Dabbling in Diapers for Drought

I haven’t been all that motivated to write considering I’ve spent less than a couple hours in the yard in the past month, and that was mainly just to haul brush to the curb for the City of Austin collection day in our area. The cooler weather has been was nice, but with zero rain during the past few days of scattered thunderstorms, my yard is still a desiccated wasteland, and somewhat depressing to behold.

I did remove a native (and dead) inland sea oats grass from a large pot and move a stray little bluestem grass to the pot. I tried something that I hope will help foster deep roots and some moisture retention in the pot, as well as help some of my potted plants survive drought. And the seeds of the idea came from a project I’d been a part of.

A couple years ago I volunteered on a City of Austin Wildland Conservation Division work project to plant little bluestem in an arroyo on a preserve to mitigate erosion. We used a donated (but otherwise expensive) product called DriWater to help establish the transplants in the absence of continued watering.

WQPL Rutherford arroyo restoration
WQPL Rutherford arroyo restoration

WQPL Rutherford arroyo restoration

The idea behind the product is that a non-toxic, degradable cellulose matrix bearing water within a carton would slowly release the water to the plants over an extended period as soil microbes helped the cellulose matrix decay – ideal for a preserve where watering wouldn’t be available. I heard anecdotally that the product helped and that some of the grasses got established.

Fast-forward to the past year. I have a toddler bumbling around, and one thing we certainly have is a supply of diapers. Occasionally one tears or fails in some way while still clean. It occurred to me at one point diapers probably use the same technology as the Dri-Water does, even if they don’t come pre-loaded with a water supply. (You need a toddler for that.)

I’d collected a few “bad” diapers, eventually to support my experiment. I tore the elastic and extraneous junk off a diaper and, while planting the little bluestem in a pot, buried the diaper pieces in the soil.

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Diapers seem to hold buckets of… liquid. I’m curious to see if this helps the transplant grass weather our drought. I might try a planting in a raised bed with some diaper pieces at some point near transplants, or adjust potted plants to have more than one diaper in them. It’s been a week, and so far my transplanted bluestem looks good despite minimal watering.

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