A reliable supply of good quality water is essential for successful crop production. It is advised to have your water source analysed for chemical, physical and biological properties prior to use to assess the suitability and or special management conditions. Surface water supplies should be disinfected prior to use and it is advised to seek specialist advice to optimise performance of the production system.
As for any crop production careful hygiene should be practiced to minimise the risk of disease infection and potential loss in yield and quality.
The recommended crop layout will depend upon the crop to be grown, the average plant density required to suit the production system, irrigation system and the environmental conditions.
The Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags can be laid out on a flat surface or with a maximum advised slope of 55 mm in 1100 mm or 1:20. In either case, any drainage water generated should not be allowed to enter any of the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags, with drainage promptly removed from the area and disposed of in an appropriate manner. The Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags must not come into contact with the soil or any other material with disease potential.
Preparation of Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags
After the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags have been laid out in a suitable arrangement, drainage and hygiene have been addressed, the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags can be prepared for crop production.
Cut or preferably burn holes in the top plastic wrapping where plants are to be planted. Minimise the size of planting holes as this will reduce evaporation rate from the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags and allow several plantings in the vicinity of previous plantings. Planting holes can be offset (diagonally opposed) or aligned to suit individual crops.
The amount of planting holes will vary depending on the crop but as a guide, 4 tomatoes for inexperienced growers and up to 5 tomatoes for experienced growers can be planted per Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bag. A typical spacing of 150 or 125 mm from the end of the bags and 270 or 210 mm between the centre plants is used for 4 to 5 tomato plants per Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bag respectively.
Planting the Crop
After planting holes have been made in the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags, place a dripper (minimum of 1 dripper per plant) in the centre of the planting hole. Saturate the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bag with a suitable nutrient solution containing a non ionic wetting at manufacturers recommended rates to improve lateral movement of the solution.
As a guide, you may need to add 15 to 20 L of nutrient solution to saturate the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags.
Allow the Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) to absorb the solution for 24 to 48 hours, then place horizontal drainage slits 10 to 15 mm from the base and 25 to 40 mm in length midway between the planting holes/drippers. A single drainage hole between the plants positioned diagonally along the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags will help facilitate uniform blending and drainage of nutrient solution from the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags. By example, for 4 tomato plants per Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bag, a minimum of 5 drainage slits are advised with 2 and 3 drainage slits per opposing side to form diagonally opposed slits.
Continue to irrigate the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags with nutrient solution to generate run off and measure the pH and EC of resultant run off. Plant the crops once the EC of the run off is at the required level and manage the crop according to requirements.
Other than specific management and control of the rootzone environment with the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags, crop management is the same for other production systems growing the same crop, ie crop protection, pruning, staking, harvesting, environmental requirements etc.
Liquid feed the plants regularly using a suitable nutrient solution to suit the crop, phase of growth, environmental conditions, crop performance, fruit load, varietal requirements etc.
In general, run off from the bags should be measured for pH and EC and recorded daily and management altered to optimise crop potential.
Aim to consistently generate a minimum of 15 to 20 % run off from the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags.
Maintain the nutrient solution volume within the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags to provide optimal buffer and regulation of pH, EC and nutrient composition within the rootzone.
Always use liquid feed but vary the feed strength, frequency of irrigation and volume used to suit the plant and environmental conditions. In hot weather, high light conditions, weak or highly generative growth use a lower conductivity and feed more frequently whereas with low light, cool weather, soft growth use a higher conductivity and feed less often.
The only modification to standard nutrient formulations for Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) is to increase calcium by 10 to 20 % in the initial 4 weeks from commencement of crops. In all cases, run off solution and leaf analysis should be conducted on a regular basis to determine optimal nutritional management of the plants and the assistance of a qualified consultant to optimise productivity.
Re-using Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags
Provided the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags have been free of disease they can be reused several times for short term hardy crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plant and capsicum. For crops highly susceptible to aerial disease such as Fusarium sp. it is preferred to discard the Galuku Cocopeat (Galuku Coir) Grow Bags or plant out to a non susceptible crop.