Coco coir is a byproduct of coconut fiber. It was first used in gardening in the West in the 19th century, but fell out of favor because the low-quality coco available at the time degraded when used for short-term growing. Toward the end of the 20th century, it was rediscovered as an organic, environmentally sustainable substrate when new production methods made it possible to create hardier product.
Coco coir is manufactured using fiber that’s torn from coconut shells. The tiny grains of coir are extracted from the coconut shell and pulverized into a packable growing substrate. First, the coconuts go through the retting process, a curing method that naturally decomposes the husk’s pulp. Traditionally, coconut husks were immersed in water for six months or longer to decompose. Today, the retting process can be completed in a little over a week using modern mechanical techniques.
Next, the coconut fiber is removed from the shells by steel combs, in a process known as defibering.
Once the fiber, or coir, is gathered from the husk, it’s then dried, pressed into bricks, discs, coir pots. or bagged as a loose mulch. In this dried, processed state, the coir is ready to sell and use.