Hypertufa Containers July 9, 2016

These containers and statuary are just a sampling of what can be made with hypertufa.  Come to the Halifax Farmers Market on Saturday, July 9th from 8 – 11 AM to make and take your own hypertufa container and taste some Liberty Teas.

            Join the Southside Master Gardener Association and the Southside Virginia Herb Society from 8 to 11 AM on Saturday July 9th at the Halifax Farmers Market for fun activities for adults and kids.  The Master Gardeners will lead you through the process of making a hypertufa container to take home.  Cost is $5 for each container.  Supplies will be provided.    
Hypertufa – does the word conjure up images of a microscopic fungus or maybe an overactive body part?  Hypertufa is the name of a process of making garden containers, ornaments, sculptures or stepping stones using Portland cement, perlite and peat moss.  The process is easy and fun!  The process was developed to substitute for volcanic rock called Tufa used to make Alpine troughs.
 The first step of the process is selecting a mold.  Most any type of container such as a bowl, box or even a glass torchiere lamp shade will work. Step two is making the mix.  Don a dust mask and plastic gloves for protection.  In a 5 gallon container mix two parts Portland cement, three parts perlite and three parts peat moss.  Masonry stain can be added for more color. Make sure all is well blended with no lumps.  Slowly add water to moisten the mix until it is the consistency of oatmeal. 
Fill the mold by lining the container with plastic bag.  Pour mixture into the bottom of the outer mold 1” deep.  And continue to add mixture to build up the sides of the pot.  Use a dowel to make a drainage hole in the bottom of the container.  the outer pot removed on the following day. 
The final step is finishing the pot.  Remove the plastic and the mold after a couple of days.  Smooth any rough edges with a file.  Gather your patience to allow curing outside for the rest of the summer and winter.  If allowed to dry in the sun the container will take on a lighter color than if cured in the shade.  It will be ready to use next spring.
Because most hypertufa containers are shallow, it is more suited for succulents like sedum and hens and chicks.  These are sturdy containers that can take the winter weather so no need to bring inside when things turn cold.
The Herb Society will be offering an Liberty tea tasting.  Liberty teas are what the colonists substituted for the common black tea that England had taxed.  The Herb Society will be selling herbal booklets on herbal crafts and culinary and Biblical herbs. 
So don your old clothes since hypertufa can be messy and join in the fun.  As always, Master Gardeners will be there to answer your gardening questions. Please visit the regular vendors with veggies, fruits, organic meat, honey and eggs.  The market also has lots of non-food goodies like herbal creams and soaps, collectibles, garden art, portrait photography and dog supplies. 

If you want to know more about the Master Gardeners and their programs, contact Bill McCaleb at the Halifax Extension Office 434-476-2147 option 0 or e-mail ask@ssmga.org.