I've recently been introduced to a new product from Miracle Gro, called the Expand ‘n Gro™ concentrated planting mix. Expand ‘n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix is different from basic potting and garden soils. Because it’s a unique blend of Miracle‐Gro plant food and coconut coir fiber, a compact, lightweight, easy‐to‐carry and easy‐to‐store bag of Expand ‘n Gro can do everything a big, heavy bag of soil can do, only better.
This concentrated planting mix expands up to 3 times when mixed with water, feeds plants for up to 6 months, makes native soil more workable and retains up to 50% more moisture than basic potting soil.
Coir is a lightweight, all‐natural material derived from coconut husk. Coir consists of 2 components: fiber (both long and short) and pith. Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, and Mexico are the top producing countries of coir. Harvesting coconuts begins with de‐husking. The copra (flesh) and milk of the coconuts are used as food, but the husk itself is also useful. First, long fibers are removed. These will be used in the manufacture of ropes, doormats, mattresses, automobile car seats, and garden pots. The remaining short fibers and the pith, which makes up about 70% of the weight of the husk, are by‐products of the fiber industry. Previously, these materials were disposed of, but now they are compressed and sold around the world as soil amendments.
Most native soil, whether sandy, hard clay, or somewhere in between, is not ideal for plants. Improving and then maintaining the condition of native soil can be a daunting task, and many soil amendments last only one year. Bags of traditional garden soil and amendments are messy, heavy, and difficult to transport and store. Lightweight, concentrated Expand ‘n Gro is easy to use, and helps ensure plants get the right amount of moisture and air they need to thrive. The honeycomb shaped, sponge‐like cell structure of compressed coir pith re‐expands when water is added. This permanent re‐expansion of coir offers several benefits for plant growth, including improved moisture control and bulk density. And because coir contains a great deal of lignin, a slowly decomposing organic polymer, Expand ‘n Gro continues to benefit native soil for multiple years after it is first added.
In pots or in‐ground, the absorbent coir fibers help ensure that water is used efficiently. Expand ‘n Gro retains up to 50% more moisture than basic potting soils and then releases water as plants need it, to help prevent over or under watering. Since moisture and nutrients must be able to reach plant roots, proper air space and circulation in soil is critical for plant health. Tilling this planting mix into native soil can reduce the soil’s bulk density – making it up to 40% lighter, and creating up to 90% more air space. The result is more workable native soil with better water holding ability, moisture distribution, and drainage, all of which ultimately creates an improved rooting environment for plants.