The Dude Grows Show

Coco-based living soil

What up DGC,

Planning out my next grow and wondering if anyone has done a living/super soil with coco. I’m thinking about doing a 1 part coco(maybe mixed with peat), 1 part compost, one part perlite. I’ve heard that coco holds its form and takes longer to break down than peat, which is one reason I’m looking into this mix. Currently growing in fox farms coco loco (which is not pure coco coir, but a mix of aged forest products and coco), top dressed with my super compost (fruit, veggie, garden scraps plus castings and dry amendments). I’m very happy with the results and thinking of either mixing my own ‘coco loco’ or just buying more coco loco and top dressing. Planning to reuse my soil from this run (7 x 5gal), and supplement with additional FF or my own super coco mix to fill 4 25 gal smart pots. Wondering if anyone has done anything like this or has any thoughts they would like to share.

pic 1 shows my dry amendments

pc 2 shows my compost analysis, with most dry amendments already added at least a month before (excluding phos rock and kelp meal)

pic 3 is orange cookies bag seed about 4.5  weeks into bloom


12 responses to “Coco-based living soil”

  1. Chad.Westport Avatar

    I’ve so far resisted setting up a living soil type environment in coco because with coco, I do far more drain to waste (watering habit) than when I use soil. The run-off from coco is extremely insightful to nutrient levels and root zone Ph. Based on the run-off, you know to add or subtract from your next feeding, using natural amendments would be a little different because much of it might not be bio-available at the time.

    The fear with too much run-off in the coco, would be washing away your beneficials. In the living soil type of systems, it is the beneficial microbes that make the magic happen and get the nutrients in a plant available form. Your plant sends sugars down to the roots and excretes them out as exudates, which feed the microbes. Microbes eat and poop and the plant says, hey thanks for the nutrients and minerals. Its a nice cycle and while it can work in coco, it is more effective in soil due to the complex make up of the soil environment.

    But it is kind of funny that the organic living soil method works best in a medium that is generally non-renewable (peat) while coco, is a completely regenerative resource. I’m sure someone will master the living coco, but I have not seen it yet on a meaningful scale.

    1. TerpDaddy Avatar

      Thanks chad w for your input again, i think u were the first comment on all 3 of my posts.

      That is another reason why I wanted to avoid using straight peat, the fact that it is a non renewable resource and coco being a very regenerative resource. I’m sure it had to travel a great distance to make it to my garden tho so not sure what is worse.

      I don’t have a comparison of my grow with coco loco vs a completely peat based soil since ive never run the same strains, so I can’t really claim any advantage; but I did like the balance of the soil in terms of aeration and water retention. I also don’t know how much coco vs peT is in the cocoloco, so again I can’t really take anything learnings from this and apply to a new recipe. The number one ingredient is aged forest products so it must be less than 50% of the ‘soil’ component.

      In terms of soil compaction that soup mentioned, I was looking at some coco brands that have long fiber coco and thinking that may help combat the compaction of the soil over time. Not sure if that will actually help all that much.

      1. Chad.Westport Avatar

        I personally do prefer the coco that has a bit more of the fiber content to it. I feel this does add a better soil structure for the reasons you mention. Always happy to assist the DGC my friend. Soup certainly has some wonderful information to add too. A fun part of the living soil avenue is that it has so many potential avenues for nutrition and amendments based upon your plants needs.


      I agree coco is just not choice for a living mix, because coco has to be watered fully often, or you will run into Hella problems. Unless you have like maybe a 20+ gal pot or larger, I really wouldn’t waste my time. But nothing wrong with throwing organic input like worm castings and guano in coco, it really gives a boost. Roots organic has a nice soilless mix with organic inputs already in it.

  2. SOUP Avatar

    You can definitely make it work, but working with coco creates some complications.

    Coco reacts and stores calcium differently than peat, so generally you’ll need to amend your mix with more calcium to make up for this.

    Coco also tends to gobble up potassium making it unavailable to your plants. This means you need to supplement with more potassium too.

    Build a soil actually sells a mineral kit designed for coco. It’s similar to the mineral kit for peat except it has Sul-Po-Mag added to help address the calcium and potassium issues.


    The other big issue I have with using coco in living soil is the longevity. Coco seems to compact much faster in a living soil environment, which means after a few runs it starts to break down and the mix loses its texture. You can add more coco to fluff it up, but this kinda isn’t ideal if you are doing a long term no till type setup.

    So yeah, you can use coco in a living soil system, just realize you have to make some adjustments to compensate for the differences.

    1. Gordie Lachance Avatar
      Gordie Lachance

      💯 again SOUP, I was just about to ask you about this coco question myself because Ive had issues with dry pockets forming is cloth pots with the peat mixes. It’s due to poor watering practices that I just couldn’t seem to get under control in my environment. Anyhow none of this has been an issue at all since I got on the Spartan style sip containers, constant moisture in them all the time. Takes the guess work out of watering. Hands down the healthiest plants I’ve had yet in the garden. They’re only in 4th week of flower but ya I’m stoked🤙🏻🤙🏻 Next batch of soil is going to be your most recent recipe so I’ll let you know how it goes but ya it’s looking up. Thx for all that you do for the community SOUP , the seeds article is on point as well!

    2. TerpDaddy Avatar

      I think the dude said he uses a combination of peat and coco, like 25% coco. Not sure if that’s 25% of the whole ‘battery’, or if thats 25% coco and 75% peat as the soil component of the battery.

      My goal is to do a no till in the 25gals for several runs so I want to build a soil that will maintain its structure for a couple years. Any recommendations for ingredients to help maintain soil structure and reduce compaction ?

      I may start with that lower end ratio.

      1/3 soil mix (75% peat, 25% coco)
      1/3 compost (homemade with dry amendments, some homemade biochar)
      1/3 perlite

      I actually have some langbeinite from dte which is 22% K, 11% mg, 22% sulphur; so that may help with the binding of minerals to the coco. My compost is also quite high in calcium and potassium. analysis actually says excessive amounts of K, and I have more seabird guano laying around with 20% Ca.

      I’ve got access to a nice section of years of composted oak leaves which is actually what my strawberry and blueberry bed is filled with( Soil analysis in pic 2). Would that be helpful to add for soil longevity?

      I’ve still got a few weeks to decide so I’ll continue my research. thanks everyone for the input.

  3. 32 Finish Avatar
    32 Finish

    Great read. Thanks to OP, Soup, and all who answered in this thread. . .

    I am particularly interested in this because I’m just now getting into organics .. I’m currently in early veg in a 4×4 with a multi-strain grow for my .. ~3 grow or so. (Had a few more BUT we’ll call it 3rd actual* grow — Dolato x2, pineapple chunk, candyland x2, sherbet Dab.. n a stubborn blue dream’matic auto, flowering while they’re all popping, cuz why not)

    Anyway, not to de-rail this post … But this was very useful to read, as Im using a similar system, in that I’m using a mix of coco, soil, and organic amendments.. kinda my own blend… had wondered about going full living soil, in coco.

    Thx again for the great info. Looking forward to following along here.


    Thanks again

    1. TerpDaddy Avatar

      Hey 32 Finish.

      What’s ratios are you using now and how is it working out? Do you have any direct comparisons of same strain in different soil types/ ratios of coco ? I

    2. SOUP Avatar

      Check out the coco based living soil recipe I posted below.

      Lots more info about living soil growing can be found here:

  4. SOUP Avatar

    Heres the recipe build a soil adapted for a coco if anyone wants to try it. You can make this from scratch or you can order the nutrient and mineral kits from

    Build a soil/ coots mix COCO VERSION

    Base mix:

    1 part coco
    1 part compost/castings
    1 part aeration (pumice, ricehulls, perlite etc…)


    Per cubic foot of base mix add:
    1/2 cup neem seed meal
    1/2 cup crab meal or crustacean meal
    1/2 cup Kelp


    Per cubic foot of base mix add:
    1 cup sul-po-mag (aka langbenite)
    1 cup Gypsum
    2 cups Basalt rock dust

    (BTW, this is the same as the Build a soil recipe for peat, except the peat recipe uses oyster shell flour instead langbenite.)

    1. TerpDaddy Avatar

      Thank you soup for all the info. Great reads. This is what I was thinking of doing, probably mixing peat with the coco to make up the soil component of the mix. Has anyone tried this?

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