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--- Anne K Moore, March 6, 2009 ---
Photos by Anne K Moore ---

You will need:

- Peat moss.

- Perlite.

- Portland cement (pre-mixed concrete or mortar does not work.)

- Large plastic container for mixing.  (Use a wheelbarrow for large projects.)

- Rubber gloves.

- Dust mask.

- Table in the shade covered with heavy plastic sheeting.

- Thin plastic, like dry-cleaner bags.

- A wooden dowel.

- A mold

- Wood or metal must first be lined with plastic.

- Mix does not stick to cardboard, plastic, or Styrofoam.

- A wire brush.

Recipe for making a small trough:

½ gallon of peat moss

½ gallon of perlite

½ gallon of Portland cement

Break up any clumps and remove any sticks from the dry ingredients.  Mix all dry ingredients together.  Add water, a little at a time.  The amount of water depends on how hot the day is.  Mix and add water until the consistency is like thick oatmeal.  Squeeze the mix in your hand and then open-it should hang together and not let loose more than a couple drops of water.  If it's too wet, sprinkle more cement into the mix until it's the right consistency.

There are 2 ways to mold your trough.  One way is to line the inside of a mold, like a small Styrofoam cooler or an old bowl, with thin plastic.  Let the plastic scrunch up to give the container a more rustic look.  Then push the mix onto the bottom and up the sides.  Make it thick enough, at least a couple of inches, so that it will hold together.  Thin it some as you get near the top, stopping just below the top of the mold.

The second way is to cover the outside of an upside down container-mold with the mix.  Cover it with plastic first so that you can pull the trough off the mold easily.

Use the wooden dowel to push one or two drainage holes through the bottom of the trough.

Put the container in the shade and cover it with plastic. Don't move it for two to three days.  Scratch the concrete to see if it has hardened.  If it scratches, it needs to cure longer.  If it is hard surfaced, then you can carefully remove the mold. 

After the mold is removed, you can rough up the outside with the wire brush.  Leave it in a shady place for two weeks to finish curing.  It's OK if it gets rained on.

Now it is ready to be completed with your favorite little plants.  Use a cactus mix if you are filling it with succulents or rock garden plants.  Regular potting soil is good to use for most everything else.

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