This is the main constituent of our raised beds. It is ground coconut husks, remarkably similar to peat.
It takes a month or so to condition down to excellent orchid compost but has the advantage that it is available in quantity, immediately. In our early days, we had no alternative. And vanilla loves it.
Sadly, there is no local supplier and we get ours from Jembrana. A truck load costs just $30! Unfortunately, the truck costs $70 because its a long way.
So, we look at alternatives.
We can buy a machine to grind the husks for $3,000. However, we are not certain of getting the coconuts, and what do we do with the milk? So, we are discussing with a small local coconut business. We could give them the machine and in return they would guarantee to supply us with the cocopeat at a reduced price, perhaps $25 a truck. As we use ten trucks a month, we'd recover our investment in four months.
Alternatively, we can make our own compost. This has several advantages, for compost is a hive of different organisms, including several which actively feed on fusarium.
However, compost is obviously affected by what you use as the base material. To make sufficient quantity, we need to use rice straw and husk which is free. But fusarium loves it…So I am building four big bins. We'll fill up one for a month, then fill up the next one. After two months, we turn the first one over and start in the third bin. After four months, we'll see what sort of compost we have, whether the rice husk has decomposed sufficiently.
Fortunately, we have access to lots of bamboo. That will go through the chipper and create a counterweight to the rice. Bamboo contains a fungus that is the enemy of fusarium.
It's quite fun using biology to solve biological problems.
Chairman Royal Spice Gardens
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