London (change)
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10/05/2012 at 12:09

I plan to use water retaing gel crystals in my hanging baskets this year. Could anyone tell me how many grams of crystals should I add to each basket? The baskets are 12" and 14" in diameter. Thank you.

10/05/2012 at 12:17

Hi Supernanny, I just put a very small amount, about 20g,  mixed in with the compost and perlite to help drainage and this seems to be enough, I did read the packet but it didnt advise about baskets so used my initiative............However the first time I tried it went a bit pete tong......put too much in and when it rained all this gelitinous gunge came pouring out of my tubs............oh well I lived to tell the tale......good luck xx

10/05/2012 at 12:55

The trick here is, first put your crystals in a bucket and add water until the gel won't absorb any more. Remember, it does take a few minutes for the crystals to expand. Then add a couple of handfuls to the compost your going to use to fill your baskets. This way, when it gets wet either from the rain or by watering, it won't over spill.

10/05/2012 at 14:18

Ahhh, didnt think of this.....why does it say to mix it with your compost then? guess I've been lucky then, could have had another catastrophe.........eeeeek!!!

10/05/2012 at 14:29

IMO they should change the instructions. I made the same mistake when I used these crystals for the first time also - what a ruddy mess. LOL

10/05/2012 at 14:47

hahahaha, how often do you water your plants that have this gel in them, I feel I may also be overwatering?

10/05/2012 at 15:14

There lies the million dollar question, it really does depend on how hot a day its has been. I could say every other day as I live in the north, but you may live in the south where its hotter. I would check your baskets/containers everyday and see how many days it takes for it to dry out. In general, if its cool 2-3 days between waterings and if its hot 1-2 days. Seriously hot, every day. And if its raining, put your feet up.

The trick is to touch the compost until you train your eyes to spot drying out - if it feels wet, don't water. If its dry, water. If its moist, give it a sip.

Hope this helps...

10/05/2012 at 16:17

I feel the weight of my baskets - if they are light they need watering but if they feel very heavy they probably don't.

Pam x

10/05/2012 at 17:10

@Marshmello - yes I also live in the North - Leeds. Thanks for your help, have been watering as you suggest so all good

10/05/2012 at 17:37

Hi Lucy3 and Marshmello! Thanks for some very good advice. I would have mixed it with the compost so that would have been a disaster!. Any particular make of crystals you would recommend?

10/05/2012 at 18:15

I add the dry gel with the compost, only a small amount. If you add it wet then it makes a mess and it is difficult to mix it - you end up with globs of the stuff instead of an even mix. I use miracle gro gel and it works well. Certainly expands and retains with all this rain!

10/05/2012 at 19:10

@lucy3 - then you should be ok.

@supernanny - I've only used miracle-Gro crystals, but I'm sure all brands do the same job.

@blairs - I've never had a problem with the method I use, just give it a good stir and a mix - its evenly distributed. I don't think its any more messier then any other gardening job.

Adding retentive crystals to compost - use which ever method suits you most, wet or dry.

11/05/2012 at 00:01

I've found little difference between makes of crysals, but like others before me, I have found it far better to soak crystals before adding to compost to prevent overspill. Just mix well, (a bit like the rubbing in stage of making pastry or crumble!). This is also a good time to mix in a granular, slow release plant food. Youv'e then got a good potting compost to last the whole season.

11/05/2012 at 10:25

Must admit that I have stopped using it altogether, I was not impressed with it.  I  preferred my method of lifting the basket slightly from underneath, heavy OK, not, water - as someone else has said.  If we get some twice a day watering weather we will all be delighted, at present it is more like never doing it at all, and anyway it is too dark for the flowers to come anyway.  Fed upness. 

11/05/2012 at 11:02

Lots of advice on here about the crystals. I think its a trial and error way for us all and to usewhatever way suits you best after trying a few.

Personally I would never wet them before adding to compost -  far too messy!! as for adding slow release fertiliser I also do this and it makes a great potting compost - done in a large batch can save lots of time for future potting up, just keep it well sealed so it doesnt dry out - Weather still dreary and dark in Leeds, we are all fed up  too...roll on the sunshine then we can all sit in our little havens of garden and enjoy it.......happy gardening everyone xxx

11/05/2012 at 12:00

Thanks again for all the great advice, much better than asking in garden centres where  it depends on who you ask as to whether you get the correct advice!

Looking forward to the weekend, supposed to be sunny in Oxfordshire so plan to spend most of it in my little garden. Happy weekend everyone!

11/05/2012 at 12:06

You're welcome

11/05/2012 at 20:28

Slugs like to rest in them during the day...suppose it is a good spot to try and catch them, but also a source of problems. For pots and baskets that dry out too quickly I think they are great. I did put spent compost with the gel in it into a border and the damn stuff has not degraded, kind of stuck with patches of wet gel in the border.

11/05/2012 at 22:35

I use old compost bags (tough, black and 'free' ) to line terracotta pots and hanging baskets to reduce water loss. Just remember to put a few tiny holes in it to allow for some drainage and prevent water logging when it rains.

13/05/2012 at 22:19

So much useful advice, many thanks to you all.

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