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Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

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Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

Post  sallysgarden on 5/6/2011, 8:04 pm

I'm a total beginner in Portland, Oregon and the very knowledgeable Urban Farm Store recommends I substitute coco fiber for peat moss because the coco is much less acidic and this is apparently a concern here. Thoughts? Experience? Thanks

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Re: Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

Post  camprn on 5/6/2011, 8:25 pm

Hi Sally to the SFG Forum! Yeah, Very Happy I'm not buying that line from the sales person. Peatmoss from Canada is just perfect and the preferred substance for Mel's mix in this neck of the woods. Here is some information...coir vs. sphagnum (peat) moss <~~~ Click
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Re: Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

Post  sallysgarden on 5/7/2011, 12:14 am

Thanks for taking the time to reply, Camprn. I went to the link but it only references tomatoes and impatiens and doesn't mention soil acidity. So please bear with a nervous novice: isn't it possible that conditions in the NW are very different from the NE?; and I'm not sure how widely to apply the research since my three initial beds will hold a wide variety of vegetables - not just tomatoes, which we may do separately in a special gizmo since many find them challenged out here...... Any further advice from all you veterans out there would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

Post  shannon1 on 5/7/2011, 3:21 am

If I have not said so already Sally, as far as coir vs. peat goes here is another bit of info from an articale on the fine gardening web site. www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/getting-to-the-coir-of-the-matter.aspx

" While peat tends to be acidic, coir leans toward a near-ideal pH, depending on the source. Some people also find that coir is easier to work with than peat. Coir retains more water than peat, making it a wise choice for many containers and hanging baskets. But the potential for high levels of soluble salts to accumulate is greater with coir-based than with peat-based soils. To eliminate any cause for concern, be sure to buy coir products from a reputable company."
They are not selling coir nor peat. Very Happy
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Re: Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

Post  Barkie on 5/7/2011, 6:19 am

Hi and Welcome to the forum.

I can understand the sales person recommending what they think is a good thing for using with your local dirt but they don't seem to know that the latest version of Mel's Mix doesn't contain dirt. Obviously it won't be of use to you knowing that coir or peat is good for your local dirt unless you are planting in that dirt.

I think Mel's Mix would be slightly different in pH depending on the brand of vermiculite and each of the composts used but still within the range that most plants need. The
bagged composts I have been able to buy don't state the pH at all so I'll have to
stick my test meter in to see.

Regards,
Barkie

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Re: Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

Post  acara on 5/7/2011, 6:52 am

@sallysgarden wrote:I'm a total beginner in Portland, Oregon and the very knowledgeable Urban Farm Store recommends I substitute coco fiber for peat moss because the coco is much less acidic and this is apparently a concern here. Thoughts? Experience? Thanks

I ran into this for the first time last season.... evidently coir is "the new black".

I found my vermiculite at an organic/hydroponic supply store and asked for a bag of peat moss also .....

The salesperson looked at me in disgust, wrinkled their nose & started wagging their finger at me about the "pH neutral" aspects of coir & that peat was not renewable and how I was single handedly ruining the planet by using peat moss.

If the guy had been a little older than the socks I was wearing at the time Very Happy , or a little more polite, I might have paid attention a litte more ...... tongue

However, I've heard subsequent info that is similar to what he mentioned. For my part, I've worked with the coir a couple of times in the last year. The pro's are that it's a really good water indicator when used as a top dressing. The "con's" are that its very small grained and blows around alot if not completely saturated and floats worse than Pearlite in water. Personally, I found it a lot harder to work with than peat moss.

Just my .02

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Re: Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

Post  camprn on 5/7/2011, 7:45 am

@sallysgarden wrote:I'm a total beginner in Portland, Oregon and the very knowledgeable Urban Farm Store recommends I substitute coco fiber for peat moss because the coco is much less acidic and this is apparently a concern here. Thoughts? Experience? Thanks
Yup, it is true that the coir is neutral pH and the sphagnum has a pH of around 4. Are you doing more than one bed? Maybe it is a good time to try a side by side comparison. I apologize for not directly answering the question in my previous response. Very Happy
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Re: Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

Post  Furbalsmom on 5/7/2011, 2:32 pm

@sallysgarden wrote: I'm a total beginner in Portland, Oregon and the very knowledgeable Urban Farm Store recommends I substitute coco fiber for peat moss because the coco is much less acidic and this is apparently a concern here. Thoughts? Experience? Thanks .....

Thanks for taking the time to reply, Camprn. I went to the link but it only references tomatoes and impatiens and doesn't mention soil acidity. So please bear with a nervous novice: isn't it possible that conditions in the NW are very different from the NE?; and I'm not sure how widely to apply the research since my three initial beds will hold a wide variety of vegetables - not just tomatoes, which we may do separately in a special gizmo since many find them challenged out here...... Any further advice from all you veterans out there would be greatly appreciated.

Sally,

I live on the Southern Oregon Coast and succesfully use Mel's Mix just as described in the book. Peat Moss is the way to go.

The native soil in Western Oregon and Western Washington is usually considered to be acidic.
OR Extension Service
However, one thing your "gardening consultant" may not have considered, you are not amending your native soil. Instead, you are creating a complete growing medium, without native soil.

Hope this is helpful.

And by the way,
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What a wonderful community!

Post  sallysgarden on 5/9/2011, 3:41 pm

Thank you all so much for sharing your knowhow. How come it never occurred to me that soil acidity doesn't apply since I'm not using soil? And how will my poor little plants ever grow up properly with such a spaced out, illogical mother??!? I'm off to round up the magic three ingredients today and hoping the promised dry, sunny tomorrow will allow us to make a start.

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Re: Acidity: coco fiber vs. peat moss

Post  Furbalsmom on 5/9/2011, 6:34 pm

Momma's not spaced out or illogical.

This is a whole new way to thinking, and look at you, asking good questions.
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