Hypertufa For Your Garden
Years ago I read an article is some house related magazine and thought to myself "Self, one day you are going to try that." The article mentioned hypertufa garden planters. If you need to know what hypertufa is, you can check the link. If you don't believe any of this you can check this link and this link just so you know that I don't make this stuff up! Well, some day has arrived.
I decided to make a large planter and needed a mold. I looked around the house and settled on one of our lovely "City of Dayton" recycle waste containers for the basic shape with a kitty litter bucket for the inside impression.
Most people use cardboard boxes but I wanted to be able to make additional planters if I was happy with the result. I lined the recycle bin with a plastic construction grade garbage bag so as not to ruin my lovely blue bin with the city logo on it.
My recipe consists of 1 part Portland cement, 1.5 parts sifted peat moss (you need to get the big twig bits out), 1 part perlite and 0.5 parts sand and a pinch of polypropylene fibers. I used a shovel to measure the parts and mixed it all in a wheel barrow. This is masonry not rocket science. Here is what the mix looked like when I put it in the wheel barrow
and here is what it looked like after it was dry mixed.
I added enough water to make the mix malleable and not to dry or too wet and put an inch of the stuff in the bottom of the lined bin. I then placed the kitty litter bucket in place and added more of my cement mix around the edges. I had to mix up three batches in order to make enough for this project because I am lousy at guesstimating volumes. When done it looked like this
and then I pulled the bag over the top to allow the thing to cure and retain the moisture as it does so.
After a couple of days I removed the planter from the bin by lifting out the plastic bag. I did this because I needed the bin for trash collection on Thursday! While I was at it I removed the kitty litter bucket too and allowed the thing to cure for one more day before I took a wire brush to it to roughen up the surface and make it look like rock. I also gauged a hole in the bottom with a short handled dandelion plucker to allow for drainage. I would have used a screwdriver for this task if there was one sitting on the back porch. At 4 PM on Thursday it looked like this.
This puppy is about 9 inches tall by 16 inches or so long and isn't too heavy due to the fact that I used perlite as an aggregate. I stuck it back in the bag to cure and went around to the front of the house to look at a smaller one that I made about three weeks ago.
The Portland cement costs about $5.00, sand is $2.50, the peat moss was a little over $6.00 and a huge bag of perlite cost $12.00 from a florist. The perlite will be the hardest thing to find. I am guessing that I could make about 7 of these large planters for $25.00 which is good because the little ones sell for about $30.00 each at Meijer.
So go off and be good gardeners now and make some pots to plant your herbs in. In a few weeks when I make the sink for the small powder room you will realize why I am experimenting with this kind of stuff!