Wednesday October 8
The damaged Butler sink I bought last year from a smallholding owner in North Walsham for 'only' £10, has been looking at me reproachfully ever since. Standing on its side near the shed, slowly filling with dead leaves it looked - and was - abandoned.
When the cold frame had finished its use for this year, there was room for Kevin to bring the sink round to its final position and stand the sink on bricks. I even scrubbed it immediately.
Some weeks (months?) later, when it had become cooler, I checked I had the necessary ingredients. Yes. Still no action.......
Girding my loins, I measured out the builders' sand and left it on a large tray in the greenhouse to dry off. Not essential but dry sand is easier to mix with the peat, potting compost and grit. More prevarication.
Eventually, I measured the remaining ingredients into the wheelbarrow, mixed it well and it rained. The barrow was moved into the utility room.......
A few days later, immediately after rising, Pam and I found the mixing board, tipped the barrow's contents onto it, Pam mixed whilst I added the water until the hypertufa was the required consistency - just wet enough to clump together. Although I hate wearing them, this is definitely a rubber gloves job.
First, the sink's surface is coated with PVA glue, using an old paint brush, I do it in sections. The sink needs to be covered about 4-6 inches down the inside of the sink as well as the outside.
Then comes the firm moulding on of handfuls of the mixture, leaving a rough finish so that it looks like stone, under the bottom edge of the sink is essential.
Cover the sink with damp sacks or plastic and leave on for 2-3 days. One to two weeks later, depending on the weather and how impatient one is, put a layer of permeable membrane in the bottom of the sink, and add crocks/large stones to the depth desired. This saves on compost and adds necessary drainage.
Fill with a mix of 2 parts JI 2 or 3, 1 part sand, 1 part peat. 1 part alpine grit and a handful of bonemeal, well mixed beforehand. When settled, plant, add tufa rocks - one's own can be made if there is any hypertufa left over. The final act is to add a top dressing of alpine grit, I shall do so this weekend. Phew. Enjoy.
The recipe for hypertufa is available from the Alpine Garden Society website.