Today, my Water-Keep(www.water-keep.com) super-absorbent polyacrylamide water crystals arrived! These things are pretty cool, each crystal capable of absorbing over 400 times its weight in water. I don't really know how they work! What I do know, however, is that there is a slight chance they could break down into their monomer-acrylamide building blocks. Nobody knows for sure whether or not polyacrylamide breaks down into monomer-acrylamide when it's in the soil, hit by the sun, or cooked at high temperatures. Regardless, monomer-acrylamide is a neurotoxin and possible carcinogen. There is lots of literature that says no harmful breakdown occurs, which is why this stuff is sold commercially and applied to millions of acres of farmland across the world. However, there is a small amount of literature that suggests it COULD break down and be harmful, so I'm going to be safe and only use it in my flower pots.
This evening, I placed a half a teaspoon of this stuff in a jar and added some water. I expected that like magic, my jar would be full of jelly just like this:
Unfortunately, it didn't occur quite as quickly as I had hoped. Still, at the end of the hour (as the info sheet does say) the crystals had absorbed water to their full capacity and filled a whole pint! That's big for half a teaspoon! And each jelly crystal is quite remarkable, looking just like they do in this picture (but without the dazzle lighting).
I mixed them up in some potting soil and planted my flowers: Marigolds, Lavendar, Cosmos, and Poppies. I didn't have enough jiffy pots, so I planted some in quart buckets. Also, I wanted to plant all the poppies, which are notoriously bad at transfer so the majority of the jiffy pots were devoted to them. Jiffy pots are biodegradable pots made from peat moss. They are great for starting seeds, which can then be planted pot and all into the garden. The pot will decompose on its own over time.
Here are the results of my labor over the past couple days: