What’s Coming Up – Besides Your Seeds!

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Hey Everyone, just a quick hello and updates on what is coming up!

June 17, Saturday
South Windsor Farmers Market
Free demo – How to Grow Your Own Micro-greens (this topic is still very popular, and you may do this year-round, come learn how!) – 11 am demo time. Will also have plants for sale along with Starter Kits for the micros, hanging baskets, and more.

See the Flyer: SW Market Flyer 2017

July – Date to be Announced
New Terrariums Workshop at a New Location!
New Cidery in Stafford Springs, CT
Hop on over to www.WORKSHOPSCT.com to learn more, or check out their website. We will be offering another fun filled terrariums workshop. Details to be announced very soon. Stay tuned.

New Plant Arrivals
Thank you to all visiting me at the new shop where I have my plant showcases (address below), plant gifts, seeds, birdhouses, fertilizer, and garden decor for sale.

This week, we have new arrivals for plants – see WorkshopsCT.com for the newly posted feature – ferns, garden signs, and succulents continue. I am there every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm, and the shop is open every day of the week too.

It is a great place to pick up a book if you are an avid reader – I have met many there, as well as authors – it has been rewarding to meet the various people there – and new gardening plant lovin’ friends.

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Seeds – It is not too late to sow!
You still may sow many types of seeds, which we have quality, 100% Certified Organic seeds in stock at the shop right now. With this cool weather, maybe being a little late sowing will work out because the damp soil may rot tender seedlings if you put them in already and still need more to replace any – Consider our seeds by Hudson Valley Seed Co. See http://www.WorkshopsCT.com for more details.

Address: 869 Sullivan Avenue, South Windsor, CT in BOOK CLUB Bookstore & More. The plaza also has a pet store, chiropractors offices, nail salon, exercise place, and United Bank. Look for the plaza adjacent which has a Dunkin’ Donuts and Red Onion Pizza restaurant.

First Day of Summer
Is it true? Summer is coming? It better. This darn cold damp weather – We all want sun. The first day of summer is June 21st, only 2 days after Father’s Day on June 18th, it will be here before you know it.  We have had cool temps, lots of rain, and less warmth but I have faith it is coming – Be prepared, get your plants now if you haven’t already.

One big benefit of this cool spring, however, is my perennials outdoors are outstanding – the bugs haven’t been as prevalent, and the flowers are just gorgeous – but summer IS coming – Get your planted gifts, seeds, and decor from Container Crazy CT while supplies last – Many of our planted gifts are perfect for indoors too – consider them as a gift for Dad’s office or for birthdays, special occasions, graduations, etc – We offer Gift Certificates as well.

Happy first Monday of June everyone!

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

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Thank you for Attending!

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The Grand Opening Celebration at the bookstore, where I have been showcasing my plants, products, and gardening items, was so much fun. There was a great turnout and I met many new faces, which I want to say was so nice – in addition to having friends and family stop by.

Thank you for attending and supporting local small businesses in and around our towns. It really was a treat to be part of it all. And special thanks to the bookstore owner, Cynde Acanto, for having me part of their opening celebration day.

There has been so much going on, and I have my big container gardening workshops coming up starting soon, with the first session happening on Saturday, May 13th, which is one day before Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day Social Media Post

I have had many mom and daughter teams attend my workshops in the past, and if you want an idea to take Mom to somewhere to make her happy – consider one of my Gift Certificates. They are redeemable towards workshop registrations and plants for select items.

They are available via my www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site or by visiting the BOOK CLUB Bookstore in South Windsor, CT (see address below). Each has a beautiful plant related photo on the cover.

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, and I put out some themed plant gifts in the store for that – which I loved doing since I just recently traveled to Cabo, Mexico with my husband. While there, I picked up some special finds – all hand-made and hand-painted art – perfect in terrariums and for succulents. Friends stopped by to grab some right away. Especially for those special people born on May 5th – it is perfect for gift giving.

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Also, I’ve been taking custom orders at the shop along with offering new items weekly. There are terrarium kits in stock along with terrarium plants, succulents, cacti, and more. I’m also accepting one-on-one sessions if you can not make a workshops date. My friend from the corporate days came to a session and made this beautiful terrarium in a jumbo bowl (above photo). She scored bunnies that I swear look like chocolate. We had a very nice session that day. And, by the way, I’ve added another terrarium’s workshop date on June 10th. Visit www.WORKSHOPSCT.com for the location and time.

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I’ve made some staghorn fern wall boards with smaller boards for people who’ve mentioned they’d like one on a smaller scale. And there are seeds available by Hudson Valley Seed Co., which is one of my fav seed co’s – all 100% Certified Organic, Open Pollinated and Heirloom. Swing by before they are all gone – I’m also offering a Seed Starting Talk soon (see WORKSHOPSCT.com).

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But the list doesn’t end there – it just keeps growing. My father’s adorable birdhouses are stocked in the store, which I recently added heavy duty garden stakes to – this is a great way to put them up immediately – or put them in your big container garden. It makes a wonderful pop of color to your plant arrangement. And a home for the birds.

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Many of my friends and workshop attendees have stopped by to see all and I can’t thank them enough for showing support of my endeavors. It really makes me feel valued when they pop by and visit. I’m having so much fun and have been very busy adding more workshops and making new items.

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Don’t forget – for those available during the day, I’m offering a free container gardening talk at the bookstore at noon on Tuesday, May 9th, and a restaurant in the adjacent plaza (Red Onion) is offering a discount to my attendees if they wish to pick up a grinder to bring with them during my talk, which is on my “5 Must Do’s for Container Gardening Growth Success.” Just ask for Steve, the new restaurant owner, and say Cathy T from the bookstore sent ya. It is a 45 minute quick talk and demo since I have to get back to work immediately following. I hope to see you there.

Thank you,

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

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Address to Bookstore:

BOOK CLUB Bookstore & More
869 Sullivan Avenue
South Windsor, CT 06016
United Bank Plaza
Dunkin’ Donuts and Red Onion Restaurant next door

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

 

 

Autumn Brings Beauty and Overwintering Work for Gardeners

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I think everyone in our area of Connecticut would agree – the fall foliage colors are absolutely spectacular here this year – what a treat for the eyes to see the bright golden yellows and reds against clear blue skies. There are trees in my yard which never looked so vibrant, even the kiwi vine over my chicken coop pen is beaming more than ever, but alas, the leaves will fall and the holidays are right around the corner.

#autumn at the beach yesterday!

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In preparation for the fall, I have spent the last three weeks putting away many of my tropical plants and conducting a mini workshop on the famous succulent pumpkins. It was the first workshop offered at Container Crazy CT’s on this new fashion – Pumpkins covered with succulent plants and decor! The workshop was conducted with an Insiders Club members – what fun we had. We are testing our results based on the techniques we used to assemble and design them, and all of this will be shared in next year’s workshop – I know this workshop will grow. These succupumpkins are addicting.

#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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Yesterday, a stink bug was still sitting on one of my succulent pumpkins in my house. I had to laugh – these guys are slow moving but he didn’t move for 24 hours. There is a black plastic spider on the top and I thought, “Does he think the spider is real?” LOL.

#succulentpumpkin #autumn #stinkbugs #succulents

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Part of my autumn overwinter process included collecting seeds from Canna, Castor Beans, and other misc perennials which are stored in plastic pill bottles and kept in a dark cool place in my home for use next season. Here’s a photo of the Castor Bean (Racinus) which look like ticks! Oooooh! I also take various cuttings and do some propagation, as well as divide and repot plants to keep (as shown with the lemon grass in my prior post).

#castorbeanseeds #racinus

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If you have been watching my posts this year, you surely saw the container filled with a huge green elephants ear (Colocasia), and I had to finally take it down, such sadness, but one of my workshop attendees asked me for the leaves because she is doing some leaf castings – and so that helped soften the blow – knowing the leaves will be used for an art related project. And, just maybe she can teach us when she perfects her process of leaf casting at my workshops. I can’t wait to see her results.

#containergardening #tropicalplants #autumngardening #ensete #overwinteringplants #workshops

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The elephants ear grew very very large, at least 3 ft long leaves. Here is the bulb located at the base of the trunk shown below when I dug it up. I call it a trunk as I type here but technically base of the stems, but it looked like a trunk because that elephant ear grew very lush this year. I just adored it.

#colocasiaesculenta #colocasia #autumngarden #overwinteringplants

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Now, I will store this bulb to reuse next season. All the steps, tools, process, and products used to store my tropical plants were covered in my “Overwintering Tropical” plants workshop earlier this month. We had lots of fun as you can tell from our smiles in the above workshop photo where we are holding leaves of one of my red banana plants (Ensete). We covered everything you need to know and enjoyed a sunny day following a morning frost.

#tubers #colocasia #elephantsears #autumn #overwinteringplants #bulbs

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And I have to be honest, I was getting tired of storing bulbs, rhizomes, tubers – you name it – I had a lot of plants this year. Here’s a photo of the stack of boxes I was about to hand-truck to my unheated basement for the babies put to rest for the winter. The only good news was the weather was cooperating – it was nice and sunny almost every day – so I wasn’t working with cold hands as in years past. We had a frost on the same day I held my “Overwintering” workshop – which was perfect timing. But about 3 days later, we had a day in the 80’s – when I snuck out to go to the beach! Why not?!

Next on Container Crazy CT’s workshop list is my first ever Growing Nutritious Soil Sprouts workshop – We decided to add a week night workshop by request – so it looks like this one is underway with a few sign-up’s. I can’t wait to show this process – to grow sprouts all year round, starting now in the fall – is a great way to have fresh sprouts which are oh so healthy on your salads, on appetizers, in soups – all perfect for upcoming Thanksgiving meals, or for those moments when you want a nice warm soup on a cold winter day. I could go on and on about these sprouts but I will save that for the attendees of this workshop in November. See my http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site for all the details.

Next workshop. #sprouts See WorkshopsCT.com. Two dates Nov 5, Nov 10. #containergardening

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But as busy as I’ve been the past few weeks, I still take the time to go have some fall fun – stopping by Strong Family Farm in Vernon, CT to see their scarecrow competition – it was a PERFECT day – and they did such a wonderful job. I have to enter next year – my brain is already brewing with a scary container garden scarecrow.

#scarecrows #autumn #farms #halloween

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And to cap off this quick post – I have to share the photo of my beautyberry shrubs (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’). I post a picture every year around this time – these purple berries can not be beat. They are so pretty right now. I planted three of these shrubs many years ago – and I remember I followed the spacing instructions exactly, but they can be maintained easily with a good pruning every season. They are deciduous, cane-like shrubs. The branches tend to arch and the color of the leaves is a bright light green color. The purple berries are clustered and they reach their beauty in October. In winter, the leaves will drop off but the berries do hang on a long time. Seeing them makes me consider if my May 2017 workshop should entail beautiful shrubs such as this one.

#autumn #fallshrub #berriedshrub #callicarpa

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#callicarpa #berriedshrub #fallshrub #autumn

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Well, that is all folks for this Friday morning. Enjoy your Halloween Festivities if you have them on the agenda for the weekend, and don’t forget to visit my Instagram pages for many more photos of all the activity discussed above.

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

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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#succulents #alpines #farmersmarket #containercrazyct #birdhouses

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#containercrazyct #farmersmarket #alpines #succulents

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My #farmersmarket table tonight. #sprouts

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Super hot but I'm here at the #farmersmarket

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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.

 

 

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.

Container Garden Workshop_0010

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.

Container Garden Workshop_0016

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.

Container Garden Workshop_0008

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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