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Water-absorbing crystals in EB's.

mulege, Mexico

Has anyone added water-absorbing gels to their soiless mix for EB's?

Does anyone have any thoughts on the idea?


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I'm thinking it's not necessary because the EB soilbed stays adequately moist as long as you keep the water reservoir filled. Save your crystals for a NON self-watering container...IMHO.....


Crestview, FL

Katiebear: I added water absorbing mats to some of my hanging baskets; but, not my EBs as they don't need them. I have since started using perlite with my hanging baskets for better drainage.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

I added to many to everything year before last. I think everything I planted with them heaved out of the pots or ground. Clearly a few go a long way. I cant see them in an earth box tho, it should be moist in there all the time anyway.

Pembroke Pines, FL(Zone 10a)

If you follow Earthbox* instructions they say definetly not! The genuine EBs retain water providing you use a quality container mix w/o moisture control granules and keep the cover on it at all times. Never use anything that says "soil " or you will have root rot.

mulege, Mexico

Thank you all.

I have another question. Until I can get to the States and buy coir I am using shredded palm trees which are like thin straw. The water doesn't percolate up very well. I've thought of using an old nylon stocking with pea and perlite as a "wick" from the resevoir to up towards the roots.

Again, any thoughts?


Galien, MI

I'm making my own e-barrels, so I'm going to try the cornstarch type of crystals. They are much, much softer, and didn't heave the small grow bags I had with them in it. Since I'm making my own, I know I will need to experiment with how wet/dry they get - that's why I'm adding some of those crystals (quench). It's easier to add in a drainage wick later if I need it than it is to water more frequently. If you are using more of the straw like material, I'm guessing it won't wick quite as well. In that case, a small amount of stuff that does wick better, or some of the softer crystals, may be a good way to go. How well does that stuff drain or draw water? you may want to put a pile in a bucket, with 2 inches of water, and about 1 ft of the palm straw, and get an idea of how far up that water will travel.

I tested the clear crystals next to the cornstarch crystals. when filled with water, I can easily imagine those clear ones pushing stuff around. The softer ones didn't.

mulege, Mexico

Thanks for the suggestions.

The straw mixture drains quickly but I'm still experimenting on how well it wicks.

I've got a 55-gallon barrel ffilled with shredded seaweed that I am making into bokashi. I think some of that might hellp to make the mixture wick better.

I also think that an old nylon filled with coir would be a good wick. Or a few pieces of cotton cord.

Meanwhile I have a blueberry plant doing well in one of my HEB's and a tomato starting to bloom in the second one. I'm in the process of building about ten more.

The experiments continue.


Galien, MI

The cotton cord does wick great - I used it to make a vacation watering system, but in an HEB, they may not last long enough. It likes to break down quickly. That was why it was no recommended to use as a drainage wick for overwet HEB's or raised beds.

Good luck! keep us informed. :-)

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