Sprout Your Fall Seeds in Coconut Coir Fiber

Illustrations by Sarah Finestone

Gardener’s Notebook by Joshua Burman Thayer

When midsummer brings loads of tomatoes and zucchini into your weekly harvest bowl, it’s time to start planting for fall.

Back in the day, I used to sprout seeds in black garden soil, but I would often lose up to half my sprouts to dampening off (a horticultural condition caused by pathogens that kill or weaken seeds or seedlings before or after they germinate). In recent years, I have learned that if I sprout seeds in coconut coir fiber, I can increase viable sprouts by nearly 100%!

Why Coconut Fiber?

This organic medium is derived from the coconut palm industry. Naturally inert, it allows for good aeration and good moisture storage around the seeds, without bringing pathogen-laden soil life into contact with your delicate new sprouts.

Follow these easy steps:

  • Spread a layer of coconut coir fiber in your sprouting trays.
  • Spread your seeds broadly across the trays.
  • Mist with pure water daily until sprouts appear.
  • Add 1 teaspoon kelp meal to a 750ml spray bottle and mist the sprouts daily until secondary and tertiary leaves form.
  • Add a ½-inch layer of black soil on top of the coconut coir medium.
  • Transplant once the sprouts look sturdy enough to do well out in your garden.

Happy Gardening!

Joshua Burman Thayer