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Thread: About Those Coconut Chips...

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    Charlatan lizasaur's Avatar
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    About Those Coconut Chips...

    The best Neps I've gotten over time have all been potted with some mixture of Coconut Chips. And as they've grown and media degraded, it's time to replace it.
    I've finally got my hands on some coconut chips.
    I was thinking about 2 parts LFS, 1 part Perlite, 1 part Coconut Chips.

    But after flipping through various forums and websites, it's either a really good thing, or a really bad thing.

    But the one, definite thing is that I have to wash them really good with Epsom salts.

    *coughs quietly as she breaks out her classic naivety* What are these Epsom saltS?
    Like, I've heard of Epsom salt. But my question..s...are...is there a special kind of Epsom salt for this purpose? Are there various types of Epsom salts, since the most informative article I read said salts, as in plural, indicating a blend.
    Also, I don't fully understand the problem that can occur afterward. After rinsing the chips after their soak in the salt water, they should be rinsed more? Because of something with the fertilizers, and I don't get that, but I don't fertilize my plants, so I guess I shouldn't have a problem?

    I dunno. I just like things being blunt and in layman's terms. None of this "Sodium Ions + Potassium Ions = Calcium".

    Thank you ^-^

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    Taargus's Avatar
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    Sorry to do this to you but its really the only way I can think to explain it. Hope it makes sense, I tried to layman-ize as best I could, lol. Sodium and Potassium ions are bound to the coco chips and need to be leached out. Using epsom salts, ie. calcium sulfate and magnesium sulfate to wash allows for a cation exchange to occur, leaching the chips. Its supposed to be soaked in the epsom salts an then rinsed with distilled, because distilled alone doesn't do a good enough job of removing the sodium and potassium. Epsom salts are plural because it is a mix, but its purchased premixed so it's of no consequence to you. You can pick up a box at most pharmacies and grocery stores cheap.

    The only problem I've had with coco husk chips is when they break down, they break down, done, squish, terrible. I use them for some of my orchids, but stopped with anything in a terrarium as it just turns into a mess in about a year due to being in a constant state of wet.
    Last edited by Taargus; 06-20-2010 at 08:22 PM. Reason: clarification

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    Charlatan lizasaur's Avatar
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    Hm. Okay..
    I understood there's naturally salts in there that need to be leeched out, which, after I may have just learned in biology, says Distilled water would be enough (what with hydroponic solutions and all), but needed the Epsom salts to leech out the water makes sense.
    What stumped me is why even after that there'd still be problems, I think a final rinse or two would be the end of it.

    Thank you for the info though =) I'm glad there's nothing special that warrants me traveling across town for again

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    Taargus's Avatar
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    The epsom salts leach out the sodium and potassium and the point is that distilled water is not enough. At least one soak in the salts, and then rinse with distilled. Its an important step if you are going to use them. Most chips come prerinsed but I dont think they do the salt leaching step for you.

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    Frilleon's Avatar
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    Why not use orchid bark? No need to soak in salt. Seams like a lot of work and risky to me.
    Grow List: http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=116427
    Member of BACPS & ICPS

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    swords's Avatar
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    I wonder if Coir/Eco-Earth is the same - being laden with salts that need to be leached out? That could explain plants growing poorly in it.

    You could also use shredded cypress mulch too as your wood/bark, one bag lasts a long time and only costs about $4 for 2 cubic feet.

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    I used to use coconut husk chips for a lot of things and never had any problem with salts. I read somewhere that the salt problem is hit or miss and depends on whether the coconuts had floated in salt water before processing. I always soaked and rinsed CHC a couple times, just in case, but I would taste the water to find out how salty it would get and never tasted any salt at all. As for the life expectancy of the chips, they live a long time in an orchid basket but, like someone mentioned, they don't do so well if constantly wet.
    Bruce in CT

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    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    Alll you ever wanted to know and then some...

    FWIW Ive used coir in my ceph mixes for years with what I would consider decent results. I tried chunks with several cp's but their roots grew into the chunks, impossible to seperate.

    But here is a good read on the subject of coconut husk chips/chunks
    http://ladyslipper.com/coco3.htm

    Av

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