Dear Peat, We’re Through

Dear Peat,

We’ve gardened together for years, and I appreciate all you brought to our joint endeavors, but I think it’s time we parted. I can’t kid myself that our relationship is sustainable any more so I’m moving on. I know we’ll be crossing paths if I buy some started plants at the farmers market or garden center, but I believe we can be adult about it and not make a scene.

Also, I feel I owe it to you to be up front about this. I’ve found someone else and we’re going to give it a try and see how it works out. You may have heard of Coco Coir. I picked her up at the garden center. We started some seeds together the same day. Yeah, I know that sounds kind of fast, but despite what’s going on outside, spring is going to come eventually and there’s no time to waste.

Take care of yourself and don’t feel bad. The world’s changing and you just don’t fit in my vision of it any more.


In other words, I’m just not comfortable buying peat-based mixes any more. So, in search of an alternative I’m giving coco coir a try. The coir came densely compressed in a brick wrapped in plastic. I broke it in half to fit it in the tub for soaking. It took up quite a bit of water. Wish I’d measured the volume difference before and after.

1 Soaking

Once it was thoroughly soaked I broke it up and fluffed it some. It nearly filled the container.

2 Fluffed

Just for the heck of it, I worked in some perlite I had laying around. The coir seemed kind of heavy and I thought the perlite might lighten it and improve drainage.

3 with Perlite

The final test was to sow some seeds. I picked out a few things to grow some microgreens and sowed them thickly on the coir. Step one, germination , was successful!

4 Seedlings

A month later I’ve got some nice lettuce…

5 Lettuce

…and some spinach. The seed coats stuck to the tips of a good number of the seed leaves. Any idea how to prevent this? I’m going to just have to pinch them off before harvesting.

7 Spinach

There are beets, too! Mostly golden but there’s obviously a red one in the mix. They suffer from the same persistent seed coat problem.

6 Beets

The biggest disappointment so far is the arugula. It’s small and chlorotic looking. I have fertilized it lightly but that doesn’t seem to have helped.

8 Arugula

I can’t blame the medium since the other greens are doing just fine. Besides, I can’t go back to peat. Not after all the things I said.

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2 thoughts on “Dear Peat, We’re Through

  1. I strongly agree with you about having concerns with peat, and am always surprised at how few gardeners who otherwise seem to have an environmental ethic do not even THINK about the environmental repercussions of mining peat from bogs! Thanks for sharing your results.
    I mixed coco coir with a bit of local compost this spring, and the seedlings seemed to do alright

    1. Everything seemed to do just fine except my peppers and tomatoes that stalled early. I’ll try mixing in some local organic compost next time and see if that makes a difference.

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