Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hypertufa Troughs

Wintertime is a great time to do crafts for the garden. Another project I always wind up doing besides building flower carts, is to make hypertufa troughs. I have made several before but I find I can never have enough of these unique little plant pots.

Hypertufa is a manufactured version of tufa. Tufa is a porous rock formed as a deposit from springs and streams (Merriam- Webster's Online Dictionary). Like tufa, hypertufa is porous. I like the fact hypertufa is porous, but you would not want to plant moisture loving plants in them. I use mine for hen and chicks and sedums and other succulents.

Previously when I have made the pots, I used a one part peat moss, one part portland cement, and one part perlite recipe. This time I used a 2 part peat moss, 1 part perlite, and 3 part concrete mix. I thought using less perlite would give my pots a finer texture, whereas using more of the concrete mix would compensate for not having straight portland cement, or so I thought. The first pot, pictured above still in its mold, fell apart when I finally tried to remove it from the mold. Darn! Lesson learned, use real Portland Cement.

My next attempt at making hypertufa went much better. I was successful in creating several new pots using Portland Cement. The recipe I used in making these pots was: 1 part cement, 1 part peat moss, and 1/2 part perlite. The pots are all in varying degrees of drying and the colors reflect the degrees. Normal hypertufa will dry a light gray. The two large rectangular pots in the upper left of the picture were colored with brown concrete stain. I am very interested to see how they finally dry. The other six pots were colored with buff concrete stain, though you really can't tell either from the picture or from the pots themselves. I think the darker colored stains work best on this type of pot and will not use the light colored stains anymore.

I have used flower pots, cardboard boxes stuffed with styrofoam, and plastic containers for molds. Personally I prefer using strong plastic molds. The cardboard tends to get soggy and will bend if not seriously reinforced, but it is handy and comes away from the pot easily. Plastic flower pots work out well, as do the plastic containers. While trying to separate one pot from its popcorn bowl mold, I had to resort to breaking the mold in order to get my pot out. Oh well, kitchen bowls can be overrated anyhow and we always have too many-don't we? Next time I will try building a wooden mold. I think the size will be more uniform and if I build the mold right, I should be able to dismantle it from the hypertufa pot.

After you mix whatever recipe you use together (there are tons of recipes out there), mold it to your mold but be sure to spray the mold with some cooking spray or coat the mold with plastic wrap. Poke a few drainage holes in the bottom of your pot. Add small stones and decorations as desired then cover the whole thing with plastic and let it sit for at least two days.

Gently unmold the new pot and place in the garden when fully cured. My new pots are currently safely enscounced in my garage to continue to cure. Curing can continue for several weeks, though curing can be accomplished in the garden. I only have mine in the garage because it has been so cold outside. These troughs should last for a long time and the designs are limited only by your imagination.

in the garden....making pots.


  1. I saw a process on TV of making these from either cow or horse poop! I am curious Tina, do you ever jump the fence in the back yard and collect cow pies for the garden??? I dont know if cow is good but people keep telling me to utilize our next door neighbors horses. Na, I like the smell of dirt but not horse poop! LOL...

    Neat project Tina. When do you find time to do all the things you do? You must only sleep for about 4 hours each night!

    So much for our 70 temps this weekend! Weather changed and they were calling for snow and ice this morning. Of course I don’t see any snow or ice but a chill is in the air! They say the 70’s will be here on Wednesday. Looking for that warm stuff….

  2. Tina, when you mentioned the Squirrels taking the fake snow... well, I put a new batch of it under the trees on Wednesday. As we left the house yesterday to head to town, I notice a small batch missing. Then as we returned home, we had to laugh. As we pulled up to the house, we spotted fake snow all over the place! Huge clump on the brick wall, clumps on the front landing, clumps in the driveway and throughout the yard... Someone was busy while we were gone! We had our hands full of grocery bags and birdseed so we did not take time to get it up. This morning when I went out to get the morning newspaper, I notice all the clump pieces were gone as were more clumps from under the trees! Those little buggars are keeping warm with my pillow stuffing, ah, snow!

  3. I'm telling you --you are one busy gal! You have such unique ideas and I like that you share with all of us. Get started on that garden book:) You know I'd buy the first copy:)

  4. not so busy. when you have a passion for things you try to get it all done. at least while i am not working and have some time. i try to do stuff when the jimster is in school, but it doesn't always happen that way.

    skeeter-you gotta watch those little buggers! they seem quite bold down there. i haven't had so many problems up here, which is good. the birds are happy, now if i could just keep that silly pest control cat fromt them and after the squirrels...

    anonymous, you are too kind as alway and i am glad i know you-more than four years now? i am seriously considering writing a book. my goodness i cannot believe how much i write on here. i don't know if i have improved in my writing but i recognize it is an awful lot and would make an informative book. i always said i would write a book-guess i am but so far only on the web. i used to think i would be like stephen king and write horror novels. but, alas, i am thinking i would be better at gardening novels. is there such a thing or is that an oxymoron?

  5. Tina with the way you write you can write on anything you wanna write about.

    Skeeter that is so funny with the squrrels. Tina said before when you told us about to get a picture....your really gotta do that!! It would be so cute.

  6. Jean, I do have a picture of a squirrel stealing the snow from last year. I was trying to get a better shot of one this year though. I am going to do a posting about it on the Pet People Blog but have not had a chance to sit and jot a line or two as of yet.... Hey, where is the owl picture? I am still waiting on that one from you.... LOL...

    Been in the yard today... Saint and I went out to more or less just measure the roof of the woodshed and to jot down a list of materials needed to rebuild a new metal roof instead of the plastic one we did a few years ago... The GA heat warped the thing! Arggg...

    Anyway, before you know it, we had made my compost bin! I am not sure I like the compost bin because it is a bit too rustic for my taste. I am more formal in the yard and it looks a bit redneck but hey I am from Tennessee right! What is wrong with a little redneck look! The stacked logs had been there for a bit longer then we remembered and as we took the stack apart, all the bark fell off the logs! We found termites also which is not good. But we completed the project and I already have a pile of leaves and bark from the area in the bin! Under the logs was the most fertile looking soil you ever saw! I may come back and do something nicer but for now, I reckon it will work and it is behind the garden and not really in sight. Too close to 3 butterfly bushes which I thought were goners until last year when they perked back to life. They may need to be moved or the compost bin moved in time....

    The Saint started to burn some old rotting limbs and a tree we cut down from last spring which was now dry enough to burn. As he did that, I got the mulching push mower out and mowed the side yard. Finally, all the leaves are gone on three sides of the house! I still need to do the front strip of grass.

    Then I put fresh pine straw by the storage shed and also fresh red mulch under the Jasmine and in the small planter (island) by the patio where I have the oil torch and two azaleas...

    All looks so pretty now! It was sooo nice to be in the yard playing today!

  7. Tina, I agree with Jean. You can write anything you want to with your talent.

    I imagine it was a pretty funny sight to see snow all over. I had left a cloth out after I washed my clothes line off & guess what? The little buggers had took it to line their nest. Wondered what happened to it till much later I spotted it.

    I have wanted to make some of those troughs but never got around to it. I guess I'm just super slow. I tried strawberry jars for hen & chicks, they don't work. Of course you could put a small pvc pipe down the middle with small holes drilled in it so water could disperse more even. I didn't do that. Next time I will.When I tried to water it would just run out holes where plants were, so they didn't get any & died.

    Sure getting itchy to get out in yard. Things are beginning to come up. Like Snow Bells & Butter cups. Snow Bells sure are cute. Saw some red bud trees sporting their flowers the other day coming back from G'ville. Spring not far behind, I hope.

  8. Hi Mom, Skeeter and Lola!

    Mom, I'm telling you Skeeter has some wild squirels down there. You are lucky you don't have so many problems-the owl probably got them.

    Skeeter, I too just got back from Home Depot (not Lowes today). I hope you and the Saint can figure out how to fix that ol' leaky roof and spent your $100 there. Seems like that is about the right amount. btw. seeds are out.

    Send me a picture of your compost bin and I will post it sometime. And hey, what's wrong with a little rednecky look? You ARE from Tennessee! True. Be careful or your yard might look like mine. On second thought, I think the Saint will not allow that would he?:)

    Lola, you being in the south too have some rascally squirrels as well. Lucky you:(

    I have a strawberry pot and I don't think they are much good for anything! Strawberries or others. I have sedum at the top of mine. I put a little cardboard roll in the middle. It was a hard roll and I had to drill holes in it but I am not sure it helps much.

    Spring comes early to Florida and it will not be long before you out there with those boys planting away!

  9. Tina, Jean and Lola... I just posted the squirrel theft story with pictures on the Pet People blog. Go Check it out... That is funny Lola about the cloth. My sister in law told me that one stole a banner given to her for Mothers day by her daughter! He stole it off the pole and took it into his nest! I thought that was funny but it has been war ever since for her and the squirrels… LOL…

    Tina, the Saint was so tired from lifting all those logs into place that he did not say one word about it being redneck looking! We will go back out tomorrow and look at it and see what we think then. Some times things look different when you are rested. I am thinking he did not say anything negative for fear it would entail more work! LOL...
    I did snap before and after pictures of the bin Tina. I like to keep pictures of the progress I make in the yard.

  10. I guess I need to get back out to the yard and finish off those dead trees:( I can't wait to see what the spring will bring me in the yard. You all can laugh but I walk around looking to see what is popping up --the previous owner left some cool stuff out there and I can't tell you what half of them are. I do know I accidentally removed a few plants last fall --I am so bad about weeds/green plants. My hubby wanted to know why there where so many blank spots alongside the deck. (Hahahah) If it didn't look too pretty I took it out --I know better now --just a little too late. All this garden talk gets me excited for the spring --just not all the weed trimming and mowing. Although, I am very excited to say FINALLY after almost 16 years of marriage I got a riding mower:) Ah, this thing is smooth --red --everyone always asks what kind -I don't know it's red and shiny and sure beats push mowing:)

  11. All the squirrel stories are hilarious!

    Anonymous you are funny with the mower story and have fun with it. Also no one will laugh about you walking around the gardens cause most gardeners do it all the time.

  12. Skeeter, I forgot to tell you earlier-no, I haven't yet jumped the fence to get some cow pies. I too have heard of crafts made of that but no, probably not for me.

    Good morning Anonymous lol, You all this lady is a very special lady I know personally. And let me tell you when she gets excited about getting a RIDING lawn mower that is really a big deal. She, like me maintains the yard and has always done it with a push mower. I would hate to see you out there in your huge backyard with a push mower and I am glad you got a riding mower! I need to get a picture of you on it for on here. Yes, the kids can get in it too. I will be doing a post about kids and gardening soon so your brood is definitely invited. (You readers wish me luck as anonymous doesn't like her picture taken). When you see something new coming up make note of it and try to find out the name so you'll know what to expect. I can drop by sometime too. In fact, I would love to use a picture of the 'ripped' up wisteria arbor for a post on wisteria. Maybe sometime this week I will drop by? Just for a minute.

    Anonymous and her husband also are finally owning their first home. They are like Skeeter and her Saint in that it has taken a while due to all of the traveling. It is a beautiful home and they all love it very much. As it should be with your home.

    Mom, Down here depending on where you live people DO think it odd if you walk through the gardens a lot. Trust me. I don't think anonymous's neighbors would think so though. If they did, they would never mention it and you only live once so walk and walk (when you are not running).

    Also, Mom, I forgot to counter you about our lilacs not smelling as good as up north. They do. Just a good. There just aren't as many of them so the scent doesn't waft through as much. Also, and I know we have talked about it before but a fresh picked tomato tastes JUST as good down here as up there. Yes it does! But aside from all these facts, I do still miss growing things up there. Less bugs, more rain, better soil (though still lots of rocks).

  13. Anonymous, I know what you mean about your Red Riding Mower! The Saint got me one but I think he was buying it for himself and led me to believe he was getting it for me. You see, our yard is so much to deal with in the Steamy GA summers that I was asking for his help with mowing. After he pushed mowed it a few times, magically the riding mower was purchased! I took it a step further and got the little Red wagon to go with mine! Saint wondered why when we have such a good wheel barrel. After a few times of him hauling limbs from the woods, he knew why the wagon was necessary! Ah, to think I use to love diamonds as gifts. Now a riding mower gets my fancy!

    I think I have been guilty of plucking something I thought to be a weed too! We have probably all done it at some point.... I dont like weeds and get a bit carried away with Round-up at times. I think I may have killed a beautiful azalea by letting the Round-up accidently spritz into the area. Argggg

    Tina, Are cow pies not good fertilizer in the garden???

  14. Hi Skeeter, so glad you were as excited about a riding mower. I hav been the push mowing mama for years and at times it has been tricky. There were the times with two in a playpen and a table full of playdoh in the shade to appease the others. Now, they are all getting bigger and still need watching but this mower is a GEM! That wagon attachment sounds like something I'd like to get in the future too. You'd be suprised at how much mulch a few kids toys can handle, lol. We used the Monster truck and John Deere ride-ons to do our yard with mulch. It took us 3 solid days with the kids helping every day. (followed by a swim) And, of course the batteries needed charging every night. AH, sweet memories --I hope to get another 4 yards full of mulch soon --the kids will have FUN, hahahaha. Tina --I will gladly let you take a picture of that darn wisteria damage --we were just outside looking at it again --I will work on the deck/painting in the spring. I just have to make a list or I'll be running in circles. Back outside ....oh, yes we trimmed a few more trees today. I might get them all done before they bloom:)

  15. Good job on trimming those trees. This is the best time to do it.