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An organic gardener / farmer in our area introduced me to "Water Crystals". [watercrystals.com]
Water Crystals™ absorb and store water.
Water Crystals are super absorbent polymers in the form of white granules. They sometimes are referred to as hydro gels, polymer crystals, or water gels.
Use Water Crystals in your flower and vegetable gardens, in crop fields, in containers for houseplants and patio plants. They nourish shrubs, trees, and lawns as they reduce watering requirements.
They are a boost for water conservation and plant health, helping to nurture plants by preventing stress both in drought and in times of excessive moisture.
I have EXTREMELY sandy soil -- that I've already spent a gazillion dollars [it seems] to amend it. I have to water almost EVERY day because the soil just doesn't seem to hold any water. I plan on tilling some crystals, along with some 'rock dust' [Azomite] in with my fall garden.
Just wondering if anyone else is using the crystals...??...
Hi Josephine -- since you're in Arlington maybe you're familiar with this farm on Bowen Rd -- Gnismer Farms. That's where I got my Azomite and water crystals. He also sells organic fish emulsion fertilizer for the locals and then the big farm equipment for the BIG farmers.
Out where I live in Pilot Point there are farmers that grow the turf grass.. sod for the landscapers. They use the water crystals is what I was told.
Yes, I know where the farm is but am not familiar with him, I have never bought anything there.
I just use my own compost and tree mulch, and it does the job.
Of course right now things do dry out much faster because of the heat.
OK -- heard back already... here are his comments:
There are two different gels, the ones in Daves garden is Polyacrylamide Hydrogels, sodium based that he tested and the other is starch based Gels. The products listed in his web site are sodium based and do not after so many cycles break down to a usable product by the plants. The gels that you have will break down after 250 to 500 cycles and are starch based much like cardboard and paper.
I remember a DG thread a few years ago about organic tapioca based water absorbers. However they were discontinued. I've searched thru the OMRI database and can't find any other makers. Perhaps he had a lot of it stocked, or I'm just not looking in the right places.
I have sandy/loam and a firm believer in trace minerals. But only after you've addressed the primary and secondary nutrients first. Sandy soils generally lack all of the above, compost is not enough to cover the basic elements. Primary and secondary nutrients are fairly cheap amendments (compared to water crystals and Azomite) Once they are addressed drought tolerance increases. Just something to think about.
I'm happy to hear he stocks Azomite, I'm having a hard time finding it locally. Do you happen to know if he sells 50lb bags?
Hi lulu -- he sells the 44lb bags of Azomite -- for $35... but unless you're planning a trip to Arlington then I'd keep trying to find a local source. Amazon sells it too but the shipping costs make it about $90. On the Azomite website they have a list of TX distributors -- I see that there is one Garland & Rowlett... and in Paris.
I'm not sure about the brand on the 'water crystals' -- it's a 55lb bag for $250. It is expensive but the way I'm justifying the cost is that it lasts so long -- 10yrs -- and a little goes a long way. Once I till it into my big garden I don't plan on applying it again... I don't plan on TILLING again either... trying to get away from that after watching the video "Back to Eden". We also are planting more trees on our 10acres... and plan on putting some crystals into each hole we dig. We don't have irrigation to our entire 10acres and some of the trees we planted in Spring 2011 didn't make it through the incredible heat we've been getting.
RE: Primary and secondary nutrients are fairly cheap amendments -- what do you consider these to be ?? Green sand, lava sand -- dried mollasses -- composted cow manure... compost -- I can't tell you how much I've put or the $$ spent putting this on my garden soil. We just have VERY sandy, rocky soil -- not so much of a red sandy loam... almost sandy beige/tan.
ANYWAY... this is my latest idea/ approach... it's all about the 'journey' when you garden in Texas... right?
I tried the water crystals, not sure which brand, out at my small mailbox bed and saw no results at all.
Jannz-We have lots of pecan growers around me and they put 5 gallon buckets, drilled with a small hole & filled with water, at the base of the tree. I haven't seen any losses from last year's drought on any of the trees that had those.
Also, try planting your trees in the Fall. That way the roots have plenty of time to grow before the heat sets in.
Hi Sweet... yea... we're planning on tree planting in Oct this year. Some "Loblolly Pines" Of all the trees that we planted -- magnolia, live oak, red oak... these survived the heat with minimal watering.
We are actually very heavily wooded in our little area but we just want to sort of 'give back' so that's why we're planting more trees.
Jannz, thank you so much! I do have family in Arlington, so it's not a big deal to pick up the Azomite. I do have a local distributor, but they are a PIA to purchase from. I'm happy you could direct me to another source!
I've watched Back to Eden as well. Our county dump will no longer accept tree trimmings, so we lucked out and asked the county trimmers to dump their mulch here. If you haven't heard out it, you might want to look into Hugelkulture as well.
Post Oaks are another tree to consider, they are extremely efficient, native and grow well on the lean/sandy Texas soils.
Regarding soil nutrients; your primary nutrients are N-P-K, and secondary are, calcium (Ca), sulphur (S), magnesium (Mg).
Micro nutrients (trace mineral) are your amendments like Azomite, green sand, lava sand and rock, or granite dusts. Many of these simply can't be taken up by the plant without primary and secondary nutrients.
Sandy soils typically leach minerals quickly, BUT, many of the elements are used together, must be used together to form bonds that are immoveable from the soil.
The only way to know exactly what your has or needs is to do a soil test. They can range from 20.00 to 100.00 depending on your goals. If your just doing flower beds, a low end cheap test for N-P-K, Ca-S-Mg will give you a great base line. It will take out a lot of guess work and cheaper in the long run.
My neighbor also gardens -- she's a master gardener -- had her soil tested. Lacks 'Nitrogen'... which I suspect is because we use compost so heavily. I put on several bags of 'blood meal' early in the spring to help with the nitrogen.
What I really need for my garden are some 'pollinators' and a 'fence'. I need MORE bees and less squirrels, armadillos, and wild boar. I will be adding chickens once I get that fence designed and built.
RE: Azomite -- Yes... go see Lynn at the Gsnizer farm. He and his wife are the friendliest / nicest people and Lynn is incredibly knowledgeable. I think he was a botanist or ??? ...or something scientific oriented. ANYWAY... just really helpful with lots of suggestions. He always tells me to call before I come out to make sure he's there at the farm and I've learned to ask him to hold some product back for me. He sells a lot.