With spring already underway and various regions of our USA getting warmed up finally, the interest to get out and do some container gardening is encouraging gardeners to purchase gardening pots, containers, and various vegetable and flower starts to grow.
One of the things that is most important and a somewhat time consuming task to the gardener of the 21st century is properly watering the potted plants they have purchased. Various brands of potting soils tout the benefits of this ' special soil additive ' or that special 'water retention' ingredient but beware ! Not all potting soil mixes are really advisable to be using with your container plants because of proven scientific data that shows an ingredient used in some of those 'Water Retention Soils ' 'Polyacrylamide Hydrogels or other wise known as 'root watering crystals' are constructed of Acrylamide which is a lethal neurotoxin.
Acrylamide has been found to cause cancer in laboratory test * It can pass through the skin and also be inhaled as dust.
Years ago 'Cross-Linked Polymers' were the craze of most gardeners and landscapers. I used the polymers in various landscaping projects with the hopes of reducing water usage on lawns and my most interesting experience was installing too many polymers within a front lawn turf installation and once the polymer's hydrated, the lawn was like walking on a 300 sq, foot sponge ! So much for landscape use of polymers for me after that experience.
There are safer products that are available today that do not have the chemical dangers as the before mentioned Polyacrylamide Hydrogels that break down naturally in the soil after so many months and have no ill health effects on humans or pets which makes them safe for food production and around the home use.
Also by practicing safe 'Old Style' gardening practices such as compost use and mulching, today's busy gardener can have productive and enjoyable container gardens that will add good health and social benefits to their homes and communities.
Please check out this link to learn more about a product we use in our award winning projects that help our clients reduce and improve water use in their container plantings.
* Research notes derived from a great article by Linda Chalker-Scott, PH.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University. " The Myth of Polyacrylamide Hydrogels "