Caterpillar, Moths, Bugs and Bees

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Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

This week, I’ve been posting pictures of a Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) – well, not the moth itself yet, but its caterpillar stages before becoming a moth.

On Monday of this week, he moved to the base of a plant he’s been feasting on and began the process of making a silk cocoon. I’m glad I caught the very first stage of it – and was able to take pictures every couple of hours during the afternoon.

As noted in an earlier blog post, I spotted the caterpillar when I noticed something was eating the leaves of the plant (an elderberry in a starter pot). I am totally fascinated by this caterpillar’s coloring, horns, and well, as odd as this may sound, he kind of became my buddy. (See earlier posts of photos of him during his feasting stages.)

Every day, I’d go out to see if he was still clinging onto the stems of the elderberry, and see how much “damage” he did by feasting, and then voila – this week, I came out and he was starting his process of creating a silky cocoon (not sure if cocoon is the right term.)

I was surprised he squished himself in the base between stems/branches, and the plant label, which I never removed. The label makes a great supporting wall for him. I didn’t see him move at all when I would go out to take a look and photo.

In fact, every time I stepped out to take a photo before, he would stop moving usually and pull his head into his big body during his eating cycles in the mornings prior to the cocoon making.

Upon reading and looking it up, I discovered the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is “North America’s largest native moth” – and it is noted in references that “females can get a wingspan of six inches or more.” Cool. So it is a neat find and I’ve enjoy watching its progress.

As odd as this may sound, I have a memory from childhood of seeing a huge butterfly on a bush and running to get my parents to show them. Later in life, I thought, did I imagine this? – but I remember it being huge – similar to the photos of this moth. I will have to ask my parents if they remember this at all, or if I imagined it.

Anyhow, today, I think I’m going to prune the plant back and put a netting material over the top so nothing can get at it during the rest of the summer and into fall.

In the winter, I will either move the pot into my garage because it must experience the normal temps of winter, or put it under my steps in the front of the house.

I went to a website and asked about it – and they recommended these steps versus bringing it inside or putting it in a grow room which would be too warm.

From what I’ve learned, this moth, when it comes out – will only stick around for 2 weeks, and it is rare to actually spot the process of it coming out – but I do not want to totally disturb it and let nature take it’s course too. It is more important to me he makes it than to witness it changing into a huge, beautiful moth. Especially if it only lives for two weeks.

Ironically, earlier this season, I found black caterpillars feeding on a plant by the side of my house in a different area. I even posted a video of them and remember saying, I don’t know what they are, but I don’t like that they are eating my plant – Well, I suspect now they were the instar versions of this caterpillar because I’ve been looking at the pictures online of it’s growth process online.

Its cocoon basically got thicker and darker colored during the afternoon on Monday. By the next day, it was very dark brown where you can’t really see the caterpillar anymore inside because the layers are so thick from the silk.

He will change into a brown casing (chrysalis? I don’t know – I’m not a bug expert), eventually inside – similar to what is depicted in the Silence of The Lambs movie – like that. I am “not” gonna open it up though.

Here are some photos which I posted on my Instagram feed:

Beginnings #caterpillars #caterpillar #silkmoth #cocoon #cecropia #cecropiamoth

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

He has started. #cocoon #silkmoth #caterpillar #caterpillars

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#cocoon #silkmoth #caterpillar #caterpillars

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Took lots of photos! Love seeing this. #caterpillars #caterpillar #silkmoth #cocoon

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#cocooning #cocoon #moth #cecropiamoth #caterpillar

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Beetle with Babies

I discovered another insect “thing” yesterday – I put out some glass jars on hanging hooks, and the rain filled one partially. There was a beetle floating around – deceased sadly (drowned), but I noticed little movements of its babies on its back. This stuff fascinates me – nature always has and always will, and I felt a little bad for the mommy – even for an insect I have these feelings at times. Not all the time though – not when they devour other plants I adore.

She drowned. Her babies on her back moving. #bugs #beetle

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Bees on my Clethra alnifolia

Clethra alnifolia, commonly called summersweet, is a deciduous shrub which blooms this time of year, and has an intense fragrance. I have only one in my yard, but I look forward to seeing and smelling it every time it starts up its white flowers.

Yesterday, I walked up to it – and of course, iPhone in hand, and I saw a bee kind of sleeping on an upright panicle (flower heads). As I moved closer to take a shot, his little arm would jump up as if he was saying stop coming towards me – it was comical – like a reflex.

Eventually he got annoyed with me and flew away which I caught on a fast video taping and his one little arm was raised like he was saying goodbye as he took off. No Joke! LOL.

#clethra #pollinatorsandflowers

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Because people are very interested in helping our bee pollinators – this is a good shrub to add to your landscape for late summer blooms to give the bees a boost – and they are certainly enjoying it right now.

September Workshop – Garden Art Creations

Also, we posted a photo of samples of the art pieces we will be making in our September 10th workshop called, “Garden Art Creations” – with wine bottles. Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie is our Special Guest Instructor. She developed three prototypes to show us what we are in for! I can’t wait.

WINE ART WORKSHOP TIMEFLIES_0001

Here are some details:

Location:

72 Harrington Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016

Registration Fee:

$35 pp – Includes a pre-cut wine bottle per attendee, art pieces to embellish, instructions by our Guest Artist Speaker, wire, etc. You may bring additional art pieces to add and should bring your own wine corks. Bring own wire cutters if you have them.

Special Guest Speaker:

Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie. Laura is a returning Guest Artist at our workshop. She taught a wind chime making class in 2015 and we are happy to have her return in 2016 for this workshop.

Date and Registration:

The date for this workshop has been scheduled for September 10th, 2016. Please refer to our www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site for more information, to register via Eventbrite on that site, or see our Facebook EVENT on Container Crazy CT facebook wall. Registration and pre-payment is required. Seats are limited – so please don’t wait if you would like to join us. It will be held rain or shine, and if a nice day, hopefully outdoors.

Enjoy your surroundings everyone – it is there for us to enjoy. Even without Pokemons (did I spell that right?).

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

Oh, and FYI, my “Ugly” tomatoes, or Costoluto Genovese, are getting bigger, can’t wait for them to ripen. They may be ugly ducklings but the flavor is suppose to be fantastic. The reason I selected them, along with Tomatoe ‘Juliet’, Tomatoe ‘Purple Bumblebee’, and Tomatoe ‘Sun Gold’ is because they are interesting – and, I like that kind of thing…

Tomatoe Ugly #containergardening

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

 

Fresh Cukes, Fresh Sprouts, Fresh Tea

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Patio Snacker Cucumber

It is amazing the drinks and fresh meals you can come up with when you have just a few successful edible plants growing in container gardens!

I’ve been super impressed with the Patio Snacker cucumber plant growing in a large container garden on my deck this year. It has been growing so well and producing lots of nicely sized cucumbers with little to no problems experienced thus far.

Patio Snacker Cucumber in #containergarden

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

I sold many of these plants in May at my Container Garden Workshops and some at early Farmers Markets, and I hope my attendees are having similar success with their plants.

This cucumber plant is designed for containers, which is why I selected them from my grower’s list.

It stay short and vines, but not too aggressively. With a small wooden trellis or typical cone-shaped metal tomato cage, it stays in place.

With mine, I used a tomato cage, but later, as I witness the little tendrils trying to grab onto things, I strung up some twine from the trellis to my gutters. It won’t grow up that high, but it has moved along the twine.

It is a fast grower and started offering crunchy cukes early in the season – so, I was pleased as they started to grow from the flowers. I have been harvesting about 1 to 2 cukes daily from the plant, which I share with my husband. The skin is very dark green and a little firm but not tough.

Patio Snacker Cucumber from a #containergarden

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

As for watering, I water it well every morning, as I do with my tomato plant. When I say well, I hold that watering wand over the soil for a good while, letting the water seep into the soil and get down in there – it is hard to explain how long, but I’m sure I put a minimum of two gallons of water via the hose and probably even more than that for these two plants – they soak up the moisture every day – you can tell if not watered enough when the tips of the plants’ stems weep in the late afternoon.

Last nite, my husband almost gobbled a cuke down before I had the chance to tell him I wanted to combine it with my freshy grown sprouts and fresh tomatoes.

Unlike the cucumber and tomatoe plant, which are growing in big pot outdoors, the sprouts are grown inside the home – so I’m looking forward to growing sprouts year round, even in winter.

Tomato ‘Juliet’

Another container candidate which has impressed me greatly is Tomato ‘Juliet’ which I obtained from a Connecticut wholesale grower for my May workshops.

It has been growing beautifully on my deck in a large container (22″ in diameter, about 2 ft deep – same size as the cuke’s pot) since late May.

When people come over, they are stunned at the amount of green tomoatoes I have on the plant and its shear size. It is a monster now.

The clusters of plum or roma shaped tomatoes are ripening up now here and there – and again, shared with my husband.

Picked today practically perfect. #edibles #tomatoes Juliet in #containercrazyct

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

It was funny when we spotted the first ripened one, which I offered it to him, but he actually cut it in half for us to share – very sweet of him.

The tomatoes are clustered on the plant and are about twice as large as typical grape tomato as for the size of each of them.

I’ve fertilized the plant about twice with fast acting liquid tomato plant food (soluble mixed in water) but other than growing it in a large pot (which I always recommend at my workshops), providing good healthy, well-draining soilless mix specifically for container gardens with ‘some compost’ added, slow release fertilizer at the time of planting, and “daily” good soaking of watering in summer, that is all I’ve done.

So many on this plant! #tomatoejuliet #containercrazyct #containergardening #containergarden

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

What I particularly like, besides the size of this indeterminate (always growing up) tomato plant, is the plum tomatoes are perfect. I mean perfect. There isn’t a blemish on them, they are firm and very tasty.

Tomato ‘Juliet’ was noted as an “All American Selections winner” on the plant tags, and I would say, it deserves this award. It has been easy to grow and is perfect for container gardening. Glad I selected it this year – and it will go on the “keeper’s list.”

Soil Sprouted Greens

Over the past couple months, or I should say in early spring, and now again in late summer, I’ve been testing out the process of growing soil sprouts.

This is different than how you grow micro-greens – My sprouts are not grown in jars, but in small trays, and take only 5-7 days from start to eating, as compared to micro-greens which I hear and read take about 20 days or so.

There are lots of benefits to growing sprouts this way, which I plan to thoroughly go over in my workshop on the process, but let’s just say I’m hooked.

The flavor varies by type of seed used, and some are bitter, hot and spicey, or mixed and sightly mild flavored – but I do know this – they are wonderful as a salad, in a salad mix with fresh lettuce, as a topping to sandwich meats, and in soups!

They are simple to grow and you can have them available – fresh every day. My goal is to set up the workshop so you have a “kit” to get started, learn every step and the key information about the sprouts and why they healthy and what not to do too so you are successful, etc.

This is the first time I’ve grown them, and sometimes I think – wow, I didn’t realize I would like them so much, and luckily, my husband loves the sprouts too! He asks me now, when are you doing another batch?!

Growing Soil Sprouts Workshop

The workshop on this will be held in November and is noted on my www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site. Please sign up if you are interested so we can gauge the amount of supplies we will need. Looking forward to having you join us!

Sun Brew Tea Jar

Lastly, I got into a cute project yesterday – brewing tea in a mason jar. I twined up a jar with flexible soft wire tie material used in gardening and filled the jar with cut up lemons, fresh mint from my container, a dash of honey, and voila! It stayed in the sun for two hours which was plenty of time to infuse the flavors for pouring over ice.

Tea sun jar. Yumm. #mint #tea

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

It was the perfect companion to our mixed sprouts salad with fresh tomatoes and cuke, and some cheese from last Saturday’s Farmers Market in Ellington. It all made me look a lot healthier than I am – LOL, we loved it.

Happy Thursday Everyone – Friday’s Coming!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

My veggie jungle this year. July 2016. #containergardening #edibles

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

This blog is all about sharing the passion of growing in container gardens and patio pots – and this includes edibles!🙂

 

 

A Very Hot Farmers’ Market Day

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Good Morning Everyone,

Thank you to friends visiting me at the Windsor Locks Farmers Market last night, especially because it was so hot out – I think up to 92-95 degrees during the late afternoon hours.

It was a time when my face turned ‘beet’ red after setting up my table. Fortunately, there is the library next to the market grounds where I could take a minute to cool off before visitors arrived. I show up a bit early so I could move slower with this heat – it can be brutal as I unload all my tables, plants, and umbrellas.

Many people attend this farmers’ market regularly, held on Tuesdays from 4-7 pm in Windsor Locks (at their public library on Main Street), because of the veggies. And I have to say, I have become a fan of it too. Plus they have various crafters, hand-made doggy toys, local honey, and bakery items.

Towards the end of the market hours, I go get my supply of veggies for the week. One couple selling also had refreshing cucumber water with mint for us to cool off – much needed last night especially. This week, I picked up a bag of mixed onions, golden grape tomatoes, and kale. Last week, it was green and purple beans, garlic, big onions, and bakery items. They have a mix every week, some herbs, squash, etc. Lots of goodies!

At my table, where I am known as the “Container Lady,” I showed visitors my radish and broccoli home grown sprouts so they can see what they look like and discussed my upcoming workshop on “Growing Sprouts” to be held in November. All the details are on my WORKSHOPSCT.com site. They are so tasty and nutrient rich and easy to grow  in only 5-7 days, once you have the ‘know-how’ and ‘tools.’

Also, I brought along alpine and rock garden plants and talked about how these are great in rock gardens, along edges, in-between flag stones, and beautiful in fun container gardens and small pots too. Many of these plants are drought tolerant and bloom dainty flowers. Most of them are low-growing, only a few inches from the ground, but they are easy to grow and hardy here. Over time, the spread and get larger.

My healthy Greek oregano window boxes, which I’ve had for sale each week, are popular. I’m almost out of them – They are so full and fresh. I love putting oregano with pasta, feta cheese, and fresh tomatoes. Having these herbs in small window boxes are perfect.

Each herb window boxes are filled with quality soil-less mix, slow-release fertilize and have excellent drainage, perfect to take home and put on your deck to snip from all summer into fall – or put in the home by a window. And very reasonably priced – so swing by – there are almost gone. I will be back next week while supplies last.

I also have some various succulents, and displays of other creative container items each week, such as large glass terrariums filled with miniature plants and decor, or hypertufa pots with a wonderful mix of succulents.

And of course, my father’s popular birdhouses made with reclaimed wood and shingles – all hand painted. They are selling there – and some people are returning for more to add to their gardens and landscape. It is a great time to get these and enjoy them before summer is over!

My imagination is running wild each week, as I enjoy sharing creations with visitors at this market. While it was super hot yesterday afternoon, and hard to go if you would have preferred to be by the pool or in the A/C, keep it in mind as the upcoming weeks approach.

And, oh, they have music some nights, and free yoga too on select days. Don’t miss out, especially when this heat breaks.

Location Information:

http://www.windsorlockslibrary.org/
Windsor Locks Public Library
28 Main St, Windsor Locks, CT 06096

If coming from East Windsor, go over the Windsor Locks bridge, take a left, the library is immediately on your right (before the little shoppping plaza). You won’t see the farmers’ market tents from the entrance, they are located in the back grassy area by the library building. Plenty of parking.

Facebook Windsor Locks Farmers’ Market Page:

https://www.facebook.com/Windsor-Locks-Farmers-Market-218475995188619/

Hours:

Every Tuesday
4 pm to 7 pm
Thru end of September (I believe!)

Photos:

Here are some photos from last night.

#containercrazyct #farmersmarket #workshops

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#succulents #alpines #farmersmarket #containercrazyct #birdhouses

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

#containercrazyct #farmersmarket #alpines #succulents

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

My #farmersmarket table tonight. #sprouts

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Super hot but I'm here at the #farmersmarket

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

A blog about sharing the passion of Container Gardening and combining Nature with Art. Thank you for visiting! Come back soon or “follow this blog” to receive notices of when each new post is added. We are located in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, CT.

Bugs, Drought, and Out and About

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Hello Everybody!

Yes! The heat has “officially arrived” in Connecticut and I’m sure you have noticed how your plants react. They may be stressed from lack of watering – or under attack by insects.

For starters, you may have seen more critters eating foliage or even flowers this time of year. My method for dealing with this is watching and looking over my plants as I water them, a daily routine. Inspect first and identify the problem when you are out and about.

Good morning caterpillar. #insects #bugs #caterpillar

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Just recently, I spotted an amazing caterpillar on an elderberry plant and it is eating the foliage daily, but you know what? I decided to let him be because it appears he will turn into a beautiful and large silk moth per my research. See my Facebook posts or Instagram feed for photos of him. However, if he tries to move to other containers, he may be a goner. I hope he will stay where he is on this plant. I have been taking photos daily.

#caterpillar

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

I also spotted but holes in my rhubarb plant – this bummed me out more because my rhubarb in my big pot is spectacular. I LOVE the large showy leaves, reaching at least 12″ in size, but an easy method to dealing with the damage, clip them all off cause new growth arises on this plant continually – and so, I did the BIG haircut on it yesterday. I have not been able to “see” the problem insects yet on this plant – so, not sure it is Japanese beetles- out this time of year, or if another culprit. If you can’t find the bug on damaged foliage, try looking at night. It could be a night visitor.

Black Diamond elephant's ear. #containergarden #colocasia

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

As far as Japanese beetles, they definitely have been on my Canna plants in one spot, ugh. I hate that – I see them and their damage, so I will probably do the same routine as the rhubarb, and not reach for the spray but be patient because they do not stay all summer. Just cut off the damaged leaves and hope for improvement. Try to stay patient.

A woodpecker did this. Canna seed pods. #birds

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

One day, I spotted woodpecker pecking at the round spiny pods of my Canna plant. He left some large holes in it – and he was either after something in the pods perhaps, or he was just confused. I have a big sunflower right next to it and they were visiting the flower head for the seeds.

Anyhow, my main thing is to try to determine which insect (or animal) it is before proceeding with steps to remove them or deal with them with sprays. This year has been critter month. We have many chipmunks this year – I’ve seen posts by friends on Facebook too of this problem. They even broke down a rock wall at my neighbor’s property, they are everywhere. I found one in our cloths dryer vent – one day, a scratching noise was happening as I was loading, and thought – what is that?! Well, yup – the poor chipmunk somehow made he was down the tube and got trapped. Yuck.

This time of year, especially with the heat on the rise, will encourage more insects. I also believe, the more plants you have, the more visitors you get! Shake the leaves to see if anything falls off, look at the underside of the leaves if you see holes or round specks of foliage damage, and look inside the plants, meaning push the stems or leaves aside and look into the plant’s areas if you have a full container garden with plants with problems. I did this the other day and found two snails. If you have a very badly infested plant in your container, cut it all the way back to the base – many will regrow from the base with new fresh growth. Toss the infected plant parts into the trash.

Don't like that yellow leaf! #containergarden #enseteventricosum #ensetemaurellii

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Another issue is yellowing on my red banana plants – ugh. I have been trying to really narrow this down – was it the new compost I used this season? (which I was told is organically certified), is it a lack of nutrition – when these plants show signs of weakness, you may want to start adding fast release soluble fertilizer weekly – but usually, when I have good soilless mix, a big pot (like this one above), some good compost – I don’t get this yellowing I’ve experienced here in this photo – which is a 5-6 year plant I put out every year. Perhaps it is STRESS of no rainfall – which we have not received much of – note the dry grass everywhere. Or it could be “too much watering” because the compost may have reduced the drainage ability in the soil, so I cut the yellowing leaf off, reduced my watering in this case to every other day, and so far, no more yellowing. But rest assured, I keep investigating these issues – and I’m testing out new products this year which I will share at my container gardening workshops in May of 2017 with my attendees.

See the bit of asparagus poking out of the foliage of this mixed container garden, the other day I found tiny black caterpillars on it – so I just cut those stems off. Haven’t seen them since. This container has repeat ‘plants’ in it. The blue flowering Ceratostigma (Hardy Plumbago) is a perennial and it has been in this pot for 3 years now. Talk about a nice filler. And the Colocasia is also one which I had overwintered and it is getting really full now.

Little #beetle on Coleus 'The Line' #insectdamage

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

I also noticed some plants in my landscape with a bit of yellow tones and stressed looking – and it can be a sign of struggle due to lack of rainfall. At least, this is my suspicion. Plants and gardening always keeps you challenged, learning and finding solutions. This year’s challenge has been managing insects and learning about new fertilizers.

FOAM PUMP FERTILIZER

For example, there is a new fertilizer on the market that is a foam pump. You just pump and put it on the soil next to the plant, and then water it in. I tried it out on succulents – and the color on my succulents improved within a week. However, I read “stress” can induce color changes in succulents but the timing was too near the application. I think the fertilizer improved the growth on these right away. Notice this photo, even the Jade plant got red edging on the trim of the leaves. The pumps are cool cause they are easy to apply and measure – reminds me of pumps of hair foam styling products! Read the directions always when using fertilizers or insect sprays, and remember to follow them appropriate. Less is more in some cases, overdoing applications can harm your plants.

#succulents

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

Again, I will be sharing all the products I’ve tested out this year at next year’s workshop. There are many new items out there – including new organic types. I also show and tell products at the farmers markets each week.

NEW WORKSHOPS ADDED

Speaking of workshops, I just updated my WORKSHOPSCT.com blogsite with a Soil Sprouts class, and I will be sharing this information tonight at the Windsor Locks Farmers’ Market at the town’s public library located on Main Street. The market is held every Tuesday from 4 to 7 pm on the lawn in the back area of the library. I’ve really enjoyed being there the past couple weeks, and will be there again next week too.

For tonight’s market, I will be selling some alpine plants, great for rock gardens, crevices, and may be used to cascade over walls, and in rock garden scenes of unique container gardens. Sedum ‘Coral Carpet’ is one of the plants I will have available – this is great in rock gardens, and they are very drought tolerant – great for this type of weather we are experiencing, and also a beauty in hanging succulent balls – which is a new creation this season. And a new workshop for next year too!

Succulent ball I put together a few weeks ago. #succulents #delosperma #hensandchicks

A photo posted by Cathy Testa (@cathytesta) on

I mentioned drought in the title of this post – because it seems we are experiencing one – the water is low in our rivers, the plants are not getting much natural rainfall, and this can be rough on plants. I’ve been watering my plants in my container gardens daily, sometimes twice, but remember – don’t water log your soils, allow it to breath between watering, and do the finger test if you are unsure. Insert to your knuckle to see if the soil feels moist or dry and observe your plants habits and look for insects, of course.

Enjoy your day everyone!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showing Progress on Plant Growth in Pots

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It is a big thrill for me when a container gardening workshop attendee shoots over a photo of how their container garden is doing since assembly at Container Crazy CT’s May Workshops.

Sometimes, they will post a picture on Facebook for me, or I may happen to be visiting them at their home this summer, which was the case with friend and relative, Renee, on Saturday for her 4th of July event.

The very first thing I saw was her big pot on her driveway situated between the garage doors, and it looks amazing!

WINNER SFF_0007

Texture, texture, texture

Just look at how all the textures and contrasts are working in this arrangement – I love this type of look. It is dramatic, lush, and showy.

I was especially happy to see it doing so well because on her way home from the workshop, she texted me to say she made it almost all the way home, but took a corner and her pot fell over in her car!

“Oh No,” I thought! “This can’t happen.”

Of course, mental note – make sure every attendee secures their big pot in the future before they head out the driveway. We don’t want that to ever happen again.

Although I offered some replacements, Renee decided to take the ‘wait and see’ approach – and well, it paid off!

WINNER SFF_0009

Cynara cardunculus (Cardoon)

First of all, her Cardoon plant, well, just look at it! It is doing very well – and this plant isn’t always easy to grow. It is a plant hardy to Zones 7-11 and loves full sun, and because the foliage is serrated and has silver to gray green prickly stems, it adds that amazing texture.

I grew one of these in a urn by itself one year, and it was dramatic because it arched over the edges and stood tall at the same time. So it does well solo too.

This plant will sometimes move its leaves up in a praying motion at night. It can grow to six feet tall. Imaging it praying in the evenings.

I am very happy Renee did well with it – and she noted, the prickly stems have gotten her from time to time when watering. She did watch the plant and saw insects at one point, but she kept on it with organic pray and it was resolved.

WINNER SFF_0008

Pennisetum ‘First Knight’ (Fountain Grass)

This fountain grass, hardy to Zones 8-11, is one of the darkest around, and largest. It grows up to 54″ tall, but what I really really love is how it contrasts with the Cardoon’s silvery ghost like color and texture.

Fine next to coarse, remember that rule, attendees?! Great example. Renee picked the right type of candidates to go together. This fountain grass is a full sun to part sun lover and deer resistant should you have deer in your yard, which I doubt would here but it is good to know. I’m glad I had these offered at the May Workshops on Container Gardening.

WINNER SFF_0012

Perilla (Chinese Basil)

I always like to add new candidates to the plant list for the workshops, and this one was new to me. Selected because of its dark color – useful for designs and adding contrast – but also because it seemed interesting for flavor – and has aromatic foliage. It grows quickly, but one gardener warned me, it can pop-up in your garden beds if used in the garden – which I did not know. It is native to the Himalayas to Southeast Asia and a relative to Basil and Coleus. When you see how large the leaves grow – it doesn’t surprise me it is related to Coleus. But what this plant accomplished in Renee’s design is the repeating and echoing of a dark tones from the fountain grass. Well-done.

Pelargonium (Scented Geraniums)

Tucked in the right corner showing some of the green colors is a scented Geranium, called ‘Lemon Fizz’ – and it is amazing when you touch the leaves, it really gives off a lemon scent. It will bloom pretty pink flowers soon. Because our workshop included edibles and medicinal plants – this was a nice touch – because, in my opinion, anytime you smell a wonderful scent – it IS therapeutic.

WINNER SFF_0013

Also, another attendee, Joyce, sent a photo (above) and said she loves her pot and all was going well, along with Kathy, who sent a photo of her face next to a red banana leaf with a photo of her pot as well. Love seeing when the plants are looking healthy with no issues.

Joyce kept saying at the workshop – “I don’t know what I’m doing.” – Well, I think she did cause just look at it. I remember insisting she add “slow release fertilizer” because she wanted to skip this step at first even though we had discussed the whys during my presentation, but I bet she is glad now she did that step. She also included the Pennisetum ‘First Knight’ – I like how it intermingles between the other plants in her big pot.

WINNER SFF_0014

Both of them used the red banana plant (Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’) for Zones 9-10 which is very showy. By the end of summer, it will be probably 3 times the size it is now! And these plants may be overwintered to reuse each season, shown in my fall workshop (see list below). Kathy, shown above, is very happy with her red banana plant, and she also purchased a couple Bajoo (green) banana plants and put them in her front bed – she said all are doing very well. Kathy is an experienced gardener and has that “green thumb” in my opinion – I am not surprised she is taking good care of her candidates at home.

Some Plant Issues

However, there were some people with some plant issues. Unfortunately, the Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco) with star like deep purple flowers, got a particular bug problem on a few people’s plants, so I advised them to cut it down completely leaving just the base – and I witnessed one attendee’s a few weeks after this cutting back – it grew back beautifully, so that worked, however, I think I’ll skip that plant in the future. It tended to topple a bit as it got larger in addition to getting an insect problem on some. Plus, the flowers when spent, stick to the plant and requiring a bit of grooming.

Also, some people had concerns with their red banana plant. We did have cool nights there for a while which these tropical plants don’t enjoy cool that much, and I thought, this could be why they didn’t perform well in some cases, but I am not totally sure.

It also could be watering routines (over or under watering) – or even winds – which it is natural for a banana plant leaves to tear in wind. This happens in the tropics during rainstorms, etc. If the plant was neglected from not enough watering, it can get stressed and not recovery quickly. I usually don’t experience many problems with the red bananas however, so I was a little stumped as to why some did very well, and others struggled. Always something to learn about and investigate.

The leaves of the red banana plants should not be fully yellow or suffering too much now with our warm temps. I recommend, if you are still having an issue with this plant, give it a boost of liquid fertilizer. Call me with questions if you have concerns. We can go over what to do next, but I am hopefully they are doing better by now.

Other than these two plants of the many we had available at the workshops, I think everyone seems happy, so that is great news. I care on how your plants do – so let me know, or send a pic!

Additionally, it is not uncommon to see aphids or other troublesome insects this time of year – so scout your plants, look at the under sides of the leaves too if you see any holes or damage, or even tap the leaves, to see if any bugs fall out. This is a way to check them.

East Windsor Farmers Market, Sunday, July 1oth

Up next is the East Windsor Farmers Market at the Trolley Museum off Rt. 140. This market is growing – try to pop in. As usual, I plan to give a free talk on container gardening tips. I will have lots of elephant ears (Colocasias ‘Blue Hawaii’, ‘Diamond Head’, ‘Maui Magic’, and ‘Black Magic’ cultivars), succulents (Hens and Chicks), Delospermas, and still have beautiful herbs, such as Greek Oregano. The prices will be reduced as well. Additionally, I plan to bring my beautiful hanging baskets of Begonias (‘Gryphon’ and ‘Dragon Wing Pink’). Hope to see you there on Sunday.

Windsor Locks Farmers Market, Tuesday, July 12th

I attended this market for the first time – and wow, I met some wonderful local people – so I will be back on Tuesday of next week. This market is held on a weekday which is a nice option. Many people pop in after work to get some fresh veggies for dinner. It is held in the back area of the town’s library off Main Street. If you see a dancing carrot – That is the market master waving people over. You won’t see the tents from the road, so drive into the library, and look for us by the back parking lot. Last week, free yoga was offered – how nice! They have fresh veggies, nice candle products with oils, local honey, and more.

New Workshops Coming Up

We have 3 new workshops on the horizon. The Glass Garden Art Workshop with Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie – We will be using wine bottles! Then after this – we are offering a Succulent Arrangement Workshop in October, followed by a new workshop on Growing Nutritious Soil Spouts in early November! Be sure to check them all out via our new blogsite called, www.WORKSHOPSCT.com, where you may register online if interested and will find all the details. We hope you will join us.

Workshop Flyer July 2016 Latest

Summer, Summer, Summer

Everyone is kicked into summer activities by now – including me – Don’t let it slip away without making sure to enjoy every moment possible. I know this – I enjoy summer more “BECAUSE OF” my plants and container gardens on my deck.

I love sitting among my potted plants and admiring all as I read a mag after taking a dip in the pool, or hanging with friends. Watering is even more critical now because of our heat wave this week, and because – well, it is summer.

Tomatoe plants drink a lot of water, so if you potted some up in May, be sure to check them in the afternoon after watering in the mornings. If dry, give them more! Also, remember, let soil dry a bit between watering. Don’t water-log your containers, but watch the plants. If they are limpy looking by day’s end – they may be crying for moisture.

My ‘Patio Snacker’ Cucumber plant, which all sold in May at my workshops and farmers market offerings, is doing fantastic in my big pot (22″ in diameter) on the deck. Of course, I kept one plant for myself – It grows a new cucumber every other day or so now – LOVE it. It is perfect for pots – and I think that will be a keeper on my plant ordering list.

Also, my tomato plant in a pot is going gangbusters. I planted the ‘Juliet’ which small plum shaped tomatoes in clusters on the branches. There are lots of tomatoes on it  right now in the green stages – I can’t wait to see them ripen. I sold several varieties of tomato plants in May, and I hope your’s is doing well also. If want to see photos of these, search Container Crazy CT on Facebook to find me or click the links on this blog to your right.

Enjoy your week everyone!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com

P.S. See my Pinterest boards on Plant Care – Important this time of year, there are many tips there.

 

 

Cool nights, Ants, and Plant Care Updates

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Updates on workshops, some plant care tips – and ants!

Floral Design Workshop Cancelled this Month:

First, the Floral Design Workshop for this month (June 25th) has been cancelled. We had low sign-ups and needed a minimum to proceed. However, we will offer this workshop again in February 2017 as the Valentine’s Day option because that was very popular this past February. See our workshops blogsite, WORKSHOPSCT.com, for more information.

Mini Workshop on Hanging Succulent Balls tomorrow:

Second, I am offering a mini first time workshop on making a “Hanging Succulent Ball” tomorrow at 5 pm, June 7th. If interested, contact me on cost and details. We have beautiful Chick Charm succulents, more perennial cacti-like and succulents for this creative project, and hanging dripping succulents, such as Delospermas which look beautiful on these balls.

While many places will make these balls using strictly moss balls (with no soil) which need to be misted regularly to keep the succulents alive, I don’t feel this would keep the plants growing over the long haul, so we are making ours with soil filled in fiber balls and contained in hanging wire baskets. It is not an easy project, but we have all the steps and parts prepared for anyone willing to give this project a try for the first time here at Container Crazy CT’s.

We will show our results too. Again, if interested, contact me soon at 860-977-9473 (text or call) or email containercathy@gmail.com.

Plants Available Here for You:

Third, if you are local and still in need of plants, feel free to contact me as well. I have a few goodies left in my stock, such as lemon thyme, red and green banana plants, elephant ears, pepper plants, succulents, greek oregano, basil, chives, fuschia, creeping Jenny, more perennials, etc. There are a few blueberry dwarf shrubs available, go-ji berry shrubs, and Sambucas elderberry (great for jam making).

Also, I will be at the East Windsor Farmers Market on July 10th. It is located at the Trolley Museum grounds, off Rt 140. Their opening day is at the end of the month on June 26th.

Ants in Pots

I potted up two huge container gardens this past weekend and the next day, noticed tiny ants in one of the pots. They found it fast.

Hmmm, I thought – “What brought them here?” – I believe they were in the ground (area is very dry where I put one pot) and they found the moisture. Tiny little ants were running around the top of the soil. It was my niece who was here this weekend whom noticed them first – and pointed it out to me.

Ants don’t harm your plants per se, but we don’t like them crawling around much either, especially if in a potted house plant. No need to have those ants in the house.

Also, ants are friends with aphids and hang around them due to their desirable honey dew which is secreted from their aphid butts! If you see ants in your container gardens, check for aphids which are sucking insects themselves, but they suck the life from your plants and are not a good thing/bug. Many are green and visible if you look closely and they come in other colors too!

Investigate to see if you see any of the tiny aphids on your plants (and especially check the underside of leaves) to make sure that is not the reason ants are hanging around.

I use insecticidal soap by Garden Safe if I see aphids on a plant, and it takes care of the problem immediately. It is important to resolve the bad bugs right away, and when you water your plants, that is a good time to be Inspector Clouseau and look at them closely for any harmful bugs.

Another option, if you see aphids on a part of a plant, is to just cut that part of the plant off if doable with clean pruners, and toss it away somewhere far from your container gardens.

At first I thought maybe the compost I used in the soilless mix was the culprit for these tiny ants appearing, but it was not the case as I used the same compost in another huge pots – no ants there.

You can ignore the ants if you wish or there are several methods to take care of them. Here’s one article with ideas from Gardening Know How:

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/ants-in-flower-pots.htm

Cool Nights Slows Growth of Tropicals

Have you noticed the recent cool nights we have experienced? It is a welcome feeling through our windows and enjoyable during the evenings when we are sleeping, but this will slow down the growth of tropical lovers just a bit, such as the elephant ears (Colocasias).

A couple people have commented on this (the elephant ears not being big yet) – be patient, after a few warm temperature days over the course of a couple weeks, your Colocasias will take off. You probably have seen how large they grew in my photos of past container gardens, but remember, this was after a few weeks of summer as well.

For example, I noticed my plants of Begonias really pop recently in my pots, while the elephant ears are slowly pushing out new leaves, taking longer. You can sense when a plant has taken root, it perks up and you can see it expand in size if you pay attention.

Elephant ears and other tropical plants need warm evenings too – so we will see them really rise fast when our summer fully kicks in, and the soil is warm at night.

Also, a couple people said they were concerned about yellow leaves on their banana plant – this can be a sign of over watering – especially if the yellowing is on the lower leaves. Just cut them off with a clean pair of scissors or pruners. New leaves arise from the center of the plants, so taking one or two off the bottom is not harmful. And reduce your watering if you see yellowing leaves on the lower part of your plants.

Red Banana Plant Care Info:

Red banana plants sometimes have brown on their leaves. There are several causes for this – I believe it is when moisture is trapped in the center of its thick trunk like stalk called a pseudostem (this is the trunk basically that is very fleshy and contains moisture in between each new leaf), and it can make a brown spot there as it unrolls from the center if it stays too wet. Usually, this is temporary and as summer gets the plant going, this minor symptom disappears. If you have well-draining soil, you won’t see this problem much, why soil draining is critical in most container gardening situations.

As I’ve discussed during my workshops this May, watering your plants is a balancing act, and too much can cause problems as well as too little. Water logging the soil is not a good thing either – You should allow moist soil to dry out between watering somewhat so the roots get the oxygen needed to survive. The type of plant matters as well as the type of pot but once you get familiar with their needs and create this balance, all is perfect.

Also, if you move your plants from a greenhouse or from inside the home into the sun immediately, that will cause sunburn on the leaves (white patches usually), as also reviewed in our May Container Gardening workshops. Most of you know to move your finished container garden into the shade first before transitioning it to full sun if you potted up sun lovers for plants which were not hardened off previously at home or by your nursery sources.

Red banana plants (Ensete genus) seem to do great in dappled shade (when under over head tall trees or a patio umbrella) as it casts some shade but they are getting sun. However, they are okay in full sun, but you have to water more often, etc. So if you see your leaves suffering, change the position of the pot if possible to more shade for this plant if you feel it may be getting too much sun.

Lastly, the cool damp temps and returns back to full hot sun and heat will sometimes stress tropical plants which may create brown areas on red banana plants leaves – and that is what we had the past few days for weather patterns.

See this Banana Plant Care link for more information. Overall, I feel these plants are easy to care for, grow quickly, and in most cases, don’t show problems, but it is worthy to note here if you have any concerns. Don’t panick, think about the weather patterns, watering patterns and exposure first. Or contact me and send me a photo.

Otherwise, all seems to be progressing well based on emails and comments from attendees. Many have written to say they are happy with their container gardens and beautiful plants, and are enjoying them – all good news.🙂 And many have been going container crazy, like me. Welcome to the club!😉

Please Share Your Container Photos

I would absolutely love to see the progress of your plants, so if you can shoot me a photo, please do so. I will be sharing mine, as always on Instagram and Facebook.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com
http://www.CONTAINERGARDENSCT.com

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Ellington Farmers Market invites Container Crazy Cathy T

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Good Morning Everyone!

We had wonderful warmth and sun yesterday, and a nice rainfall is happening today which is providing everyone the perfect “setup” for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend – when many people start to plant their vegetable plants in their gardens – and of course, in container gardens and patio pots!

Most gardeners follow the rule of planting on Memorial Day because we are finally safe from frost and the soil is warmed up for our warm loving plants. This is especially true this year because of the our cool spring. Everyone is anxious – including our plants.

EFM Black Pepper Better Image

BEAUTIFUL BLACK PEARL PEPPER PLANTS – WONDERFUL IN MIXED CONTAINER GARDENS

Edibles and Fruiting Shrubs in Container Gardens

Thus – This weekend’s free talk on “Edibles and Fruiting Shrubs” in Container Gardens at Ellington Farmers Market is perfect timing. I will be at the big “square” gazebo (there are two gazebos on the site) from 9:00 am to Noon – and the talk will begin at 10:00 am.

I plan to go over tips on how to use fruiting shrubs in patio pots and also planting mixed container gardens with herbs and other wonderful various plants.

Thyme, pepper plants, tomatoes plants, banana plants, mint, fennel, oregano, rhubarb, Goji shrubs, blueberry shrubs, Sambucas Elderberries, cucumber, and many more will be available for purchase too. Will have select tropical thrillers and some flowering perennials and even succulents.

Don’t miss out – now is the time to grab them while they are hot.

EFF Blueberry Pot

Location of Ellington Farmers Market:

Arbor Park
Arbor Park is located Main Street in the heart of town. Arbor Park offers a safe area to walk. The Farmer’s Market is held in the park on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to Noon.

EFM Lemon Thyme

HEALTHY AND HAPPY LEMON THYME – FILLERS IN POTS – AND SNIP AWAY!

DIRECTIONS

1-84. Get off exit 66; proceed up the road towards rt. 30; turn right onto rt. 30; take immediate left onto west road (Vernon police dept. on your left).  Follow past Garden Barn, Walgreens, and Big Y.  Turn left onto Main Street (Light where Kloter Farms and Valero are located) Arbor Park is about 1/2 mile down the road on the right.
From Broad Brook Area – Take 140 to Ellington Center, get to Main Street and you will see the park on your left before Kloter Farms. There are signs indicating where to go for parking which is located in the back area of the market grounds. The big square gazebo is on the street side where the talk will begin promptly at 10 am.
Hope to see you there! 
Cathy Testa
Check Out Cathy T’s Feature in GoLocal’s May Issue
EFM Pepper Flowers

Pepper Plants in Flower – Ready to plant and produce for you!

Strong Family Farm Hosts Today’s Workshop

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How much fun can a gal have?! I have the wonderful opportunity to teach at Strong Family Farm in Vernon, CT today and I would like to thank Nancy Strong in advance for her support of local businesses such as myself.

“Strong Family Farm provides a historic agricultural education center where children, individuals, families, and community groups can experience an authentic family farm environment.”

This above statement is from their website. I have to say, I couldn’t agree more. It is an “authentic family farm” and historic. It reminds me of my childhood. Seeing the cow barn, where today’s Container Gardening Workshop will be held, brought back memories of being in my father’s barn and the scents, sounds, as well as the sun streaming through the cracks of the barn’s wall are all reminiscent of experiences I had growing up on a farm.

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Today’s Container Gardening Workshop

May 21, 2016 – Saturday
9:00 am to Noon
274 West St, Vernon, CT 06066

Lecture from 9:00-10:30 followed by potting up your containers.
Pre-registered attendees get first dibs on plants.
Walk-in’s for Plant Sales Welcome at 11:30 am.

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The Plants

Where do I begin? We have beautiful “Chick Charm” Hens and Chicks (Sempervivums), Cucumber plants, various Pepper plants, Tomatoes, Oregano, Thyme, Fennel, Stevia, Strawberry, Rhubarb, etc. We also have specialty shrubs perfect for containers, such as Blueberry and Goji Berry. And others for the fun of it – such as Sambucas (Elderberry). And of course, hot tropicals such as red banana plants (Ensete), Elephant Ears (Colocasia), and Cynara (Cardoon). Then there’s the annuals from beautiful Begonias to a mix of Coleus and much more.

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The Timing

I think this weekend is absolutely perfect timing too – We had a cool spring but looks like the warm up and sun is officially here! These plants are going to take off in the container gardens or in your gardens should you grab a few today at Strong Family Farm.

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The Prep

I wish I could video tape myself setting up and then do one of those speed up versions. Running from here to there to get hand-selected plants from “local CT growers only!” And running around setting up workshops – lifting tables, lifting big bags of potting mix, pushing a wheel barrel, bending up and down constantly – phew, but the exercise is great – cause you know, Gardening is GREAT for the body and soul.

The Fretting

They call me Container “Crazy” for a reason. The highs are high and the lows can be low – like when I lost two trays of basil – Why? – even with my grow room, our cool spring fluxes didn’t make them happy. But then a high again – a tree frog watching me work one day and chirping, or when the birds swoops overhead as I walk by, or seeing my first butterfly of the season visiting my honeysuckle shrub.

The Dedication is for Attendees

I do this all for my attendee and because I have a strong passion for dressing up outdoor spaces with mixed container garden plantings and patio pots. Caring for the plants, nurturing them – and yes, even talking to them – all takes place behind the scenes. Yup, crazy alright.

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After the Workshop – Attendees Get Details

After my workshops, I email each attendee individually to give them tips about the plants they selected. It may be information about how to prune a plant, its bloom cycle, habit or care. Anything I think will be useful to them. I am here to answer their questions after my workshops on plants in their container gardens or in their gardens at home too. It is one of the benefits of being on the NEWBIE or NON-NEWBIE Cathy T’s Workshops. I’ve been hosting these workshops for over 8 years – so there’s a lot to share.

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Upcoming – Ellington Farmer’s Market (5/28)

So, today will be another fun filled busy day. Then the following weekend, you will find me at the Ellington Farmer’s Market at their square gazebo (there are two gazebos on the site) where I will be offering a free talk and of course, offering more plants for sale. Pop in to say hello. The market is excellent. We bring a cooler and my husband walks around to fill it with fresh veggies, fruits, and fish while there – then we have a feast when we get home. Yumm. Taking clippings from my herbs for the grill cooking tops it off.

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Hope to See You

After today, the hammock in my backyard has my name written on it. You can find me there. But I hope to see you before, after, or later – Keep Checking In.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 – Feel Free to Text Me
containercathy@gmail.com
http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com

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Container Garden Design Winner

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It is the day after Container Crazy CT’s first container gardening workshop of the season and I’m excited to announced our Container Design Challenge Winner.

Congratulations to Stacey!

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There are several reasons why Stacey’s design was selected as the prize winner.

First, she used a different technique to structure her design than the typical T-S-F discussed in class, where she put her big Ensete (red banana plant) thriller to the back side rather in the center of the pot.

Second, she correctly divided a perennial which had a densely packed root system, as we also discussed during our presentation on things you should do with plants which are girdled or densely packed before planting them into your container gardens.

Additionally, she selected varied heights of her plants for balance, such as the perennial which will also bloom later in the season, and she incorporated different textures.

Stacey also added what I would say fits the “chiller” plant category also discussed in our workshop – The Oscularia deltoides. This new succulent definitely captures visual interest and has the additional advantage of serving as a ‘spiller’ when it will reach out over the pot’s edge as it grows.

Also, the chiller echoes the colors of the Coleus via it’s stems, AND echoes the colors of the base of her pot.

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Back side of Stacey’s Container Garden

And another bonus – Stacey’s pot was the “perfect size” – large enough based on my recommendations on sizes, and also beautiful.

She mentioned to me how she drilled her drainage holes in other pots at home and even gave me a tip on how to handle urns which can be tricky to add drainage holes to.

As I’ve said before – My attendees become experts and I start getting jealous of them – Great job Stacey!

Your prize is a terrarium – Contact me for pick-up! You may select one with a cow, rabbit, or cat decor. They are a $40 dollar value.

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Colorful Bunny in a Terrarium

A Close Second

Everyone does amazing jobs with their selections of plants for their container gardens – but we want to mention Ashley’s herb drawer. She was on a mission to create an herbal mix – and she added creative touches into her adorable herbal drawer. She brought along kitchen utensils and marked the herbs’ names on them and inserted them into the soil.

 By the way, my assistant, Amelie, whispered to me, “Ashley’s Mom is going to win.” – because her Mom, Wendy, incorporated butterfly decor in her pots, so Wendy, just want to let you know, Amelie was voting for you.

Speaking of assistants, I’d like to thank my husband, Steve. He worked in the yard before everyone arrived, then he assisted with carrying bags of soils, pots, and handled drilling. He went above and beyond – would you believe after everyone left – he had the energy to put away all the tables, chairs, and patio umbrellas which he also had put out early in the morning. Not sure where he got all that gusto but I can tell you this – he passed out on the couch the minute he put his feet up.

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Steve advises Joyce on the checkout procedure.

Upcoming Plant Care

Apparently, we may have a dip in temps – AGAIN! Wow, this spring is an odd one – so my advice is watch the weather forecast, and if it gets low, down to the low 4o’s or below – either move the pot to a sheltered place if possible, or very carefully cover the plants with a “light” bed type sheet – use poles to create a tee-pee if necessary. Remove the sheet as soon as the sun is up the next day. This is important for the tropicals in particular. Perennials are fine, and some annuals, but use caution. I hope after this last dip – we can relax and let our container gardens grow. Also, everyone was told to water in their containers as soon as they got home.

Thank you – Cathy Testa

Terrariums for Mother’s Day

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OK, I’m just gonna say it – This week’s weather was crapola! 10 degrees below normal, low clouds ALL week, cool, damp, raw, and wet. We are so looking forward to when the sun comes out to play – which is hopefully today.

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Terrariums for Mother’s Day

Today, from 10 am to noon, I will be offering terrariums for sale at Book Club Bookstore & More for Mother’s Day. When you consider this week’s weather, this actually turns out to be an excellent gift option for Moms because it is too cold to put some plants outside right now. It makes a wonderful centerpiece and is easy to care for – requiring very little watering, and with the unique decor of colorful barn animals, I think they came out just adorable.

Colorful Bunny in a Terrarium

Colorful Bunny in a Terrarium

Each one is layered like a cake with pea-sized gravel for drainage, activated horticulture charcoal to help improve drainage and keep the soil healthy, and well draining soil. Added are slow release prills to feed the plants for months, and of course the adorable, colorful animals as this go-around’s theme. I really enjoyed assembling them for this Pop-Up Event today.

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While in New Orleans for vacation, I spotted colorful wooden hand-painted animals at the French Market held on Sundays in the Quarter. I had to pick out a few with my terrariums in mind. They are so colorful and pop next to the mini-sized plants in the glass terrariums of different sizes – but note, supplies are limited, so if you would like one, come in to see us today at
100 Main Street, Broad Brook, CT 06016.

I’m happy the bookstore invited me again, as well as some other artsy vendors to participate – it is a fun way to spend the morning. There will be candles, other wine related art (can’t wait to see what it is), adult coloring books, and a featured author, etc. It may look like a small bookstore but it is packed with great books and I think I’ll bring a terrarium book along with me to show folks interested in this information.

Cute Cow in a Terrarium

Cute Cow in a Terrarium

Tulips

Last fall, I decided to plant 50 tulip bulbs in to my large cement planter which is a planter I like to do different things with and try out plants. They are purple (tall) and pink (short). They popped up before I went to NOLA and I thought, “Ooh darn! I hope I don’t miss the blooms.”

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Well, there are things I didn’t realize about tulips because I haven’t really planted them before to be honest – they last a LONG time, they enjoy the cool weather (which we had all week), and they close a bit every evening. I am IN LOVE with them.

They pop color from so many views (from my bathroom window, when I exit my basement, when I’m in the yard and can see them from a distance). They have been the sunshine during this cloudy week – the color is so vivid.

The only downfall was the darn squirrels. One day, I saw them with their heads buried into the soil and I yelled, “Hey GET AWAY from my tulips!! Arrr!”

To help reduce their munching visits, I scatted some hot pepper on the soil and that kept them away for a little while anyways. Next year, chicken wire will be laid over them to avoid that scenario, cause now I’m hooked. By the way, I dump my left over soil from the prior year’s container gardens into this cement planter – this why you see perlite in it, etc.

Go Local Magazine

It is finally issued and out in local stores – and friends have been spotting it. I’d like to thank Go Local for featuring me and other local artisans and small business owners. It was great meeting them and having their writer visit before I took off to New Orleans for the Jazz Fest weekend.

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Also, I want to point out – We made an error on the photos of me – The wrong photographer is noted. It was Karen Ladany of Debut Camera Co. who took the pro photos of me on my deck and by my red table shown in the magazine. I think my rush before vacation with lots of emails back and forth, and sharing several photographer’s work, caused an email mix up with the publisher and we both feel badly about that. Other photos in the issue were taken by their photographer as well.

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Debut Camera Co.

Karen’s photography style is one I absolutely love. She captured up-close flowers and the essence of many of my container gardens in a way is hard for me to describe, but my eyes see it. I have some of her photos on my www.WORKSHOPSCTS.com blog site as well – She took photos of my flowers, planters, containers, and even a wild turkey that decided to quickly strut by us as we were doing the photo shoot that day – and it was the hottest day of that summer. We were sweating but she was getting ready to move, and so I had to grab her services before she took off. She’s excellent.

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Enjoy Your Mother’s Day!!!

Cathy Testa

860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

“All About Container Gardening and Combining Nature with Art”

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