Has Any one used polymer type additives to hold moisture?

Natick, MA

Has Any one used polymer type additives to hold moisture in the soil (in or outside of containers?) and release when drying out, so you can go longer.

If so, what brand(s) do/did you use and what is your experience?

Hobart, IN

I have tried them in the past but they really didn't make any difference. I had thought that perhaps I wasn't using them correctly and gave up on them. I did hear a podcast a couple of weeks ago with a question about using the polymer from clean disposable diapers. The program host said that polymers in potting soil haven't performed as well as first visualized. You could check out youbetyourgarden.com to get more info.

Natick, MA

Thank you, Cindy! A garden friend here has used them successfully (or at least one) and mentioned buying a type (now) on ebay. I ordered it, but not sure it swells that much (I tested a few granules). My friend then mentioned she hast not used this particular brand yet. So I'm waiting to hear what brand she's used in the past, and thought I'd throw it out for discussion.

I saw a video re: the gel granules in diapers and how someone uses them (once watered down and "puffed up' with planting soil, and was intrigued. Just didnt know if I wanted to go buy diapers :) LOL

Never heard of youbetyourgarden.com, so thanks for the link!

Hobart, IN

Oops! That's a .org website. Sorry for the misinformation.
When I tried them, I soaked them first and mixed them in with the potting soil. I think that the plant roots would have to penetrate the polymer to be of a benefit. Maybe in a non-peat based potting soil they might work better since peat is always hard to rewet when it dries. I personally would hesitate incorporating them into the ground.

Canton, MI

Valal: This is a repeat of the post I wrote a few minutes ago, that disappeared because I had forgotten to log in.

Soil Moist granules are available from Amazon.com, $19.95 for 3 lbs. Here is the label:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3 lb. Soil Moist Granules
1-2 mm particle size
Recommended mixing ratio is:
1.5 tsp (1/4 oz.) per gallon or 1.2 oz. per cubic foot
Note: Soil Moist must be incorporated into the soil at the root level of the plant. Do not top dress or place on the surface.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I used a pinch mixed with the potting mix at the bottom of each small transplant pot for tomatoes and eggplants. In the garden, I spread the granules on the soil and then turned them under; you can also add them to the garden soil when you transplant your vegetables.

So far, I have used 4.5 lbs of granules, in pots and in the garden. My raised beds total about 250 sq.ft. The soil is good, but underneath there is clay.

I did not bother to measure the granules accurately, and probably used more than the label recommends, without any adverse effect. They worked great for snow peas and for eggplants, which need a lot of water.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Natick, MA

VERY Helpful...thank you! I googled soil additives to retain moisture and this brand popped up from several retail/on line providers. It's good to know someone's personal experience, tho.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

The only thing better than compost for amending soil and improving its drainage/water retention is even more compost.

That doesn't work so well in small pots.

Maybe drippers and a timer to water more frequently?

Natick, MA

Hi Rick, am looking for a way to keep soil moist longer between waterings in this post, not necessarily amending soil. I am not always at the garden during the week as I'm in other location for work, thus my questions. Appreciate all input!

I am a fairly new gardener with huge project started last year...but the logistics of the space and ability to bring compost up a level for so much garden is not viable. I started a compost pile last year, but am looking for ways to improve soil over time/mulch, keep plants moist longer between waterings (thus the question on these types of products). There is no way I can get loam or compost delivered up a rock wall or around the house where there is no passage. Age and arthritis do not leave hauling many bags of compost, etc. up stairs.

I did order some Soil Moist and am awaiting it's arrival. It will be interesting to experiment with.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I understand the issue of not being able to haul as much compost as the plants and soil would like.

If you can get mulch to them, even a layer of leaves, that will keep water from evaporating from the soil as quickly. It even cools the soil in sunny locations.

I just never tried polymer "crystals" so I don't know about them.

>> I am not always at the garden during the week as I'm in other location for work

It sounds like a simple dripline irrigation system on a timer could be helpful, but there is some up-front cost for a timer, filter and tubing.

Maybe, if the garden is high enough above your faucet, you might not need a pressure regulator. If there is a 30-foot rise there will be a 13 PSI pressure drop. (0.43 PSI pressure-drop per foot of fresh water height.)

Say you have city water with 40 PSI at the spigot. The pressure would be only 27 PSI at the top of the rise, and that's an OK pressure for most irrigation fittings.

Natick, MA

I can put that on my "wish list" :)

Bought a leaf shredder last fall, Rick, and did shred leaves for a good portion of my garden beds in the back (new project last year - dug up lawn and made garden beds)

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

A few years of mulching with leaves and/or composting leaves will make your soil hold more water, but also more air.

Irrigation widgets can be fairly cheap. If you pay for water, you might even save money after a few years of using it. I usually buy from these guys:

http://www.dripworks.com/category/mainline-and-emitter-drip-irrigation-tubing
http://www.dripworks.com/category/half-inch-emitter-tubing

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