As I enter the tenth year of a home landscape project, I started thinking about some of the things that I had learned while doing it. Besides reconfirming that I am the worlds worst estimator of how long things will take, I have found a couple of things that have worked very well.
In that length of time I have planted and moved shrubs up to three times. Recently when digging up a Kaleidoscope abelia to continue it’s pilgrimage around the yard I noticed what looked like a weird growth on the roots. I touched the little knots on the roots and they had a weird jello like feel. That’s when I realized what it was. Whenever I have planted anything I always throw a handful of Soil Moist in the hole. Soil moist is a crosslinked polacrylamide, which for those of us who missed chemistry class that day, they are little crystals that absorbs and holds a tremendous amount of water.
The interesting thing was seeing that the roots had grown around the crystals. It was apparent that this was a a very efficient way to keep moisture available for the plants to use. With the clay soil we have, you need to be careful and not drown plants. The clay soil can hold too much water and cause root rot and other problems. On the flip side, clay can dry out to a point that it becomes a brick. By having the water within the polymer it will stays available to the plant without the problem of too much moisture.
When I said a “handful” I need to clarify that. It only takes a teaspoon for a 8 inch pot. When my wife first brought some home for us to try, she warned me to only use a little bit. Being your typical male of the species I am thinking if a little is good a lot must be better. So I throw a hand full in and proceed to plant. When done I start to water the plant thoroughly. Then like something out of a fifties horror movie the plant begins to rise out of the pot. It rises till it topples out onto the driveway. There in it’s place is a strange looking blob that has taken over the pot. The Soil Moist has grown to a jello like mass and taken possession of the container.
Seeing the Soil Moist entangled in the root ball reminded me of my initial mishap. I started to wonder just how much water the crystals would absorb. Grabbing my Mr. Wizard (don’t try this at home) lab coat and a glass jar I was off to find out. I filled the bottom of the jar with a thin layer of crystals and slowly began to add water from a measuring cup. Being the patient person I am, I was soon pouring in a whole cupful at a time. It was amazing to see how much water the crystals would hold and also fun to try and squeezed the clear mass.
In the interest of advancing science I fully documented (took some pictures) of the whole process which we are releasing to the world without patent or copy write protection in the pursuit of world peace and the advancement of mankind. The last sentence should create some interest google searches.