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Water-retaining gels

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:53 am
by LisaW
I noticed that using water-retaining crystals/gel was suggested twice in the July edition of the KG magazine.

However, the water-retaining moisture control (Miracle-Gro) crystals I have say on the pack "for use with ornamentals only".

I didn't see this until AFTER I'd put some in with tomatoes.

I can't get a straight answer about this from Miracle-Gro (via their website): they just say "we suggest you don't..."

Is this going to make the tomatoes actually poisonous, or not good to eat? Or will it actually be fine - the stuff is just not cleared for food use?

Re: Water-retaining gels

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:43 pm
by tigerburnie
Does it give you a list of ingredients on the packet, never used them so I can't offer any advice

Re: Water-retaining gels

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:29 pm
by Geoff
I've never used them either. Reading about them and similar products they all seem to talk about growing ornamentals in containers but don't mention edibles either for or against, though I did find one agricultural product for adding to soil. There are products with and without fertiliser added (Miracle-Gro do both) but usually you use the same sort of feed for containers of annuals as you do for tomatoes so that shouldn't be an issue. I can't find any mention of toxicity beyond wash hands after use and how to wash them out of your eyes. A similar compound was withdrawn from use in tampons some years ago as it was thought to be related to toxic shock problems.
I would let your tomatoes carry on growing and eat them without fear, I think no obvious bad news is good news.

Re: Water-retaining gels

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 4:53 pm
by Diane
I've always used the gel in the pot grown tomatoes and courgettes - and I'm still here.

Re: Water-retaining gels

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 8:43 pm
by Westi
That gel is in babies nappies & folk use them without harm to their infant & as a cheaper alternative for lining hanging baskets but I'd go for the direct gels not nappies as they apparently take decades to decompose with the wadding around them, but at least it must offer reassurance that the gel beads won't harm!

Re: Water-retaining gels

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:37 pm
by LisaW
Thanks for the replies :)

There is no list of ingredients on the packaging, unfortunately.

The plants look really healthy, and it seemed a shame not to eat the fruit. I think that if it were really harmful the warning would be larger and very explicit, so I'll leave them as they are and see what happens :D

Re: Water-retaining gels

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 7:59 pm
by Primrose
Lisa, I've used these crystals in patio containers for growing tumbling tomatoes, and also in the pots in which I grow my chillies & peppers for several years and am unaware of any potential harm. One year our water utility company issued free packets of them to customers as a water reduction measure. I don't recall seeing any warnings on the packets that they were only to be used for growing ornamental o,ants rather than vegetables.

Knowing food safety regulations I would have thought there would be a warning on the packet if they should not be used for food production. I comparatively recently emptied the current container of them I was using when I potted up my veggies into their final summer containers so unfortunately no longer have the packaging to check the ingredients.

If you are really concerned, perhaps the food safety experts at your council's trading standards office might have some advice for you if you want further clarification, in which case do please come back on here and post the outcome as their response would be of interest to the rest of us.

Re: Water-retaining gels

Posted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:24 pm
by LisaW

The company sent me a safety data sheet for the product.

As far as I can see it is not hazardous in it's pure form, so unless it gets changed somehow in the process of going through the plant and then into the human it seems to be safe.

The product/ingredient name is 2-Propenoic acid, homopolymer, posassium salt.

There are lots of "not applicables" and "no specific datas", but against Hazard statements it says "No known significant effects or critical hazards"

I think this means it should be OK :)