Friday, May 15, 2015

Frugal Friday in the Garden

On Wednesday, I "cooked up" the hypertufa recipe for a small garden pot:

(1) part Portland cement
(1&1/2) parts perlite
(1&1/2) parts peat moss
A big splash (about 1/2 cup) of concrete acrylic fortifier

Don't forget to wear gloves.


After ingredients were mixed to the consistency of brownie batter,  I plopped a couple of handfuls into the bottom of a  2&1/2 quart plastic container.  The interior of the container had been sprayed with cooking oil for easy release after the cement dries.

A second smaller container was also sprayed and set on top of the mix in the first container.
  Then more cement mix was added to this "official" flower pot mold in the space between the two containers.

The pot was filled to the top with the cement, 
 covered with plastic wrap and set aside in the garage.

This morning (two days later), I removed the molds and revealed the small flower pot.  The bottom of the pot was still wet, so I carefully picked it up and took it into the studio to photograph it.  But I didn't put it down carefully enough.

Oh, well.

I still had leaf castings to unmold.

For the leaf castings, the recipe was a little different.
  I used
equal parts of Portland cement and sandbox sand with a splash of acrylic fortifier and enough water to get more "brownie mix."

I didn't have access to a rhubarb leaf, which is what many people use, but I found these pretty leaves next to my front porch.

I found an old box bigger than the leaf.   Then I scooped a bunch of sand into the box.  The sand was mounded, covered with plastic wrap and the leaf was placed on top of it - face down.

The leaf was covered with the cement mix; a heavier amount was laid on the spine of the leaf (about 1/2 inch) and  thinner amounts towards the edges of the leaf.  The leaf was covered with plastic and placed in the garage.  I also did a second smaller leaf.

The leaves were taken out of the garage today.  I cracked off bottom pieces of BOTH of them.

So, what lessons did I learn?

Be careful.

Be patient.

Be mindful when choosing leaves.

The mounded sand on which the leaves sit should have been wet to hold the shape.  The weight of the cement on the second leaf collapsed the mound.  The leaf came out pretty flat.

Next time, I will crimp and flute the edges of the leaf (like a pie crust) to get a more elegant final shape.

Will I do this again?  Yes. 
 Hope to have a few more next week - minus all those directions.

It was a bit gloomy today, but the sun just popped out and the birds started singing, the bees are buzzing, and the flowers are growing.

All's right with the gardening world.


  1. Wonderful post, Chris, and your last photo is stunning!

  2. Thanks, Linda. The photo was taken at the end of our yard.

  3. You are very creative and patient woman. The last picture is fantastic.

  4. You are very creative and patient woman. The last picture is fantastic.

  5. thank you for sharing your experiences, wonderful. I'm just starting to take my garden seriously and it's so rewarding.

    And thank you too for your very kind words,much appreciated!

  6. Dear Chris - what a process. I think the leaves turned out very well. Hope you will share more of these works of art.
    Take care and have a great week. Love the last photo - just beautiful friend.

  7. Having missed a bit of internet while moving, I'm not sure of your project but I sure like the way you think! Can't wait to see more and what/how you will use these!

  8. Wow, i love it cause im learning again, im into this phase where i look for designs for home cause i am planning to renovate our house!Cool read!

  9. Thank you, Suzanne. Gardening is so much fun - just like painting, decorating, cooking, ... It's all creative!!

  10. Thanks, Debbie. These are really fun to do - no guarantee for success at the beginning, but I'll keep trying.

  11. Thanks, Steve. My husband and I have to be more frugal nowadays, but I think I would do these little homemade projects anyway. They are fun and satisfying (even if you stumble on that learning curve).

  12. Muito obrigado pela tua visita ao meu blog.

    Achei muito interessante esta "lição". Acho que vou pôr em prática os teus ensinamentos -:)))

    Espero-te de novo no meu blog, no dia 24/05.

    Feliz semana.
    Um beijo

  13. I enjoyed this post but, Chris, and admire your calm reaction to the breakage. There would have been wailing and nashing of teeth at my house.
    I am with Debbie -I liked the leaves! Even the veins are perfect.tree
    Was it the sun starting to set causing the orange glow on the tree trunk ? Quite spectacular!

  14. Thank you, Miguel. I will definitely revist your wonderful blog.

  15. Thanks, Julie. Hope to improve the leaves this week - will be careful not to break off the ends again. The trees are at the end of my yard and yes, the sun was getting ready to set. It's a pretty spot.