Big storm today took our Banana tree down to the ground. I have been working on making stepping stones to make a more permanent pathway through the woods, down the very steep hill to the beautiful creek. I have been putting off using the banana leaves because they are so big and a bit intimidating. But today’s storm said to me “Buckle up buttercup!!” It is a good thing I stopped at the local home improvement store to pick up a second bag of concrete made by Quikrete. It took more than one 60 pound bag. I wasn’t able to use all of the leaves because my two tables are smaller than I remember sometimes.
I noticed I had a few small open spaces so I popped into the yard and cut off 3 nice hosta leaves to make the most of the table space. It is a bit of back breaking work and slightly time consuming. I am very lucky and my husband helps me out and it makes the process go so much quicker. With help about 2 hours later, set up and clean up included.
And the waiting for the concrete to harden begins. These leaves are pretty large so I plan on waiting 2 days instead of 1 before I flip them over and pull off the leaves. I made several other stepping stones about a month ago. 30 days for proper cure time of concrete is advised before painting or waterproofing.
I let the concrete dry for two days! Big leaf castings, which I will use as stepping stones are below. I am so happy with how well they turned out. Details of some things I learned this time are below.
I was afraid that if I added too much water the concrete would just run everywhere, off the leaf, off the table, onto the garage floor. Big mess!! (Storms like crazy-working indoors), but what I have noticed is the concrete mix needs to be just slightly runny because when its drier it tends to be chunkier or a bit rocky looking. Which leads to air bubbles that stay in the castings. When I was doing stepping stones in boxes I was able to gently jostle the boxes to work out the air bubbles. You can see where the casting looks rockier with permanent air bubbles in the close up photo below. Then following is a close up photo of the same leaf but you can see how much smoother and better defined details are presented with just a bit more water in the concrete mix.