizers needs to be controlled.
- Using kitchen scissors need to be avoided if you are growing for business purposes.
- Allowing the crops to grow for a longer time can lose their taste.
- Exposing to light during the earlier growth of Microgreens.
- Watering in large quantities.
- Highly compressing the growing medium.
Coco coir growing medium can be reused?
You can reuse it but the Microgreens won’t regrow in general. There are few Microgreens which regrow once or twice. Reusing the used coco coir medium can be problematic at times like you might come across the old roots, lumps, you will have a tough time in bringing the coco coir to a uniform consistency. Hence reusing is not recommendable. But you can utilize this in mixing with soil or using for other gardening purposes. You don’t have to hassle about its piling up on the land.
These are the power pack of nutrients, deliciousness, and make your food look more presentable. They can be used in a wide variety of foods such as starters, salads, desserts, soups, sandwiches, pizzas, pasta, burgers, and the list never ends. Kids to adults, it can be beneficial to every individual. Rich in antioxidants, minerals, Vitamins C, Vitamin E, phytonutrients, Enzymes, and Beta-carotene. The percentage of nutrients present is greater than the completely grown vegetable. No wonder, Microgreen is a functional food. It helps in strengthening your immune system, improves eyesight, reducing the risk of heart disorders, controls constipation, reducing the cholesterol level, and much more. Hence grow your Microgreens, consume them on a regular basis, and live a healthy life. After all, health is wealth, let’s pledge to live a healthy life!
Growing microgreens in a coconut shells is also a very economical way and beautiful at the same time, don’t you think?
Want to learn more?
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