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Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

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Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  JeanneRamick on 3/16/2012, 2:04 am

Has anyone ever used polyacrylamide crystals their SFG? (sometimes called Watersorb)

Sold my house and moved into a Condo, so my SFG needs to be moved to a cement patio this year. Since I have to move it, I'm going to elevate it to ease the stress on these old joints.

The patio faces almost directly South (a tiny bit West, too) and gets a lot of sunlight each day. Work keeps me away from about 7am - 6pm weekdays so I have concerns about the heat drying out an elevated SFG.

While mucking about on the internet, I found a blog post about someone in Canada using those
polyacrylamide crystals for non-food plants in her SFG. She had concerns about plants absorbing by-products as the crystals break down over time (as they're supposed to) However, I read on another site that these crystals break down into naturally occurring substances.

Has anyone ever utilized a product like this and what was the experience like? Does anyone else have thoughts on this topic?

Jeanne


Last edited by JeanneRamick on 3/16/2012, 2:05 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)
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Re: Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  shannon1 on 3/16/2012, 2:19 am

Jeanne,

With the magical Mel's Mix you realy don't need anything else to retain water the peat and vermiculite does the trick. I live in hot, hot, florida. Did I say it was hot here? Compaired to a box I use organic potting soil in I have to water the MM much less. As Mel often points out SFG needs only "20% of the water as a traditonal row garden" I think that only applies when you use Mel's Mix. Have you read the ANSFG book yet?
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Re: Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  JeanneRamick on 3/16/2012, 3:31 am

@shannon1 wrote:With the magical Mel's Mix you realy don't need anything else to retain water the peat and vermiculite does the trick. I live in hot, hot, florida. Did I say it was hot here? Compaired to a box I use organic potting soil in I have to water the MM much less. As Mel often points out SFG needs only "20% of the water as a traditonal row garden" I think that only applies when you use Mel's Mix. Have you read the ANSFG book yet?

Thanks for the welcome, Shannon and thanks for the input on your HOT location. (Got the hot part loud and clear Smile )

Yep, I do have the ANSFG book and have had my 4x4 SFG (as well as some individual boxes for tomatoes) with Mel's Mix for 3 years now.

I agree that my SFG with MM needs far less water than an ordinary row garden would. However, my concern is that instead of being on the ground out in the open and getting partial shade ... the new placement of my SFG will be UP off the ground (causing potential extra windage, it will now have full-sun almost all day and be almost up against the building with the reflected heat. I think all three of those factors will increase how quickly the drying will occur.

Just have memories from years ago when I tried "container gardening" of tomatoes on an apartment patio. Those white buckets just about roasted from all-day full sun and they would need water almost every day when I got home from work. The combination of soaking the soil after work then drying out during the day caused blossom-end for the poor tomato plants. It was pretty much a nightmare ... one that I don't want to repeat after having 3 years of successful SFG!

Jeanne
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Re: Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  camprn on 3/16/2012, 6:10 am

Shredded bark mulch would greatly reduce the evaporation of moisture from the Mel's mix in the garden bed. I like the shredded bark, because it is readily absorbent, isn't likely to shed as much water and I can pull it away from the growing medium when I need to. It is also not terribly expensive, will eventually decompose without adding any weed seed and doesn't draw much nitrogen out of the mix.

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Re: Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  walshevak on 3/16/2012, 9:04 am

This is one time when I would actually encourage a deeper framework, an inch or two more MM and space for mulch. And possibly a light shade cloth.

I have only used the crystals in flower pots, but it did seem to help in them. But watch out, when fully soaked, they expand push the soil out of the pot.

Kay

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Re: Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  shannon1 on 3/17/2012, 3:36 am

@JeanneRamick wrote:
I agree that my SFG with MM needs far less water than an ordinary row garden would. However, my concern is that instead of being on the ground out in the open and getting partial shade ... the new placement of my SFG will be UP off the ground (causing potential extra windage, it will now have full-sun almost all day and be almost up against the building with the reflected heat. I think all three of those factors will increase how quickly the drying will occur.

Jeanne
I see where you'er coming from my boxes are table tops in full sun. If you want to see some of my garden pics click this link http://www.flickr.com/photos/_sfgphotoside/sets/72157629601436557/ they realy do just fine, but we do have the humid air down here.
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Re: Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  JeanneRamick on 3/17/2012, 10:33 am

Very nice pictures, Shanon. The one of your garden in a dew drop looks professional enough to be made into postcards or get a page in a gardening calendar!

Still haven't decided about using the crystals.
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Re: Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  camprn on 3/17/2012, 4:19 pm

I was thinking of putting a layer of new disposable diapers in the bottom of some of my flower containers to help with moisture retention. I will let you know how that works out... affraid

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Re: Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  JeanneRamick on 3/17/2012, 5:12 pm

@camprn wrote:I was thinking of putting a layer of new disposable diapers in the bottom of some of my flower containers to help with moisture retention. I will let you know how that works out... affraid

Now that's an interesting idea camp rn ... would you be wetting the diapers first, so you know exactly how much expansion to expect? Just thinking of Sharon saying some of her plants were heaved out when the crystals expanded.

Since I have to move my SFG this year, I'll have the frame empty again ... maybe a layer of disposable diapers in the bottom. before putting the MM back in would be a good idea.
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Re: Using polyacrylamide crystals in SFG?

Post  shannon1 on 3/18/2012, 3:09 am

@JeanneRamick wrote:Very nice pictures, Shanon. The one of your garden in a dew drop looks professional enough to be made into postcards or get a page in a gardening calendar!

Still haven't decided about using the crystals.
thank you Jeanne my brother's only comment was he would like it more if it were more tear drop shaped LOL He's a painter and a harsh critic.
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