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


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



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

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Container Garden Design Winner


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


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.


Enjoy Your Mother’s Day!!!

Cathy Testa


“All About Container Gardening and Combining Nature with Art”

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