Jiffy Mix

woebegoniaMarch 8, 2014

Finally the great thaw reached us and we set out for the city to look for garden items, starting with WalMart. Bad news, we used to find Jiffy Organic Seed Starting Mix for about $3 per bag, now they have changed the formulation adding coir and the price is about $2 more. That's disappointing, if it aint broke don't fix it by adding coir, I don't think anyone wants that, it's just a cheap substritute for sphagnum. Nothing at Home Depot, either, guess I will have to pin my hopes on Lowe's next time we venture out.

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I think the peat is being used up at an alarming rate so they have found a new substitute. What do you find bad about coir?

Coir instead of Peat

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 10:32AM
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It's such a 'nothing', I don't think it is even acidic or absorbent either, it is also supposed to be propaganda about the the shortage of sphagnum.. I read an article in Natural History magazine a number of years ago about the prevalence of the peat bogs around the world. It also said during World War II Ireland and other countries burned it for heat as so much other fuel was rationed - they estimated the tonage, I don't remember what it was but the article ended with the comment that more than that blows off the freight trains yearly in Russia where they still use it.i'm skeptical about some of these statements where dollars and cents are concerned.I I found a note from the Container Growing forum, that coir has less aeration and should be used in mixes at a lower percentage than peat, it will pack.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 9:45AM
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I see you have your reasons to be skeptical. Maybe Russia should start exporting it to be a win-win situation for supply and demand?

Coir will wet and will breathe probably better than peat (it actually dries out quicker I find). Not sure about it packing though. I suppose it will over time but peat does too.

Yeah, I know they have burned peat for millennia but so did the settlers and native Americans burn buffalo chips. Are you suggesting they return to burning peat or they were wrong to burn it during times of need?

Eventually we will strip the land of everything at the rate we are going. It probably won't be in our lifetimes but there will come a time of exhausting natural supplies. The earth is very large but not inexhaustible with 7 billion humans needing land and food to survive.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:12AM
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all of my newly bought plants including hybrid aloe, jades and broms and all tropicals of course come in pure coir. i usually do not repot them for a mo or two - and they do remarkably well in it. when i do repot - it just falls off the roots very easily, no need to poke/soak/wash it out. and i actually remix it into new mix instead or in addition to peat.
i have had nothing but great experience with it.
in subtropical regions where most tropicals are grown it is used extensively. i find it drains exceptionally well, rewets easily and roots love it (apparently it releases potassium). it is also neutral and does not bind N, but needs extra calcium and magnesium (there's always smth ;)).
and of course it is organic too: it's coconut husks, what's not organic about that? how is peat more organic?
i have been looking for more info on it and some people state that it is better then bark (coco-chips that is).
found a post with nutrient info:
It's air capacity is about 30%.
Coir is most suited as a run to waste medium.
Coir can become saturated and it is not truly inert medium.
This means that the nutrient will change over a short period (due to the nutrient collecting micro and macro elements as it passes through the coir.
Coir tends to release potassium and to withhold calcium.
For this reason it is desirable to use a nutrient that is blended specifically for coir.
Coir has a remarkable capacity to protect the plants root system in times of heat.
It also tends to promote vigorous and healthy root development.
Plant growth tends to be very consistent with coir.
Coir is very tolerant of over and under watering, which makes it a very forgiving growing medium.
Coir has a very strong cation exchange ability, which means it can hold and release nutrient elements based on the plants needs.
Coir tends to retain nutrient salts. because of this, less nutrient (lower ec) is required.
On a less positive note, coir can also contain high levels of sodium (salt)....
If your growing in coir be aware that this can be a potential problem.
Either purchase a pre-flushed coir product or flush ph (5.5-6.0) stabilised water through the coir prior to use.
Measure the ec of the water and then measure the ec of the run off.
When they are the same, it is ready for use.
Large amounts of potassium are naturally present in coir.
Potassium competes with calcium and magnesium... buffering and plant nutrition needs to compensate for this!!
For this reason there are several nutrients that are specifically formulated with the coco coir's unique characteristics in mind.

Here is a link that might be useful: here's another thread about it in c&s

This post was edited by petrushka on Sun, Mar 9, 14 at 17:38

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 12:17PM
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I think we are going to see more and more coir used over the years.

I buy the coir liners for wire baskets - great product in my opinion since they are cut to wire baskets, no wetting sheet moss or overlapping of sheet moss.

The last two amaryllis bulbs I have gotten come with a thin disk of compressed coir that you will wet with the recommended amount of warm water, fluff up after it has expanded, and put your bulbs in. Works great!

Also bought a Burpee seed tray with coir pellets last year but used those for begonia cuttings. I did see some mold in parts of the tray but that may have come from the cuttings themselves. One word of caution on the pellets is make sure to line them up vertically in the liner cell before adding water! If put in horizontally then it will expand in that direction and it is hard to undo once it is wet.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 1:17PM
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Very interesting discussion.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:41AM
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i am just learning about it myself. need to get me some bricks ;).
apparently where and how it's processed varies a lot - so you need to look for a good source.
i regard UofFL info as very reliable (the article is from the mid 90s it looks like, they list some reliable sources):
... seeds sown in a 1:1 (v:v) mix of coir dust and perlite seem to develop larger root systems than those germinated in 1:1 sphagnum and perlite.
and ..the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is currently shifting most of its plant production into coir dust-based media.

that's a pretty high praise!

Here is a link that might be useful: UofFL article

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:32AM
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A pleasant Easter surprise! A local feed and grain store carries both forms of Jiffy Mix (16 oz. bag of the usual and 8 oz. bag of the form with coir), so I am stocking up.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 9:16AM
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i got this very funny surprise the other day;
was mixing some soil and needed some peat for starting caladiums, so i grab a bag of miracle-gro expandable-peat that i had for like 3 years (thinking it was reg peat, never read the label ;), wet it and suddenly realize that it's coir-peat!
once you know what it feels and looks like wetted, it's quite unmistakable.
and here i was adding it to mixes for sev years without knowing. pays to read the label!
now i'll know i should be able to find it locally, instead of ordering. somehow i can't start myself on mail-ordering scoria/LF sphagnum/coir bricks even though i need them badly. went to local orchid district - and none of them carry LF sphag. some even did not know what i was talking about. weird people.
i use moist coir peat to start up my begonia tubers too.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 11:32AM
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