Always a Good Time at the Market

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Every time I speak at a farmers’ market, I have a great time interacting with the market goer’s either before or after my talk.

There is a positive vibe at markets – and I believe everyone attending is happy to be there.

Same goes for the vendors selling items and for me!

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After setting up my demonstration table and being interviewed by the Hartford Courant (which was a surprise for me), we visited some of the vendors to shop a bit.

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My niece, who often helps me at my talks and workshops, was drawn to the “Clear Mountain Alpacas” booth by the Garrow Family. They run a small family farm in Somers, CT and have beautiful hand-made products.

Later, after my demo, Steve, my husband, bought a pair of really nice long warm socks from them for himself, along with a nice pair of gloves for my niece. She was smiling!

We also stopped by Marie’s “Toes to Nose Soaps” booth and picked up lip balm in various scents from watermelon to chocolate mint. She was offering a buy two get one free on the lip balms – and her soaps are wonderful too.

My niece scored that day, but she deserved it after helping me with the rather large audience at my demonstration about growing your own immature greens, via an easy method in 5-7 days, which turned out to be a popular topic with the market goer’s.

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Before I was about to start my demo, I did a quick Facebook live video to show what else was being offered by the many vendors and show the crowd. It was a busy day – nice in winter to be surround by local offerings. We were lucky to not have bad weather.

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Starter Kits were available for sale after my demonstration so that interested attendees could get growing the minute they got home.

Starter Kit Orders

If were unable to attend on Saturday – just reach out by calling or texting 860-977-9473 or emailing containercathy@gmail.com if you are interested in a kit.

Special Note to Kit People: If you bought a kit on Saturday, I forgot to mention the compost already has the seaweed component in it. If you ended up getting a bottle of your own, it is fine if you added it in – won’t hurt it.

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Requesting the Demonstration

Additionally, if you have a venue where you would like to have me present this demo, please don’t hesitate to ask. One of the reasons I enjoy showing how to do this process is because it may be done year-round. It is a 365 day thing – you can do this any time, winter, spring, summer and fall. And it is easy – and fun. Not to mention extremely healthy; there are many benefits to eating these types of greens – and they sure beat potato chips as a snack.

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Plus you don’t need mason jars with my method of growing immature greens.

Here’s a sample I brought along of radish immature greens above, which happen to be one of my favorite to eat due to a subtle spicy kick – but there are so many to try. The list is endless. As I mentioned on Saturday – I started growing micro-greens because I enjoy the taste and because it is the perfect easy in-door gardening technique.

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Gift Cards Reminder

Gift cards to my upcoming workshops are available – great for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, or any special occasion. You may determine the dollar amount you wish to apply to the Gift Card for use at workshops. Please inquire if interested. More information is available on WorkshopsCT.com. We have many new topics this year.

Thank you Shout Out

Lastly, I want to say thank you again to the Ellington Market Master, Dianne, for inviting me to speak. Familiar faces I hadn’t seen in a while were there – along with many new faces and my regular attendees. It goes by very quickly but it is always a good time at the market.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (texts welcome)
Owner of “Cathy T’s Landscape Designs” and “Container Crazy CT”

A blog about container gardening, plants, and combining nature with art.

Upcoming:

Feb 8th – Down to Earth Garden Club, S. Windsor
Six Design Tips for Container Gardens

Feb 11th – Flower Arranging Workshop, Broad Brook
Guest Speakers: JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design

Mar 14th – Cherry Brook Garden Club, Canton
The Five Must Do’s for Container Gardens

Mar 11thBook Club Bookstore and More, Broad Brook
Six Design Tips for Container Gardens

Mar 18thBotanical Living Wall Art Workshop, Broad Brook
by Container Crazy CT

 

 

Milkweed Bugs, Roses, and Mushrooms

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T.G.I.F. Everybody,

As mentioned last Friday, I am posting misc pics from 2016 in the order of being downloaded to one massive folder.

Here’s this Friday’s set of 5:

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I left off on my prior post at the Scantic River in East Windsor, CT. During a nature walk there last year, we came across a stand of milkweed plants covered in brightly colored orange and black speckled bugs.

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It was covered with milkweed bugs. I thought, these little buggers are not in a garden – and I bet they are thankful for that because in gardens, people don’t enjoy critters.

It turns out these are not as big of a nuisance and may be left alone. They do not do major damage and stay for only a short time. Witnessing this was not for the type of people with creepy-crawly issues – there were tons of them moving about in the sun.

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My father bush-hogs this property from time to time so there are some areas which are wide open with miscellaneous native plants here and there.

Growing up on this property provided me with many opportunities to be curious about nature.

I remember opening up the pods of the milkweed to inspect the contents, always amazed by the fluffy material with brown seed heads. Blowing them into the wind after pulling them apart, and walking away with sticky fingers from the sap of the plant.

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The next photo is of a shelf-mushroom on a big tree we came across.

I don’t know much about mushrooms other than being aware that IF you wish to grow or harvest them, you must know about them because many are poisonous.

It appears it is enjoying its location on a damaged tree. You can see the bark is stripped away, and a big vine was wrapping around this tree. Mushrooms like decaying environments to sit upon.

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When we were getting back to my parents’ house from our walk by the river, I stopped by to smell my mother’s yellow roses.

She told me the name of this beautiful yellow one – and gosh, darn it – right now I can’t recall it. It was named after someone famous easily remembered too. Will have to call her later.

Yellow roses, as it turns out, happens to be one of my favorite colors of roses. When my husband gets me some for special occasions, he usually orders yellow.

Growing Greens at The Market:

And just a final reminder, I will be demonstrating growing micro-greens at the Ellington Farmers Market on January 28th (tomorrow) @ 2:30 pm in the children’s room which is adjacent to the vendors at 11 Pinney Street at the YMCA building.

The demo should be about 30 minutes followed by question/answer session. Starter Kits will be available for purchase at $15 each which includes sales tax. The kit contains seeds with the materials to get started right away at growing your own mini-greens at your home, however, a limited supply is available so it will be first come first serve.

It appears there will be a good turn out so if you wish to have a seat, visit the Facebook Event under Ellington Farmers Market page and click attending.

New Workshops for 2017:

They have been posted to www.WORKSHOPS.com.

Be sure to visit – we have many topics lined up.

Spring is in the air in January when it comes to pre-planning.

There are topics on Botanical Wall Art (new in March), Terrarium Bowls (new in April), Container Gardening (held annually in May), and more. It will be a fun-filled year.

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
Owner of Cathy T’s Landscape Designs and Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473 (texts are welcome!)
containercathy@gmail.com

“A blog about plants, container gardening, and combining nature with art.”

 

Photos, Photos, Photos!

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I do not know how professional photographers manage all the photo organization required for their work. It must take weeks!

Due to an issue with my iPhone recently, where photos were not downloading or deleting appropriately, I was scrolling through thousands of my photos the past couple days.

The good news is I think I fixed the download issue, but the process made me reminisce about the past year as I looked through batches of photos from 2016.

I thought it would be kind of neat to share a few at a time, indicating what was going on here.

I’m not going to change the order – so, here we go.

Batch #1 – Five Photos from 2016

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Oh yah – This is a beautiful mum, don’t you think?

Mums will return in pots – sometimes – after being stored in an unheated garage for the winter. I’ve had success with doing so – and basically, I cut off most of the top, roll it into the garage with my hand-truck in late fall, and give it moisture if it needs it. Most of the time, the moisture is in the pot when I roll it into the garage in late fall because the pot is so large and wet from rainfall. But I will check it and if looking bone dry, put snow on the top, if there’s snow!

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I took this shot too. Notice my red banana plant (Ensete) in the background on the right. As you can see, it is looking a little tattered as we approached the fall’s frost. But before this, this red banana plant was very happy in this spot which is the north-west corner of our house.

In the mornings, it is shaded, but as the day progresses, it gets sun but not extremely hot sun, and later in the day, as the evening approaches, it gets shade again.

Also in the background is a pot which has rhubarb (Victoria) and an elephant ear plant (Colocasia ‘Black Magic’). The elephant ear plant was really extravagant looking with bold, rich black leaves. But the rhubarb was “done” for the season. Before this stage, the leaves of the rhubarb were large and a great contrast to the dark elephant ears plant. I liked how the rhubarb’s leaves were ruffled too. It added a nice texture. Plus, these will overwinter pretty nicely in the big pots when the pots are moved into a protected location, like my garage or shed for the winter.

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During these photos, it was fall clean-up time. This shows 3 long window boxes which have oregano (left and right) and thyme in the middle. They were moved to my low-temperature greenhouse and are still doing quite well in the middle of winter.

Oregano is an excellent container garden plant because it stays contained, whereas in the garden, it is a spreader. It serves well as a spiller and filler in larger pots with mixed plants. I used it a great deal this past year for dishes during the summer. I loved it with feta cheese in particular when I would toss a salad or pasta dish. Add some tomatoes – and you are ready to eat!

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I grew up on a property which runs along the Scantic River and my husband and I go there for walks sometimes.

The river was very low in this shot. When I stand at this particular curve in the bend of the river, memories from my childhood fill my mind – every time.

We swam here sometimes and I fished at this spot with my younger brother, Jimmy.

He taught me how to catch night crawlers the evening before fishing day. We walked the yard with flashlights – usually after rainfall because they come to the surface.

Those are good memories. Today, I don’t care for putting a live worms on fishing hooks, especially night crawlers – but back then, it was no problem.

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Know what this is? A Catalpa tree. Native to our area.

We had a huge one in our backyard – it is still there actually. They can be messy because of their extremely long seed pods which fall to the ground, and require clean-up before mowing the lawn, which my father did every time.

This one is at that spot by the river. The sky was a beautiful clear blue that when I looked up at the tree, I quickly snapped a photo.

During my studies at UCONN, we were required to propagate a tree or shrub, or grow them from seed. I asked my professor if I could grow the Catalpa tree because my parents’ landscape had them and I grew up with those trees.

He responded that it is basically a weed, but yes, I could grow them.

I collected the long seed pods, and had many baby Catalpa trees in no time after laying the seeds on a bed of peat. They germinated easily and quickly.

Ironically, when I did some landscape designs years later, one client really wanted these because they are native. Things change. Natives are not considered weeds.

Actually, I think what my professor was implying at the time was that it is not the type of plant he wanted me to grow because he was teaching nursery production of marketable landscape type trees, but when he understood I had a fond memory of them, he agreed to it. Plant people – no matter how smart or experienced – have that “thing” about understanding the passion for nature and plants.

As a last thought on that professor – he came to me when I got my first job at a nursery to do a design for his wife. I remember feeling surprised and of course, intimidated cause he was a tree master.

I think it came down to he just wanted someone to help his wife.

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

A better pic

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There. That’s Better.

Better than the last post – which was just words saying we are posting formatting changes to this blog.

I started goofing around on this blog with different colors – and one thing led to another, removal of some menu items – Well, now I have some fixing to do. But, I have to table that for later because there are too many balls in the air at the moment.

The center photo above is of me from a few years back at the Maine Botanical Gardens sitting on a bench in front of their beautiful Delphiniums. The photos around that shot are of various container gardens from past to present. I love the colors and the memories.

Upcoming:

January 28th – Ellington Farmers Market
2:30 – 3:30 pm
Demonstration of growing micro-mini-cuties healthy and tasty greens. This is your chance for a FREE demo. Starter Kits will be available for purchase.

February 8th – Down to Earth Garden Club
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
I will be speaking on the “6 Design Tips” for Container Gardens. This is a follow-on of last February’s presentation at this club; Part II to a series. Held in a library.

February 11th – Flower Arranging Workshop
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
JEM’s is returning again as Guests Artist to teach this workshop. We have 9 attendees registered and plenty of room for more. Registrations are encouraged by Jan 28th to pre-plan. Theme is Pinks and Whites.

March 11th – BOOK CLUB Bookstore and More
10:00 am – 11:00 am
Free presentation on the “6 Design Tips” for Container Gardening.

March 14th – Cherry Brook Garden Club
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Presention on my famous “5 Must Do’s for Growth Success” with Container Gardens.

March 18th – Botanical Wall Art
New Workshop to be Announced – Stay Tuned to www.WORKSHOPSCT.com

March 25th – Boston Flower Show
I’m going! Are you? Steve and I enjoy going together and mixing it up with show time, eating time, and relaxing with nice glass of wine. We stay overnight – it is fun and I bring inspiration to share with everyone upon my return.

We may be lining up a soap making workshop soon – I will be letting you know.

And I promise to post more on plants – it is time – a review of plants from last year will be underway.

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

“A blog about Plants, Container Gardening, and More!”

 

 

 

2017 Flower Arranging Workshop – Open for Sign-Up’s

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Good Morning Everyone,

Just a quick post to remind followers and interested people – our registrations are now open for the February 11th, 2017 Flower Arranging Workshop.

Location: Broad Brook, CT

Guest Speakers: JEM’s Horticulture and Floral Design

We require confirmed seats three weeks before the workshop date to ensure the “freshest flowers”  – so please visit our sister site listed below for all the details and express your interest today, ask questions, or look at our Gallery to see prior workshop photos of everyone’s beautiful creations.

www.WORKSHOPSCT.com

Additionally, we have posted many workshops upcoming in 2017. Visit the site to see each one and let’s get together to make it together this year!

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (texts welcome)
containercathy@gmail.com