April is Warming Up Slowly

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Good Morning Friends,

As you know, if you live in Connecticut, it is taking a bit longer for April to warm up this season, but that hasn’t stopped me from potting up my canna rhizomes and getting my precious seeds in seedling trays.

I thought now is a good time to provide some quick updates on happenings with Cathy T as we kick off the spring season and look forward to summer.

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Visit Container Crazy CT’s Page to View

First up, this week is a free Facebook Live on Wednesday, April 11th, 10:30 am Eastern to show my micro-greens growing process in a 20-30 minute demonstration. Following the demo, if you are interested in a starter kit to give this a try, please contact me (form below) or just text my telephone noted below as well.

Note: This will be the only free showing this year – don’t miss it if you like to eat healthy and nutritious micro-greens which are delicious – all year, and very nice in summer too, when we have fresh tomatoes to go with your homegrown and fresh micro-greens.

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Seeds for sale and Starting seeds

I’ve been planting up seeds like crazy this month – cherry tomatoes and big tomatoes (shown above) as well as basil, moon flowers, edamame, peppers, lettuce, etc. Some will be for me for my container gardens at home to enjoy, and others are for friends requesting I grow some for them. If you are in need of some seeds, and are local, hurry up to contact me – I have plenty of wonderful varieties above. And remember, some seeds grow well in patio pots (radish, kale, lettuces, herbs). I have some growing right now – wonderful to have at your finger tips.

Note: Seed packets make amazing gifts – put a mini succulent with it – and voila.

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Canna in a 5″ Square Pot

My winter stored rhizomes, tubers, and corms are starting to wake up from hibernation. I am planting up Canna lily, Elephant Ears, and getting my prized big red banana plants out into pots to give them an early start. I’ve offered to “hold” the canna and elephant ears for anyone interested. They should be ready by end of May or a bit earlier for your container gardens.

Note: Limited supply and based on success – or not – I hope all will go well, and will keep those who have asked to “reserve” one posted on the progress. They will start in the 5″ pots shown above and potted up as needed. Prices are based on pot and plant sizes. Details will be emailed to you if you wish to have one held for you.

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Cacti are Blooming

It is so nice to see this vivid yellow in the greenhouse – my cacti are blooming. This was a cacti garden made last Halloween for fun and I’m enjoying the colors.

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With Succulents

Heads Up — If Interested! I’m holding my first terrariums workshop at the Granby Senior Center on May 9th. It will be with succulents and cacti. It is a daytime session at 1 pm on a Wednesday. Please contact the center to sign up. See their newsletter (last page) to see the complete details and price.

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Note: We need a minimum of 8 attendees to hold the terrariums session at the Granby Senior Center, and the sign-up cut off date is April 20th. Please signup soon if want in.

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Succulent Hanging Basket (Birds Not Included)

This succulent hanging basket is on reserve for a client. I would be happy to make more now and keep them growing so they are ready for you by end of May to put outdoors when it is warm enough. Holler if you want in.

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Canna Cleopatra

This canna rocked my world last year. The foliage is mixed dark tones and green plus the flowers bloom both red and orange blooms on the same flower bud. I am growing some of these too. Again, supplies are limited, so if you think you want me to reserve you one, contact me below.

Note: Must pick up your Canna by May 25th in Broad Brook, CT. Supplies limited.

Lastly, hopefully my regulars saw that I will not be offering a May Container Workshop this season. However, I will have beautiful succulents in stock starting in early May – and I also will be offering Terrarium Kits with 10″ bubble bowls, all the interior components, and the plants. Just ask if you have any interest and hope to see you soon.

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
www.WORKSHOPSCT.com
http://www.CONTAINERCRAZYCT.com
Location: Broad Brook, CT

Seeds are Available Today!

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Hi everyone,

Pop on over to www.WORKSHOPSCT.com to see my latest post on the seeds I have available today.

If interested, fill out the contact form there. Remember, mid-March is when we start “some” seeds to prepare for the upcoming spring (if it will EVER get here).

I’ve been dabbling in seeds more these days, did a bunch of research the past couple months, and have a nice stock of new unique seeds available. I hope you will be interested.

In the meantime, stay warm – I hear we may have yet another nor’easter next week, really? Ugh.

But what is nice during these cold spills is that I have some nice salad mix growing right now – from seed, and I even pushed the limits and have some basil and oregano started from seeds as well, along with beats and radishes. All I need is some SUN.

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Also, I’m attending the Boston Flower Show this weekend – it is kind of a date weekend with the hubby. I always discover something new at the show – and we also enjoy the local restaurants (motivation even more because it will be a cold weekend in Boston this year, some years it has been more spring-like).

The info gained at the show will be shared on my Instagram feed.

More to follow!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
Planting Zone 6a
Broad Brook, CT
A container gardener with a passion for art, plants, and now, seeds!

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Seeds and Such – In Container Gardens

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Good morning friends,

As noted in my prior blog post – I will be offering a Facebook Live on growing edible plants from seeds in container gardens and patio pots.

The date of the Facebook Live broadcast is March 21st, Wednesday, 10:30 am EST. Just check into Container Crazy CT on my Facebook page to locate the feed.

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Edamame Soybeans in Pots – YES!!! You will be amazed at how many you get.

Couple Updates – I will have SEEDS available!

I will have a limited supply of seeds by a company which I find offers excellent quality (will review the seed company at the live session).

By this I mean, they germinate very well, have a very interesting mix of varieties which I find are unique and flavorful (and often you can’t find these varieties in stores), and also, many are selected because they are perfect for container gardens and patio pots.

Some examples are: Kale, Radishes, Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Basil, Oregano, Lettuces, Hot Peppers, Carrots, Edamame Soybeans, Cucumbers, and a few flowers too.

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Tomatoes in Containers – they were amazing last year – can’t wait to taste them again

RESERVING A SEED PACKET

If you think you would like to reserve a pack before or after my Facebook Live, please fill out the contact form below for a list and prices. (Note: For pickup’s only from me in Broad Brook, CT; no mailings).

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All Grown From Seeds – Container Gardens Filled with Edibles

Free Handouts

Also, if you wish to obtain the free handouts prior to view as I talk “Seeds and Such” at the Facebook Live, please fill out the contact form on www.WORKSHOPSCT.com.

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Yummy! Basil in Window Boxes.

Other Quickies – BERT’S BIRD HOUSES

I, once again, have many birdhouses available, made by my father, an old avid farmer (sorry, Dad, you are not old). He is healthier than me – not kidding – he never stops moving.

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Soon, he will be busy in the garden, but in winter, he makes these adorable hand-painted bird houses. They are made with reclaimed wood. He has MANY colors available.

If interested, contact me (see below). (Note: For pickup’s only from me in Broad Brook, CT; no mailings). Prices range from $18-$25.

Remember, the birds are looking right now for their nesting homes.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
Broad Brook, CT
Zone 6a

CONTACT FORM – SEEDS OR BIRD HOUSES

 

Seeds and Such

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It is mid-February, we are expecting temperatures in the 50’s tomorrow and Friday, and I heard of potential snowfall on Sunday.

Yes, that is Connecticut (or New England) weather for ya! There will be days where it feels like spring is coming, and days where we are reminded winter is still here.

I just saw my first live and crawling woolly bear caterpillar yesterday on the driveway – a sign, I hope that we are all getting ready to receive spring while we wait out winter.

While we contemplate the approaching spring, now in February is a good time to “get organized and started” with planning out what you want to grow from seed (if you plan to do seeds this year).

Last year, I was behind with my tomato seedlings, yet, I still had a very nice harvest of cherry tomatoes, but I remember thinking that I needed to plan ahead for year 2018.

Believe or not, we are at the “13 weeks mark” before our last (spring) frost date – if you use the May 10th date as an estimate (which I am) of when we can expect our last spring frost here in Broad Brook, CT.

Some charts of our average frost dates in the northeast may indicate an earlier “last frost” date – towards the end of April, but I like to play it safe and go with a May date, and work back from there. It is also based on my own records and playing around with seeds which I grow in my hobby greenhouse from time to time.

Various micro-climates, your own gardening experience, where you eventually put your seedlings (for me many are put in container gardens outdoors and indoors), and how much you wish to risk it – all play into what, when, and how you start your own seeds and seedlings.

TRIAL AND ERROR

Trial and error is one way to experiment with seeds. After all, if you place a seed in soil – there is a great chance it will sprout for you. It can be fun to experiment that way, but we don’t want to waste our time or seeds for that matter either.

Sometimes I will put a seed in a starter pot just to see what happens – like I did recently with seeds from a slice of jackfruit, which I tasted for the first time in my life last week. I, did, however, look up the seed online, and didn’t see any special preparation requirements for this type of seed (such as scarification), so I plopped the big seeds in pots with soil mix, watered it and will watch and see (an experiment).

By the way, the fruit of jackfruit was very yummy. I found a big slice of it at Whole Foods and when I told the woman at the register that I was getting it just to see how it tastes, she replied with, “Well, then – it is on the house. I’m not charging you for it.”

Experimenting and playing with seeds is fun but they must be cared for or you will result with unhealthy, stretching, or badly rooted plants.

The more I started to think about seeds and reviewed my various reference books on growing from seeds, the more information piled into my head. So you have to start somewhere, and I think one of the best places to do so is …

FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU LIKE TO EAT

I think probably the best place to start is figuring out what you like to eat. Decide what you want to grow and where. For me, I love herbs like basil, mint, thyme, parsley. I enjoy fresh lettuces, kale, spinach, etc. I love cherry tomatoes and all kinds of peppers. Oops-there goes that long list again. Maybe narrow it down if you are a beginner.

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In my case, I plant vegetables in containers around the house and in the house. Some are started with seeds and others are seedlings I grew in advance. Thus, the timing. Looking at the “days to germination, days to maturity, days to harvest, days to transplant, etc.” on the seed packets come to play as well. That is probably step two in my book, get familiar with the seed packet.

Last year, I obtained seeds from a company I really like called Hudson Valley Seed Co. and sold them at a pop up shop last year, and I gave some as gifts to my attendees at my last workshop of the 2017 season at Holiday time.

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I hope you (if you are an attendee reading this) kept the packet in a safe place since December. And, if you did – NOW IS THE TIME to get familiar with the instructions and timings noted on the seed packet and look at your calendar if you want to sow the seeds in time for the gardening season. And note my next Facebook Live on your calendar too – see below on that.

FEBRUARY IS TIME TO PLAN AND WAIT

February is the time to look up your last frost date, mark it on the calendar, and starting counting back the number of weeks for the seed packet you have on hand.

Also, note — if you start seeds too early (getting anxious–as we all do this time of year), beware, this can lead to problems if you keep the plant (seedling) in a starter pot too long – it may get root bound, stretch for light, etc.

And remember, the more stressed a plant gets, the more likely they can get a problem. Consider the plant type before you begin, as some like cooler temps and others require warmer temps and soil. A good example is tomatoes. I always wait til Memorial Day to plant them outdoors. You don’t want to start them this early in the season.

Although I think much can be accomplished whether you do things exactly or not – it is a good idea to think it over before you begin. Next is where, if you are new, should you get your seed packets?

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Seed Starter Kits I sold at a Pop-up Shop last Season

WHERE TO GET SEEDS

Another good thing to consider, now we are at the mid-February point, is where would you grow your seeds? Do you have the right type of windows at home with light and warmth, do you have a hobby greenhouse, etc. Do you need to get grow lights, a heating mat, or other supplies? Before you begin, consider all of these things before you buy your seed packets.

Many nurseries and stores are offering seeds now. I even saw a seed rack display at Rite Aid last week. And don’t forget garden shows, which Hartford’s starts up next week on Thursday, February 22nd (CT Flower and Garden Show) – there will be seeds there. Every year, Hudson Valley offers them – check them out. I find their seeds are reliable, well packaged, and great instructions both inside the seed envelope and outside. It is a good time to get supplies from them too – or you can go to your favorite online seed sources.

seed sowing kits

Did you happen to save any seeds from your own plants last year? I did, and will be reviewing those to get started too. There is such a nice reward when you grow plants from seeds you collected the year prior. And it saves you a bit of money.

Another item you may want to pick up when you get your seed packets is a small pocket size calendar for your records to track all, count back the weeks required, etc. The small sized calendars are handy cause you can easily file them and refer to them the following season.

You should start to organize your supplies, think about what you need for materials, such as seed starting mix, potting mix, peat pots, seed trays, watering can, etc. during this month. And since we are having warmer temps this week, why not wash some containers. I like using hanging baskets to direct sow seeds (for lettuces) and smaller window boxes (for herbs).

I will be doing some materials preparation myself this week because I want to start some seeds in hanging baskets and pots to show at my next Facebook Live session, which is scheduled on Wednesday, March 21st.

The March Facebook live will show some of the basic seed starting I’ve done (and I haven’t really done tons with seeds because almost all the time I get plants from growers for my workshops), but I will show what I know, and will focus on seed starting inside the home too.

Many seeds may be grown directly in decorative pots and kept in the home if you have the right spot. Each plant has different needs, but you may be surprised at what you can grow inside in a cool room in your home or on a partially sun lit table in a warmer spot.

As I keep reading and researching more about seeds, I feel like the list grows on what to know, but then I think also, it is a seed, just plant it.

I think the bottom line to my message here today is “plan it.” Because if you don’t, you will either be behind or too early.

OTHER SIDE HIGHLIGHTS – WEBINARS

Aside from focusing on seeds in February, I’ve been taking the time to attend plant related webinars. Today, I’m signing into one on Perennial Plantings and it will be held with a Trial Manager (meaning they trial plants as growers). They will be going over cultural requirements, water management, and fertility. I’m sure I’ll learn something new.

I’ve also attended a few other webinars, by calling in and watching the presentations, on new products out by Scotts and one webinar was focused on Neptune Harvest (which is an organic fertilizer) and plant food (which I use in my micro-green’s growing (from seed). I plan to share what I learned with my attendees at FB Lives and this year’s workshops.

I received a review of soil mixes of which some are new coming out in 2018 at another webinar this month. I take notes and plan to share the information at my first spring garden talk on April 23rd at the East Hartford Garden Club. We know there are so many soil choices out there so everything learned is something to share with you.

Keeping up with plant knowledge can be tricky as a solo-entrepreneur but I wanted my followers and attendees to know I work on it by attending these webinars now and by researching, reading, and experimenting. It’s an investment for me and you.

PAST FB LIVES

If you tuned into my last two Facebook live sessions – thank you. This idea just kind of organically started in my mind – I thought why not share now in the middle of winter some topics each month. It is a great way to keep in touch with you all too.

The first session was on how to remove the succulents from the pumpkins we decorated last October in 2017, and the 2nd was on how to make a Moss Mardi Gras mask, which to me, is so much fun. I hope you felt inspired by it and you can see all the photos on my Instagram feed.

2018 WORKSHOPS

Because I am not offering my May Container Gardening workshops this season – I wanted to give something free to my attendees to soften the blow of this news – cause I know many of you enjoy it so much – which is part of the reason why I started the FB Lives. Hopefully you are enjoying them and find them useful.

However, don’t worry, more workshops will be planned in May of 2019, and some are already scheduled for the fall and holiday workshops of 2018. The latest schedule is on the WORKSHOPS tab in my website, www.WORKSHOPSCT.com. I’m sure I will keep adding to it as we get closer to spring.

Well, guess that is all for today.

a heart iiiii

Valentine’s Box Filled with Succulents – Created by me!

Happy Valentine’s Day – Hope you receive something sweet from whomever you share this day with.

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

Offering Workshops, Plant Gifts, and Container Gardens

 

 

 

FB Lives and 2018 Calendar

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Hi everyone,

I just posted the first version of my workshops schedule on www.WORKSHOPSCT.com, so hop on over there if you wish to start jotting key dates on your 2018 calendar.

One new item being offered this year are my Facebook LIVES. Because I am not offering my typical May container gardening workshops this year, I thought a nice bonus to make up for it is to offer you some free mini-talks on various plant and plant decor topics.

The next FB Live from my Container Crazy CT Facebook page is scheduled on Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018 at 10:30 am EST. The topic will be revealed the day before, and the post of the feed will remain for about one month before being deleted. One hint: It is related to an event in the month of February but may be one you wouldn’t guess!

To find the feed, just visit my FB page that day or be sure to “like” my page and then you should see it pop up as it goes live on your Facebook wall. Feel free to add your questions in the comments field as it is live. If I can’t answer right then, I will following the feed.

In July, I am offering a demo day on hobby greenhouse growing based on my experience with my own environment. It will be mid-summer, but this can be a great time to learn about all before you walk down the road of getting your own hobby greenhouse. Maybe we will have a nice lunch after the demonstrations. This session is for beginners, and will be a way to share so much I’ve learned about things you should know about the structures, key elements needed in the structures, and about winter or summer care in a greenhouse which are special in regards to weather, etc. The list goes on. We will talk about plant care, plant problems, and more. This will be a demonstration day, not a workshop.

In the fall and winter, we are offering our usual annual workshop programs, such as Succulent Topped Pumpkins and the Holiday KB workshops. See the link just posted under the WORKSHOPS menu from WorkshopsCT.com for the dates. As we proceed into 2018, more locations and topics will be added, some perhaps new!

If questions, please let me know! Cathy T

2018 FB Live Feb

Do you still want emails?

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Hello world!

How’s everyone doing today?

I was thinking this morning, I wonder if my friends, clients, and attendees still want emails?

My stats on distributed emails shows a lot of un-opens from the past few updates sent out to my distribution list.

Is email out of favor?

My website is always here for updates as well, on what is coming up for workshops and educational sessions on plants, so hopefully, if you prefer no emails, you still like coming to read the blog and website updates.

It seems views continue to occur on my sites per my stats, so I hope if you need information and want to know the latest, you are looking here, and on www.WORKSHOPSCT.com.

And, I find my Instagram account is being viewed.

I’m kind of obsessed with Instagram these days. I may be considered a spammer of plant photos at this point – not sure.

I just can’t help but take pics of my plants. It is an addiction of mine. They are like my kids. You never stop loving or enjoying them – and sharing news about them.

Well, if you are visiting my websites, then you will get my latest updates – I hope!

As you know, I completed my very first try at what I called a pop up shop at a bookstore this year – it was a “fast” seven months with many lessons learned and new friends gained.

I, obviously, keep having that dream of having my own plant shop – but alas, we all know the costs of that scenario – and well, I hope to have another opportunity to do another pop up somewhere – will keep you posted when it and if that happens.

For now, know that:

I continue to offer what I feel are “quality workshops” at a “great value.” Hopefully, as a regular (non-newbie) attendee, you know this! As a newbie, you will know. 😉

I sell plants always, and I coddle my plants – meaning I treat them like a newborns.

If you have a plant need, don’t hesitate to ask.

Right now, I have beautiful bird’s nest ferns, rubber plants, rabbit foot ferns, African mask alocasias, other houseplants, and, of course – amazing succulents in stock. Perfect candidates if you wish to dress up the indoors during the fall and winter.

In fact, my first session for the “Succulent Topped Pumpkin” centerpieces is this Saturday.

Get ready to learn, create, and enjoy. We will be covering a great deal of information. And the succulents are so ready for you!

The second session, at the Stafford Springs Cidery, is sold out. However, I think I may offer a mini session the week of 10/16. Or – if you have a group of 4 or 6 you think you can round up – contact me! We may be able arrange a session.

Other things coming up – my “overwintering demo” which is scheduled on 10/14, Saturday – and right now, we are having warm weather with beautiful sunshine. I hope this weather lasts, cause my plants and I are enjoying it.

But, if you want to learn about how I overwinter plants and propagate some, and deal with the houseplants we used this year, sign up soon. This session is good for those who wish to “see” how I do my process. However, you are always welcome to email any questions on overwintering too.

My schedule is so busy right now, cleaning up my workshop spaces.

You may find it hard to believe, but it can take me a full week just to set up.

AND, also, for the succulent pumpkins there is some pre-work done with the succulents to get them ready – so in all total, it takes me a month!

Yup. I think it is important to know this.

So, if you are an attendee, you know that Cathy T does a great deal behind the scenes – cause, well, I care. About you, and my workshops, and especially my plants (a.k.a., babies).

It won’t be long before I place my order for the holiday workshops in December. That is also another event which requires “pre-planning” and lots of it.

I wanted to you to know also, if you want a one-on-one private session to make any creation you see on my www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site – ask.

Or if you think you want to arrange a small group – ask too. But timing is key. Because of the planning, working with “live” plants, etc.

And in November, the enjoyable and fun Shop Small day, held for our small business customers to say thank you, will take place again.

I will keep you posted, but you probably want to note the date – which is November 25th, Saturday. I’m pretty sure I will be participating at a place with other vendors – stay tuned.

If you have any questions on overwintering, feel free to reach out too – as I know not everyone can make the demo.

Here are some I’ve already been asked about handling plants this time of year:

Can I use the same soil for my container gardens to re-pot my houseplants?

Yes, if you purchased quality soil mix from me – you can. Remember, if you decide to re-pot your houseplants from your combo planters we did in May, to pick a pot size that is “NOT” large. Remember what I told everyone about houseplants and the roots. You shouldn’t pot them up into a pot that is too large, etc.

Should I spray my plants before moving them into the house?

It is “very” important to inspect your plants.

IF your plants had bug issues, that were not bad, yes, spray them if you think critters exist. I have good spray in stock if interested that is organic and attacks the pests in their various stages (eggs, larvae, adults). I can tell you more if interested, but now is a good time to get the spray.

Also, if you had a problem with a plant where it seemed infested, it is not a good idea to bring them inside when you have other healthy houseplants.

As hard as it may be, a badly infected plant should be tossed if they can not be cured. Otherwise, those critters will find their way to you other plants. However, I am hoping if you got plants from me, you were able to keep them healthy and thriving.

Look under the pots too – sometimes critters hide there. Just a tip.

Can I still keep my plants outside right now? The weather is great.

We are having a spectacular week. Sunshine, blue skies, etc. Some of my Canna plants are still blooming – and yes, many plants may be kept outside. It is when those night time temps start to dip into the 40’s – keep your alert up.

Many tropicals (Canna, Elephant Ears, Red Banana Plants) may stay out till frost – IF you are going to dig up the tubers, rhizomes, etc to store those in dry peat in your basement, which I show how, but heads-up on that.

Because our weather has been so great though, it is also a great time to want to work outside to get your overwintering clean up done before it is cold.

It is a GREAT time to wash pots, inspect your plants, pull any weeds out of the containers if they got in there, and get prepared.

So, if you want to do your storing early, I don’t think it would harm anything.

I divided that big Alocasia, which I mentioned in the last post. I re-potted a few and will store the tubers of the others. That plant got so large, I got 13 plants out of it. It sure was easier to do on a sunny day on my driveway rather than a cold day where my hands froze.

Ideally, some division is better done in the “active growing season”, but I still do some now because I can move them into my greenhouse. Better late than never.

Oh, and yes, if you still enjoy getting the emails, let me know your thoughts. I don’t want to bombard people, but also don’t want them to miss out.

Thank you,

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

 

Hello Sept One

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It is September 1st … already?

I couldn’t believe how cold it was outside, as I stepped out in my fuzzy slippers and PJ’s, to get my laptop out of my truck, in the dark, with only the sound of traffic going by.

When I returned back inside the house, I checked my weather app on my iPhone.

Wow, it’s 50 degrees at 5:30 am this morning.

Brrr…

Thoughts going thru my mind…

What?! This is chilly.

Are my little plants okay, which I left in my truck last nite too, after dinner last night?

Wow, look over there – one of my moon flowers is open. Cool. That is a sign of fall.

It’s dark out here – I better be careful to look out for skunks.

All I can hear is traffic of vehicles heading to work on Rt 140.

Do any of us ever step outside this early in the dark to look at the stars?

Brr, it’s chilly. This is too soon.

Let’s get back inside to get my coffee, and oh, little plants, looks like you are doing fine in my truck. You will go back to my greenhouse after my usual am routine, hang tight.

I’m not ready to take on fall or winter yet – but I am seeing the signs.

And, these “signs” get us all prepared to transition to a new season, right?

First, it is the chilly evenings, then transition of the evening skies feeling like they are getting darker earlier, especially on the drive home after work.

The crickets going mad outdoors in the late afternoons – another fall sign – which helps to drown out my tinnitus, so I enjoy that more than ever.

The yellowing of some of my canna and alocasia leaves on plants in big container gardens from these chilly evening episodes, which those plants will need tending to, very soon.

All summer, I wanted to divide a huge alocasia – yet, still it sits in a big pot – larger than ever now – hope I can get to that soon, or maybe I will demo that one for my overwintering demo.

The pile of empty starter pots, in the garage, on the driveway – oh gosh, I have to wash all of those before storing them – I better pick a sunny day before the full cold fall season arrives, else it will be torture.

 

The pool to close soon – really? Ugh.

I didn’t even have the pool party I wanted, well, we had some little get together’s with some friends and family – but not a full out pool party – and the yard looks great.

I’m sure the pool water is ice cold right now. How many times did we use it? Not enough. But on those days we did, it was heaven.

This cool air of fall is all too soon!

But, the biggest surprise of the change of seasons coming on is that my Holiday Kissing Ball and Wreath Workshop is almost completely full with advance pre-registrations.

What? That is 30 people signed up so far, and the limit is 35. I think I have 3-4 seats open for my first workshop. Great news – it makes me very happy and proud – but this is the earliest ever for registrations – exciting!

Other signs – besides this morning’s cold, that it is Sept “One” already, is how fast time flies by – I’ve said that before, many times, I know. Just feels like it is always moving so fast.

I’m starting to see posts of fall crafting inspiration on Facebook by friends, and a little bit of the posts on Instagram of Autumn decorating is starting.

I’m making a cuties thing in my greenhouse themed for Halloween right now – but not sharing photos yet.

But, I guess, I will be taking those to my plant shop display soon. Maybe it is not too early, with these cooler nights – and mornings happening.

All of these things get us thinking fall.

But most of all – for me – is the chilly morning I just experienced today.

Thankfully, it will be followed by a glorious full sun fall like warm, but not hot or humid day, and that is the best part of fall.

Let’s enjoy it…

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

P.S.

My “Overwintering Container Plants” workshops are on the schedule, if you are interested. I am holding it early this year so people are ready for October’s frost timing, but geesh, with the early cool temps – maybe this was timed just right. First session is Sept 15, Friday, 6-7 pm at Book Club Bookstore & More in South Windsor, CT. All details are on www.WORKSHOPSCT.com. There will be a demo at my place too in Sept and October.

And – don’t forget – I am offering my “Succulent Topped Pumpkins” workshop again in early October and mid-October – see my site noted above for dates and details. People are starting to sign-up. It will be fun and creative! Join us!

 

 

 

Beautiful Weather!

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Happy Friday Everyone!

How about this beau-beau-Beautiful weather we are having – and it will continue for the next few days! Yipeeee!

Not sure if I’m totally diggin’ the cool night’s though – it has slowed down the ripening of my cherry tomato plants, but it sure does help for a restful sleep. And overall, the non-stressful weather has been fab for my other plants – they are not as stressed from high humidity this year.

Just a few notes – as updates, for today:

Terrarium One-on-One’s

I am offering Terrarium one-on-one sessions, at the bookstore, on Tuesdays and Thursday’s, by your scheduled appointment times. Hours are between 10:30 am to 6:00 pm, starting August 31st thru Sept 26. Only date not available is Tuesday, 9/12.

If interested, see my Facebook Events or my http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site.

Location is the Book Club Bookstore & More, 869 Sullivan Avenue, South Windsor, CT, where by the way, I have thriving houseplants and succulents available there – still doing well, if you have a need to spruce up a tired plant at your home, swing by to see!

Overwintering Plants Demo’s

I’m offering my demo on how to overwinter plants early this season, so that if you are interested, you may learn first and then get ready to take care of your plants in October right before or after our frost date.

If you prefer to wait, I will also be offering it in October at my house on 10/14.

The sessions are being offered at the bookstore (address above) and at my home based location in Broad Brook, CT. All session dates are posted on http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com

Because the themed plants for my May Container Garden Workshops were houseplants, this type of plant will be discussed on how to transition them to the home before it gets too cold out. And I will be including my usual tropicals, and talk succulents too.

Succulent Topped Pumpkins

This is a fun workshop for the fall, our 2nd annual. It will be offered at my home based location and at the new Stafford Cidery. They are filling up quickly so be sure to register early.

Dates are 10/7, 11 am – my place in Broad Brook, and 10/16, 6 pm, Stafford Cidery. You know where to find info…Yup, http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com.

Other Late Season Tips

We still have PLENTY of time to enjoy our plants – but here are some top of mind tips:

Let plants flowers go to seed. Wait for seed pods to blacken to collect. Store them for next year. Be sure to keep them out of sunlight, it a semi-tight container or dry envelope, in a cool room, and label them. You may try your hand at sowing them next year.

Cut old gone by flowers off plants, such as Canna plants. If the flower dries up and is papery, you may cut the stalk off the plant – it will help other stalks to push growth and bloom. Or you may leave the seed pods on the plant too to collect. These plants are beautiful all the way till frost – still lots of time to enjoy the flowers and foliage.

Watch your succulents. If we get really COLD DAMP rains – they sometimes don’t like this as it may cause some to rot. I moved some of my succulents in to the greenhouse already that were outside. It is not mandatory to do “now” but just be mindful of what I told you in my workshops about transitioning plants. When the cold wet rain hits, it may dampen that soil while cold out – not a good scenario for succulents. They like the soil to dry between waterings too.

Collect wild nature items now for fall decorations. I added a new workshop on Succulent Wreaths, for example, and we are having the Succulent Topped Pumpkins workshops. Wood sticks, beach shells, feathers, pine cones, if you find them, think creatively. Items which may be attached are good finds for free while you are outdoors exploring.

Water your container gardens even if it rains. So, you may be thinking, I don’t have to water my plants – it just rained. That is somewhat true – but if your pot outdoors has lots of foliage above the pot rim, the rain water may not have trickled down into the soil. Check it anyways. I do this with my big pots of elephant ears and banana plant. Many times, the soil isn’t that wet after a rain fall. Feel the soil. We may slow down our watering routines, but it doesn’t completely end.

Cut off damaged leaves from cold snaps. When we get cool nights, you may see a yellow leaf or two on your plants, like elephants’ ears. Take the time to cut it off with clean pruners. That will look better and keep your plant healthy. Speaking of that – remove any mush you see on your plants if something rotted.

Watch for caterpillars. I saw a few on my Canna leaves when I noticed some rugged edged holes, and looked “under” the leaf – sure enough, a white interesting fussy caterpillar was having her snack. I took those off, cut off the damaged leaves, and that took care of that.

Ever see a pattern of holes on a Canna leaf which are lined up in a row symmetrical style?

My friend just sent me a photo of just that – and what happened is the bug ate thru a “rolled up” leaf – before it unfurled. It created a pattern when the leaf opened. You may have seen this too, and thought – Wow, that insect is a Picasso!

Send me “Your Proud Plant Pics”

I get so excited when you send me a photo of a container garden which you made at my May workshops to show how well it is doing – or a photo of a plant you bought from me this season.

Please feel free to text a photo to me if you wish.

I love sharing success stories on my Instagram feed. It makes me proud – and happy you are enjoying your plants as much as I do.

That’s all I can think of for now. Enjoy your weekend. It’s gonna be a beauty.

Cathy Testa
860-977-8473 (texts welcome!)
containercathy@gmail.com
www.WORKSHOPSCT.com

Time is moving so fast…

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Something surprising is happening – I’m receiving registrations for my annual December holiday workshop now – in the middle of August.

Last year, it was in October when registrations began, but August – wow – thank you.

I think it is a testament to the effort I put into all of my workshops to make them fun with quality materials. And because of your continued support and attendance, I am able to keep my workshops going and offering them as a great value.

What I mean is, I work hard to make all my workshops “quality” – from providing a warm atmosphere to offering quality materials. And when plants are involved, which in most cases they are, I make sure to offer healthy, thriving plants.

Since being at the bookstore in South Windsor with a temporary vendor/pop up plant shop this season, I’ve heard repeatedly from customers, “Your plants are gorgeous.”

Believe me – it hasn’t been easy, because after all the bookstore is not a nursery environment per se – but fortunately, the space there has beautiful bright in-direct light for my various houseplants showcased. The many plants and plant gifts available for purchase there are doing well – and they are available while supplies last so swing by soon if you can before summer is out.

Even my stag-horn ferns on wall boards continue to do well there. It is proof how well various houseplants will thrive with bright indirect light, and in some cases, fluorescent lighting. You don’t need a really full sun type of room to enjoy many houseplants. Many will do fine in home environments where some light is cast or there is ambient lighting.

I also maintain many types of plants in my private greenhouse from perennials, tropical, cacti, and succulents – where there is various sunlight situations, because some are put under shade cloth, while others are in full sun spots in the greenhouse – and I coddle my stock of plants for use at my workshops and for sale to anyone interested.

It takes me two hours every morning to water my outdoor container gardens and inspect my stock plants, making sure they are doing well, and give them plenty of coddling.

I tell myself every year, don’t put out so many containers at the house because I become a slave to them – but I truly can’t help myself. That is like trying to ask a fisherman not to buy another lure – or a shoe fanatic to not purchase a new fancy pair of shoes.

In addition, when I set up my workshops, where we combine nature with art – I do a lot of extras in advance so all is well-organized for my attendees, which I really don’t think others would take the time to do.

For example, for my terrariums workshops, I wash every bubble bowl by hand to make sure they are sparkling, and I package materials, rinse items, and again, make sure all the plants are doing well or get them fresh from growers for each session.

Sometimes, preparing for a single workshop takes a whole day of time. Truly. You may find this hard to believe, but it does. Of course, I want to make the whole package right for my attendees so all is well-organized. Is that going overboard? I don’t think so.

Again, it isn’t always easy – there are so many challenges, but I continue to be obsessed with my plants and workshops. I’m always taking pictures of my plants too – it is to the point, I could be classified as a plant paparazzi. Good thing plants are not shy. The photos are posted daily on my Instagram feed.

But I love it all – and I’m so happy my regulars and new attendees love it too. Thank you again for supporting my small business. I could not be doing any of this without my loyal fans and new plant friends.

As I mentioned in the title of this post today, time is moving so fast – it has been a fast and fun season and now fall is approaching already – summer is almost over, and I’m so excited to be offering more workshops this Sept, Oct, Nov and of course, DECEMBER.

In the meantime, maybe I can grab some beach time between my workshops before summer is gone.

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

For my various locations and workshop venues, please visit the LOCATION tab on my workshops site. Thank you. Cathy T.

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Cathy T takes up-close photos of plants in her greenhouse. She is a Plant Paparazzi!

July 27 – Just sharing some photos at the end of the month

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Hi everyone,

I’m at the bookstore today, where I have a small plant showcase as a premier vendor, and just finished talking to a customer who was here to see what I had that is “new.”

She’s become a regular visitor – and new plant friend. She likes my inspiration and then she shows me all of her plant creations via her photos on her phone. We could talk for hours!

It has been so much fun showcasing and selling my plants here – and the best part is meeting new people and making new connections. Without my venture here, I would not have met many new plant enthusiasts as well as avid book lovers.

I could write a book on my experiences here – you see, I’m not a huge book reader myself (shh-don’t tell anyone!). Well, let me correct that – I DO read books, but most of the time, actually probably 99% of them, are related to plants, gardening, propagation, succulents, cacti, houseplants, garden tools, tropicals, gardens around the world, bugs, leaves, botanical subjects, etc. My home based office is FILLED with books on 5 long shelves. And, I don’t just “read” them, I use them for my research. The studying never ends in the world of horticulture – it is the name of the game. Learning! But it has been a very long time since I read a novel or love story – LOL.

Many times, however, especially during the winter, when I have spare time, one of my all time favorite things to do is getting cozy in a lawn chair, which I keep in the greenhouse for those sunny yet cold winter’s day, and read. I soak up the sun, warmth, sights, and sounds as I enjoy a good plant book. On sunny days in the winter, you can’t beat the warmth. It can get warm enough to not have your coat on and put on a bathing suit top – and get a sun burn if not careful! But the vitamin D is heaven on those cold winter days. I just love reading my plant books there.

In the summer, the only time I’m reading in the greenhouse is when I’m looking up a plant problem, and even then, it doesn’t happen much (reading that is) in the greenhouse in the summer cause the greenhouse is filled with plants and plant projects. I’m too busy watering or planting, re-potting, cleaning, and repeat.

My greenhouse space is quiet, however, no matter the season. The things I hear are the occasional dried up leaves blowing across the slanted roof top, or a turkey making a cooing sound to his fellow wild friends. Sometimes I’ll hear a hawk – and once, a hawk landed on the top of the greenhouse roof to observe the bird feeder on a tree nearby for his own living tasty treats. He swooped down over to the feeder from the greenhouse roof – what a sight to behold as I was sitting quietly reading, looking up and seeing the span of wings. And, lastly, sometimes I hear a faint meow from my cat walking by, or hear tons of birds chirping in the brush behind the greenhouse – they love that stuff.

Anyhow, my point being – I do read, but it seems always to learn about plants – Plants! Plants! Plants! How did this planting thing become such a crazy (as in Container Crazy CT) obsession? Well, let’s not go there – that is another LONG story.

This year provided me with MANY new challenges and ventures. I decided to try my hand at houseplants – and WOW, was that ever a fun new gig. I met a wonderful grower, who truly supports me and treats me with respect. I feel this is a gift. A plant connection friendship formed and little did I know – I would learn a tremendous lot about houseplants – by observing, growing them, caring for them, and asking questions when I didn’t know the answer – it’s been all good. And now, I’m fond of them more than ever before. However, no worries, friends. I will continue to offer my other usual too, from perennials to wildly large tropicals. I just like to mix it up every year. It helps us all to grow as plant lovers. Plus, it is fun.

Now – for photos – let’s go so I can stop rambling, and do what I set out today, which was to share some photos…

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Ah, this was fun – making a circular pattern with my BEAUTIFUL succulents!

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My friend Terri came in to make a big terrarium – one-on-one style – which I offer by appointment at the bookstore on Tuesdays and Thursdays – did you know?!!

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My big Staghorn Fern – This was a new workshop offered earlier this year – what fun! I’ve expanded this whole process to mounting other plants to boards. I even painted one board in red-white-blue colors for the 4th of July, and I made custom theme boards for customers. It was the year of “wall-art!”

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Alocasia African Mask – I LOVE the look of this plant – and it is a new one for me this year – it does really well indoors in bright indirect light. I also found it has been thriving in a situation where I have one in very organic soil as an under-story like plant (below bigger leaved plants). It does not take full sun well at all – it needs shade. Also, it prefers “moist” soils, but not water logged. I give it a little water every time it is dry to the touch on the top but not soaking water.

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Oh God – This Canna ‘Cleopatra’ is ga-ga-ga-gorgeous. I scored a few BIG pots of them – full enough to last you a life time if you overwinter the storage organs (as I refer to them), which I teach how in my “Overwinter Plants” workshops – but back to this plant! It is soooo beautiful; the dark toned striped patterns in the leaves and it blooms, not only red, but also yellow flowers! How can a plant offer so much? Those of you who bought a plant at my workshop or from me at the bookstore – congrats.

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Here, I was showing an elephant ears tuber (bulb, corm – whatever you prefer to call it – although technically they have different names) – no matter, this was a big one! I potted up many this season and sold quite a few elephant ears of my own. One can not have a container garden thrill (or thriller) without one, in my opinion! They last into the fall, bob in the wind, and are easy – they prefer shade but can take sun if you water – a lot!

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Ah, this photo is showing moon flower seeds. This is another “new” offering by me this season – selling seeds by Hudson Valley Seed Co. All 100% certified organic seed and open-pollinated. Well, I had to sow some of my own of this plant which get huge, tubular, white flowers at end of summer. In fact, my plants are growing in a pot and I trellised them up to the light on my garage with garden twine which they freely accepted – the plant’s vines finally reached the light fixture – and I think it may go as high as the gutters of the garage. Because the seeds are open pollinated, any seed I collect from my plants will be true-to-type for next year’s round. Bonus! You buy one seed packet and you can keep it going on for years if you harvest your seeds from the plant.

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I’ve been offering so many terrariums workshops – I’m becoming known as the “terrarium lady” – and one day, a customer came in with a terrarium she had owned for one year – a gift from a friend, and it was so overgrown, she asked me to renew it – which I did – and I made up 3 terrariums for her. That was a fun project. BTW, our next TERRARIUMS workshop is on a Monday, August 21st, 6-8 pm at the Stafford Cidery! See http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com for all the details.

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And to finish off today’s “picture post” is a flash back of some of the containers created by attendees from my May Container Garden Workshops. I hope everyone’s creations are doing well. Now, it is time to stay tuned to the fall and winter workshops, after you finishing enjoying our summer vacations and the rest of our summer months! We have a few coming up:

8/21 – Stafford Cidery – Terrariums
9/15 – Book Club Bookstore – Overwintering Plants
9/20 – Stafford Cidery – Microgreens Growing
9/27 – Container Crazy CT’s BB location – Overwintering Plants Early
10/7 – Container Crazy CT’s BB location – Succulent Topped Pumpkins
10/16 – Stafford Cidery – Succulent Topped Pumpkins
10/14 – Container Crazy CT’s – Overwinter Plants (timed for fall frost)
12/2 –  Container Crazy CT’s – The 8th Annual Holiday Kissing Ball & Wreath Making
12/6 – Container Crazy CT’s – Weeknight Kissing Ball & Wreath Making Workshop

Enjoy! July is almost over!

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

If you are an Instagram fan – I’m there under ‘containercrazyct’ – look me up – I am constantly posting photos!

Thanks, Cathy T.

Other services:

Plant Refurbishments
Garden Talks
Demonstrations
One-on-One Private Sessions for Workshop topics
Plant Deliveries – coming soon