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Credit: Flickr / Umair Mohsin

What do fancy piña coladas, basket liners and garden soil have in common? Coconuts!

A by-product of the coconut industry, coconut fibre, or coir, has made its way into our gardens. Once disregarded as a waste product, today it is recognized as a valuable, eco-friendly addition to our growing mediums and baskets.

Coir used in soil blends helps retain water, while allowing for sufficient drainage and aeration. It promotes strong root and top growth with a plant-friendly pH and the capacity to hold nutrients. It is disease free, pest free and weed free. Coir is a great substitute for peat in the garden; it has similar qualities, but as a by-product of the food industry and a readily renewable resource, it is environmentally friendly. Sea Soil has included coir in some of its soil blends, available in stores that carry its products.

Coir liners are an excellent alternative to the moss traditionally used in hanging baskets. The thick liners can be used for several seasons, then composted. By eliminating the harvesting of moss from forests and reusing a by-product of the food industry, we are helping reduce waste and ecosystem disruption.

This spring, consider how you can incorporate coconut fibre in your garden soil, planter-box blend or hanging baskets. Where you used peat moss, try coir, and where you used moss, try a coconut liner.