I hope you have been with me for Part One! Here’s how my Big Hypertufa turned out.
I left the wrapped Giant T Rex Hypertufa Trough under the lilac bush in my side yard for about 7-10 days. I checked on it every now and again, but it seemed still pretty “wet” and “uncured”, so I always just let it stay wrapped. I finally decided to take it out of its form or framework, however you would call the apparatus I made it in. See Part One Here. It took two guys, my son and son-in-law with husband supervising to remove and lift it onto another wooden platform for it to continue curing. Once all the wood pieces and plastic was removed, I loved the way it looked. But then it needed to be re-wrapped and placed on a flatbed wagon again, with supporting boards underneath, for mobility. Again I pulled it over into the shade to sit another couple of weeks. I was so anxious to get it out, but ….
A Big Hypertufa Must Cure!
I planned for this hypertufa trough to be a “sun garden”, so I put it on the side of the house which gets all morning sun. This side garden is shaded by the house in the evening. Most of my sun lovers survive well here. I planned to put it up on “feet” and I thought that those half cinder-blocks would be perfect. They are 8 inch cubes so I visualized and measured and then went to the store and bought several. I thought it might need six, but just the four feet with one in the middle/center was enough support.
These made the perfect pedestals for the giant trough . The bed beneath the trough is pea gravel, so I drove Hub and sons crazy. I kept asking them to shift and level over and over until it seemed like the right position. Not too far back and not too far forward, but just right! ( And of course, it all had to be re-arranged when we actually got to set the trough down on the pedestals.)
Note: I mentioned in Part One that during the making of the T Rex Trough, I did use reinforcement for the bottom and sides. I cut sheets of hardware cloth of a 1/2 inch mesh and these are inside the walls and bottom. When he drilled the holes for drainage, my husband assured me that it would drill through easily with the masonry drill bit. As usual, he was right! ( Did I just say that?) I think this hardware cloth is adding to the strength of the trough and it is necessary because of its large size.
Here is the Big Hypertufa in place and my husband did a short demo on drilling the holes for drainage.
After my husband drilled the holes, it was necessary to texture the top and sides a little. I like to slightly round off the edges since I like a clean but aged looking top. So I carved with the brush and rasp, then swept out all of the debris. It is necessary to do this because the debris could plug up the holes later. So I swept it clean, rinsed thoroughly with the garden hose again and again. I misted with diluted vinegar solution and rinsed, over and over. Then I needed to take a large screwdriver and poke the holes again to be sure all the debris was cleared from the drainage holes.
I use vinyl screening sheets to cover my drainage holes. In the case, a large sheet was stretch across the bottom and I poured the soil into it. It took two large bags ( 2 cubic foot) to fill it. So that totaled 4 cubic feet. I poured about 25 pounds of poultry grit and mixed and mixed until I felt it was distributed well. I added a little perlite since I want to make sure of good drainage. I mounded in well above the top and then watered it well. Of course, it settled and left me with a pretty level planting surface. Perfect!
If you would like to use poultry grit, and in my opinion, it is perfect for succulents, you may find it at a Farm Store since it is something that is fed to poultry. I did not find this at any local Big Box store. Reference the link above to see what it looks like and then you will know what to ask for. I had a hard time finding it and located in at a store called Tractor Supply in Xenia. It is really pretty since it is crushed granite, pink granite in my bag. Make a pretty top dressing for little containers.
When I felt that my hypertufa trough was thoroughly rinsed and treated for excess lime, I got ready to add the soil. It used two full bags of 2 cu ft capacity. I poured this 1/2 bag at a time into my large mixing bin and added coarse sand and poultry grit. I added approx 4 gallons of the coarse mixture. I like to be sure of good drainage. After placing a large sheet of vinyl screen across the bottom of the trough, I added the soil. It took several times to get enough mixed to fill it, but it was finally done. It was very fluffy and nice! I was so excited.
But we all know that the soil settles! So I still couldn’t plant it! I had to water the soil completely to settle it all in. I did not want the soil level to sink below the surface by a few inches after planting. So for two additional days, I watered the soil, added a little more soil, and watered again. I felt pretty good about it in two days. And now I could plant this T Rex Trough! Finally!
I planted stonecrop “Coral Carpet”, rockfoil ( this was a mistake, more about that in another post), erodium rheichardii, sedum sexangulare, sempervivum “Black”, sempervivum “Desert Bloom”, sisyrinchium angustifolium Blue eyed Grass ( a tiny iris relative), elfin thyme, sedum humisifusum “Tiny Urchin” and some other assorted semps for which I don’t have a name.
Love it! I finally have my Big One!
Let me know what you think of this in the comments. Do you have a special trough that you love the best?