Garden DIY: Making a Concrete Herb Pot
Kate Crowley The completed herb pot in action. You can make this in your backyard in under an hour. (Minus the chip on the left.)
One trip to the Desert Botanical Garden bookstore and you'll be full of ideas for your own garden. Some are practical and others require winning the lottery or moving. Luckily, they carry Concrete Garden Projects by Malin Nilsson and Camilla Arvidsson, a book that not only serves as inspiration via beautiful photos but also provides easy-to-follow DIY instructions on how to make everything from small pots for plants to a concrete barbecue.
You're thinking, concrete? First thing, concrete is pretty sturdy, and if you've ever had your favorite pot weathered by the Arizona sun, you'll soon realize that concrete is a great choice. Concrete also is very easy to work with, and nearly anything can be made into a mold for concrete. Once finished, your plant and its greenery will create contrast with the gray concrete and just looks cool.
I decided to try my hand at a simple project: create a medium-size concrete herb pot with two separate areas, one for lemon verbena and one for mint. Mint should generally be separated from other herbs as their root system is extensive and can "take over" if you're not careful. To my shock, this book's instructions were pretty accurate, and the project took less than an hour, excluding drying time.
Kate Crowley This book is as charming inside as the cover would imply.
Making this herb pot is a lot like baking. Getting everything ready, follow the instructions and then work in the right order. For this project, you'll need concrete (quick mix concrete works as does the more commercial concrete), water/hose, a paint brush, cooking oil, a large container and two small containers.
Additionally, if you want drainage hole, use a straw or a found object to mark the hole and ensure concrete doesn't enter the area. It also helps to have a cinder block or heavy weight around -- but rocks work well for this purpose, too. Ensure you have a clean and level workspace; preferably a waist high table, like a potting table.
For this project, you'll need one larger container and two small containers. Make sure that the two small containers fit comfortably inside the large container. The large container is your main mold, so there needs to be space for sturdy walls to form between the objects. The smaller containers are the interior molds. I used some terra cotta- colored "pots" made of sturdy plastic found at a local hardware store. An advantage here is that they already had openings for drainage and they came in a variety of sizes.
Kate Crowley Here is the beginning stages of the project: getting everything in place.
Use a paint brush to thoroughly coat the inside of the larger mold and the outside of the smaller molds with cooking oil. It's just like baking; anywhere there is oil- the concrete won't stick. Now, mix up your concrete. It's roughly two parts concrete to one part water, the final product should be like a thick batter. Keep in mind that concrete, especially here in dry Arizona, sets quickly. I mixed my concrete with a garden spade in an old bucket.
If you're making drainage holes, decide now where you're going to place the straws; it's a good idea to slide them into place and have a friend hold them in place while you pour concrete. If you use something more substantial like a pipe, you may not need help. Either way, ensure they are "oiled up."