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Problems with coconut coir seed starters

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Problems with coconut coir seed starters

Post  Jhooks on 3/20/2013, 9:11 pm

Anyone having issues with seedlings grown in coconut coir pellets (Burpee)?My tomatoes and peppers look downright sickly compared to the ones I grew in the peat pellets (Jiffy). Is it me,or am I crazy? Both grown under the same T5 grow lights, heated mat, and watered at the same time.
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Re: Problems with coconut coir seed starters

Post  littlejo on 3/20/2013, 9:44 pm

I've heard (not used myself) that they don't soak up the water as well as anything else. Try watering and let it be sure and soak into the coir.
Jo
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Re: Problems with coconut coir seed starters

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 3/20/2013, 9:57 pm

Hi,
I have had a similar problem with the coconut coir plugs. If you look under the seed section, you will find a post called
"coconut coir vs. peat plugs???" I got a wonderful answer to my problem from a fellow square foot gardener. I hope you find the response as helpful as I did.

Patty from Yorktown
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Re: Problems with coconut coir seed starters

Post  jazzycat on 3/20/2013, 10:23 pm

Mine seem to be doing fine so far. Very nice growth. Very stout and sturdy plants.

The kit I bought has a self watering mat under the plants, so I haven't had to bother with wondering how water to give them. I really liked using this kit. I need to transplant them up, but I need more lights. We'll see how they do once I get them in compost.

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Re: Problems with coconut coir seed starters

Post  Jhooks on 3/20/2013, 10:33 pm

Thanks Patty. Much appreciated
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weird--I have the opposite situation

Post  Hardcoir on 3/21/2013, 8:48 am

I have some seeds in peat pellets and some in coco coir mix. In my tomatoes, I had to transplant into bigger containers 10 days earlier than I had to for the peat pellets.

Also, I have both organic Jiffy Mix and organic Burpee's Mix Seed starting formula, and the Burpee's by far has produced better results.
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Re: Problems with coconut coir seed starters

Post  Windmere on 3/21/2013, 10:12 am

@Hardcoir wrote:
Also, I have both organic Jiffy Mix and organic Burpee's Mix Seed starting formula, and the Burpee's by far has produced better results.

Interesting about the Burpees Mix Seed starting. I need to look into that further. Thanks for mentioning your experience.
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Re: Problems with coconut coir seed starters

Post  Jhooks on 3/21/2013, 10:19 am

The seeds in the coir actually sprouted first but seemed to hit a wall. Peppers are turning yellowish and tomatoes are just not growing true leaves. Going to try a little science experiment and put a watered down organic fertilizer on half of them and see what happens. I suspect that's the issue. Learn something new every season.
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Re: Problems with coconut coir seed starting

Post  GloriaG on 3/21/2013, 5:15 pm

FWIW - In growing orchids for many years, I've learned a bit about using peat and coir.

Peat has better capillary action than coir - which means that water will distribute better in peat and it will dry-out more evenly. Whereas, water tends to gravitate to the bottom in coir. Therefore, seedlings planted in coir will have a greater tendency to "damp-off" or be over-watered as the top looks dry but the bottom of the pot remains wet. (Been there and done that!)

Peat is slightly more acidic than coir - therefore it should be better for tomato seedlings.

Neither peat or coir have any nutrient value unless it's been added by the manufacturer. Also, neither will "buffer" the effects of fertilizer added. Therefore, using a 1/4 strength mix of balanced liquid organic fertilizer regularly is better than adding a full or half-strength dose at one time.

Hope this helps!


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Re: Problems with coconut coir seed starters

Post  dvelten on 3/21/2013, 8:43 pm

Last year I used both Burpee Starting Mix in Jiffy strips and the Burpee plugs in their cell based starting kit. I had terrible results that I documented in a post on my blog. At the time I had no idea what was happening. I have lots of experience starting seeds in soil-less mixes based on peat and perlite (so does the entire greenhouse industry, which has been using peat/perlite mixes for 50 years).

When I discovered that both the Burpee mix and plugs used coir and not peat, I went looking for answers. I found a research paper that described what I experienced. For myself, I plan to avoid coir-based seed starting mixes in the future. If you had a good experience, good for you. That does not change what I and others have experienced using coir-based products. And product name contests mean nothing - both Burpee and Jiffy are offering coir-based mixes. You have to read the label to see what you are using.

jhooks, I agree, try some dilute organic fertilizer. I hope it works for you. It didn't for me, so I went nuclear and tried Miracle Grow. That didn't help either. The only thing that made a difference was transplanting into the garden so the roots could grow into the MM. For lettuce and endive/escarole, that worked. But the peppers and tomatoes, which had to stay inside longer, were permanently stunted and failed to produce after transplant.
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Re: Problems with coconut coir seed starters

Post  Jhooks on 3/21/2013, 9:17 pm

Dvelton, thanks for the info. That research paper was very interesting. I could've taken a picture of my trays and put them right next to the ones in the paper. They looked exactly the same.
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