Next Up: Container Workshop in Vernon, CT at Strong Family Farm, Sat. May 20th

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We had a great time at my workshop last Saturday – and we didn’t get rained on, thankfully! But, if you missed our session, there is another opportunity to join us on Saturday, May 20th, 10 am at Strong Family Farm in Vernon, CT on West Street.

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As noted on www.WORKSHOPSCT.com, where you may read all the details, our plant theme this year is indoor air purifiers and flashy fancy foliage houseplant style! Don’t let that word “houseplant” fool you – the design arrangements you may create at this workshop are GORGEOUS and at a great value. Get them while they are hot!

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My workshops are set-up so you have everything needed at your finger tips – you show up and have all the fun. You only need to bring your pots – and, this year’s pots are smaller to medium sizes because of the type of plants which we are using in this year’s theme (10″-12″-15″ in diameter and depth not deeper than width). Get creative – someone brought a soup tureen last weekend, which made a wonderful centerpiece with these plants. The pots should have drain holes or we will drill them for you.

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There are many types of pots you may use. Just take a look at my Instagram feed or Container Crazy CT page for inspiration.

Saturday – May 20th – Strong Family Farm – 10:00 am 

And, the weather is predicted to be gorgeous on Saturday. We most likely will be holding this session outdoors by the farm’s big historic barns on Strong Family Farm’s property (BTW, they have chickens to see, and also a nice farm stand which opens in the summer.)

This is one of the few historic farms standing in the Vernon area. You can feel the history’s energy when there. A portion of your registration fee ($20) is donated to the farm to help support their renovations and events.

The morning will be a great creative day where you learn a lot about soil types on the market (I know they can be confusing!), various fertilizers, tips for success at growing and maintaining plants in your patio pots and container gardens, and more. I hope you will join us. Handouts for reference are provided for all attendees.

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The Plants

Again, these are low-light, bright-light, (shade or dappled sun outdoors) type of plants, and we have some flowering candidates too, along with started elephant ears – and all are foliage fantastical in my book. Lots of texture in these designs. Plus many of these tropical style houseplants do wonderfully in our summers outdoor here.

We also have a stock of mixed succulents if you prefer to create a sun loving design with these perfect drought tolerant candidates.

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Cost

$20 to register plus cost of plants you select at the workshop. You may purchase professional soil mix at the workshop or bring your own bag. We will have other amendments available for purchase as well. CT Sales Tax applicable.

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Easy Registration:

You may text me at 860-977-9473 if you want in. If you prefer to prepay by credit card, please visit www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site to pay online via EventBrite.  Or email me if preferred to indicate your interest in joining us. We’d love to have you do so.

Thank you – Cathy Testa
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

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It’s Terrarium Time!

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This weekend is Container Crazy CT’s first session on making terrariums.
Our workshop is being held at the BOOK CLUB Bookstore hosting facility on
Saturday (tomorrow), 4/8, 11 am. Located in South Windsor.
Note: We can squeeze in one or maybe two more last minute attendees if you are interested!

We are offering a second session at Container Crazy CT’s workshop space in Broad Brook on Wednesday, 4/12, 5:30 pm. This session has a few seats open.

To sign up, visit our sister site WORKSHOPSCT.com or text me at 860-977-9473.

THE TERRARIUM PLANTS

I’m super excited because my terrarium plants are just the right size, adorable, and healthy. Container Crazy CT works hard to make sure your plants selections are fresh and new for every workshop. Lots of love goes into their care.

At the workshop, 3 plants for your terrarium are included, but you may decide to buy more if you really want to ramp it up in your glass vessel. We have many selections. And we go over all the maintenance, care, and more in the workshops.

Here’s a sneak peek. To see many more, visit my Instagram feed.

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Don’t forget to check out our upcoming workshops:

May Container Gardening (3 dates available)

Basic Seed Starting Demonstration (to be posted soon!)

How To Grow Micogreens Demonstration (2 dates available)

STARTER KITS

Container Crazy CT is offering Microgreens Starter Kits and soon to be added are Terrariums Packaged Kits! If you can not make a workshop, these are available.
Stop by the BOOK CLUB (869 Sullivan Ave., S. Windsor) or contact me for more information.

Thank you – and enjoy the break in the rain today…

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

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“Combining Nature with Art”

 

More about Container Crazy CT’s new venue in South Windsor

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Hi Everyone,

I’ve been getting the word out about a new venue where I will be available every Tuesday and Thursday starting March 11th at a bookstore, BOOK CLUB Bookstore & More, in South Windsor opening March 1st.

When my sister, Louise, asked me what will I have at the store, I thought it would be a good idea to set the vision so my attendees will know the scoop.

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Many times people have asked me at farmers’ markets and other pop-ups where they can find me, well, this will be the place.

TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS

My regular days will be every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 5 pm, where I will be there to answer questions about plants, workshops, and well – I’m sure gardening books!

Since this store is a bookstore, you will find many new and used books, and the store also hosts special author appearances and regular book club discussions.

Nestled among the books will be Container Crazy CT’s items for sale and some plants, etc.

WORKSHOP PROTOTYPES

Every month, the game plan is to showcase workshop creations at this location. This way attendees may see what we will be making at scheduled workshops being offered at the bookstore for smaller groups.

SPECIAL ORDERS

Additionally, special orders may be placed with me for pickup at the store any day of the week based on requests. My large stock of plants will be maintained in my greenhouse at another location, but will be made available to you. It will be an exciting season to say the least.

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LOCATION

The store is conveniently located off of Sullivan Avenue in a United Bank Plaza at 869 Sullivan Place. As you enter the plaza, look for the bookstore on your left. It is only six miles from Broad Brook.

There are many other nice stores there too – a huge pet store, a massage and fitness facility (heard the yoga classes are great there via my other sister, Rosalie.) And I just met the owner of the health facility yesterday when I delivered some tables to the store. He was very pleasant and we discussed how my healthy and nutritious microgreens growing demonstration in March may be of interest to his clientele.

My setup will be somewhat in transition because I am traveling next week – where I will be including tropical plant research in my adventures – and returning just in time for the opening – which is March 1st. Expect to see change outs as my vision evolves.

FIRST FREE PRESENTATION

To kick off my first official day there, I will be offering a free presentation on “6 Design Tips for Container Gardens” on March 11th at 10:00 am. We ask that you register on the bookstore’s Facebook events listing as seats are limited.

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NEW WORKSHOPS ADDED

Container Crazy CT will continue to offer workshops at her usual location in Broad Brook, but now we have added this new place with more dates, plenty of parking, and more. Some of the workshops recently added are Botanical Wall Art (March), Kokedama balls (dates to be posted soon), Terrariums (April), etc.

See www.WORKSHOPSCT.com for all the dates and information.

STARTER KITS

We will have kits available for special features, such as our microgreens growing kits, available at the workshops or by request. This is another vision I have – making kits for you so you may elect to create an item at home on your own if you wish.

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And you know, I am so ready to plant up these containers framing the bookstore’s window, as soon as spring arrives. See you there soon!

Thank you,

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

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Succulents are Tough, but Not Indestructible

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It is amazing how popular succulents are today – and I’ve written about “how to care for them” in prior posts on this blog – but because many were purchased at my Pop-Up events this holiday season as gifts, and provided in my container gardening and succulent topped pumpkin workshops of 2016 – it seems a good time to provide reminders on how to care for succulents.

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First and foremost – Succulents are tough, but not indestructible!

How tough?

Well, you can glue gun them to projects – and they “may” shoot out roots a few weeks or months later – still surviving! Wow! Amazing. But this is not too surprising if you know how they are propagated, which I show in my workshops to attendees. After all, we cut many plants at the base and allow them to heal over before planting them up – but let’s get back to “how tough…”

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So tough that using a bit of glue to attach them to projects will not kill them – isn’t that crazy? – and this is why we are seeing them upon pumpkins in the fall, as corsages for weddings, and on many artsy projects. The uses are endless today.

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Initially, I thought this gluing technique was pure “plant abuse” but after testing it out – and witnessing the roots coming out of the succulents on my prototype succulent topped pumpkins from the fall – which, to this day are still doing well since October, I learned to accept these little toughies really rock it on crafty projects. They seem to have transitioned to not only being a living art but non-living art which has grown to be accepted and adored. And it feels a bit of going to the dark side as a plant enthusiast, because in general, I don’t like plants which are over-decorated (e.g., paint on plants or sprayed weird unnatural colors), but in this case, it works and since the plants don’t die – well, its okay.

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Succulents are also tough enough to handle low temperatures and not die – thus, you may put them in a room as low as 50-55 degrees F and they will make it, maybe even 45 in winter (for some but not all). They typically go into a semi-dormant state in the winter months and just sit there and rest. They may not look “as plump” but when temps warm up and you begin a regular watering routine in the spring and early summer, they will plump back up usually.

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Additionally, they almost can take freezing – just kidding, BUT I decided to attach succulents to my custom fresh wreaths this year- and well, if hung on a door where it gets cold but sunny and are protected by a glass door – they fared just fine.  I even put succulents as ornaments in my Christmas tree (shown above). It is so pretty. The colors of succulents from cool blues to red-tinged edges are a nice compliment to our holiday colors of greens, golds, silvers and flashy sparkling reds.

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As far as freezing – Nope, they will die if exposed to freezing temperatures – but you know what I think it kind of interesting? If they freeze, they still look good. Most plants look like total mush when they freeze.

I ended up putting a wreath on a sled for decor that had a few succulents on them. After a cold day when it snowed, they froze solid – but they didn’t even “look dead.” I had to touch them to see if they were mushy but they were frozen solid and kept in their original form. When using succulents purely as a decorate element, this is a plus. Think of it this way if you are not convinced, how often have you ate an expensive dessert only to see if disappear before your very eyes? Most plant lovers will absolutely refuse to let a plant die – but isn’t that better to have used it as decor, enjoyed it for weeks, rather than throwing it in the trash because it was unloved, un-purchased, and unused?

During the summer, another incredible aspect of succulents is they make the perfect vacation plant because they can go a very long time without watering due to their ability to store water in their leaves, stems and roots. You won’t come back to a dead plant – and you will feel relieved that you didn’t waste your money on a plant. “Look Mom, I didn’t kill my plant!”

With all of this said – succulents are not indestructible.

If you decide to store a hypertufa pot filled with the more hardy types of succulents over the winter in your unheated garage, cold basement or very cold room in your home, they still require some light and monitoring.

Basically, what I do is just give them a bit of moisture in the soil occasionally (like every 5 weeks or so). This way the soil isn’t completely bone dry throughout the ENTIRE winter. It is perfectly okay to let the soil dry almost completely “BETWEEN” waterings, and keep the watering to a minimum (I tell newbies – once a month in winter, on the soil, not on the foliage, meaning direct the water carefully, and let it drain.)

If your succulent is totally thin and papery after a few weeks or months, it may have parted and passed. This is usually when the soil is so dry for such a long time, the poor little baby gave up. Avoid the “crinkly” situation if possible. Avoid poor soil and total neglect if you wish to have it return to its beautiful state when the season warms up again in the spring and fall.

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If you have a decorative pot, like the ones I sold this year as grab n go gifts or hostess gifts, remove the inserted pot which has drain holes, add the water to the soil, and let the water drip out from the drain holes a bit, then put it back into the decorative pot.

Giving these babies out as gifts definitely puts smiles on the recipients faces, believe me. It felt like the feeling I got when I used to give out fresh eggs to friends, the same reaction – pure happiness. I guess because succulents are just so darn cute, adorable, collectible, and usable in many ways. And they aren’t easy to kill, unless you freeze them.

Another aspect which makes succulents and cacti tough – is they do not require lots of fertilizer. They only need small doses from time to time – which I show attendees what I use and how in my container gardening workshops. They seem to be the type which thrive when neglected. After all, their origins are the deserts and hot arid places – they built up tolerance over the years of dealing with drought, wind, and dryness.

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How to Pot them Up

Most succulents will go a very long time in their original home, but if and when you do pot it up, the most important thing to remember is very well-draining soilless media with perlite for excellent drainage. Also, I also recommend pots with drainage holes.

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The plants typically have a shallow root system. Long and wide pots work well, but they may go in tall pots too if that is the look you are going for. After you pot them up, water them in so the soil is moist. They must get acclimated to their new home – especially important in the growing seasons to move them into a moist environment initially. And remember, many have spines (well, at least for cacti like Agave). They are tricky to re-pot when large, and require special tools and handling. But for the tiny small sweet ones, they are easy to handle and re-pot.

And, as noted above, the thing that kills succulents the fastest is over watering. You want the soil to dry out between waterings. Allow the excess water to drain from the pot. Avoid water sitting on the foliage where it will create rot.

If attached to the top of pumpkins, you must moisten the moss every few weeks, and be careful not to damage the decor. If the pumpkin starts to decay, cut the top off and set the portion with the succulents into soil. The succulents will take root when they begin to extend their roots in search of a new home – in most cases! No guarantees here folks, as I said, they are tough but not indestructible.

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Sun or shade

Believe it or not – some succulents (and cacti) prefer some part to full shade, but most in general are sun or bright light lovers. Read the label if your’s came with one and pick the best spot to suit its needs. There are literally thousands of varieties. In the winter months, a bright room works well. They are tough, and usually won’t die if the light is not super bright.

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Babies

Lastly, succulents are great baby-making machines. They produce offsets from the mother plant (little ones on the side) and it is so easy to remove them and re-pot or reuse on your decorative endeavors this way. Many succulents actively grown in the fall, so before winter hits – it may be a good time to collect those babies. By the way, if you see the Mother Plant shoot out a tall alien looking stem with a flower – you might be thinking, “Wow, it’s flowering” and then all of a sudden, the mother plant dies and shrivels up – and you think,”Oh My God. I killed it.” – Not! The mother plant dies after she produces a bloom, but the beauty is her little side shoot babies carry on the tradition of growing on the family. Just carefully remove the dead parts of the mamma plant and you are still in business.

Creations with Succulents

I’ve used succulents so many ways this year – some which I didn’t want to share online because they were so darn adorable – I preferred “revealing” them at the Holiday Pop Up Events held and plan to add them to the holiday workshops of next season in 2017, so that all my attendees will have fun creating with succulents too.

Well – its only 3 more days until Christmas, and I am still doing my last-minute holiday shopping. Got to run for now…

Cathy Testa
Owner of “Container Crazy CT” and “Cathy T’s Landscape Designs”
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

 

 

 

Autumn Brings Closure and Changes

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Good morning everyone,

It has become quite the busy month as I started to dissemble my various container gardens around the property in preparation for the cooler season, and held an impromptu pumpkin succulent session with my Insiders Club workshop members.

Usually our frost date hits around mid-October, so there is still time to enjoy many container gardens filled with your tropical plants, perennials, and maybe a still producing vegetable plant, like peppers – but soon enough, all will come to an end when the frost hits the foliage of our tender plants.

However, one of the beauties of container gardening is not all is lost. Many plants may be overwintered by storing their storage organs (rhizomes, corms, bulbs, etc.) or by taking cuttings and rooting them. Or by moving them (perennials) to your gardens. Some plants make good house plants too, such as succulents, begonias, etc. The list goes on.

Another thing that will keep me busy this month is planting my fall bulbs, as soon as I clear out my favorite place for them, from the lush tropical plants enjoying their last moments in the great outdoors. There is much to do still.

Lastly, the annual Holiday Kissing Ball and Wreath Making Workshop is in my beginning planning stages. Orders will take place very soon for the beautiful mix of fresh greens to be provided in my workshop for all the registered attendees.

Additionally, I’m investigating adding ‘horse head’ wreath frames, due by popular demand by my repeat (non-newbie) attendees! This is always an exciting time for me. It will be my 7th Annual Kissing Ball Workshop. It is one of my most favorite things to do as part of my business and it closes off the year absolutely perfectly. Don’t forget to register early. Details are on my WORKSHOPSCT.com website.

 

#containgardening #lemongrass #thaifood

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Lemongrass harvest (above) after dissembling two big pots of them. These can be rooted or cut to put in teas, soups, and I bet even soaps! As you work at splitting the root of this plant, the aroma is oh so good.

The rooted divisions may be potted up into 12″ x 12″ pots and grown to serve as next year’s thriller plant in your container gardens. Or, the edible lower portions saved may be frozen and used for months on end – great for teas to treat coughs and colds too, I read. I showed all the steps on how to take it out of your container gardens and save the pieces via my Facebook feed this week as Facebook Live videos and on Instagram.

#autumn #overwinteringplants #lemongrass #tropicalgardens #containgardening

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#lemongrass #tropicalgardens #containgardening #coolplants #lushgardens

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The removal of this plant (Cymbopogon citrathus; lemongrass) should be done before frost, by the way, unlike the Canna or Elephants Ears (Colocasia) which may be done either before or after frost if you plan to store their storage organs.

#overwinteringplants #autumn #movinginplants #containergardening

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Using my handy-dandy hand truck, I’ve managed to move some rather large pots into my garage to start some the work of taking cuttings of Coleus, digging out the elephants ears, and whatever others I can save for next year’s season. I showed it all on my video feeds, and I have to say, this elephants ear, Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, was just stunning with 3′ long stems and 23-28″ leaves! Say Ah. One client requested the leaves for her leaf casting project, and I am happy to help her out as a repeat workshop attendee. Maybe she will teach us a class on the leaf casting when she perfects her technique.

#overwinteringplants #autumn #movinginplants #colocasiablackmagic on Oct 5 before frost

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This plant’s rich black leaves are luscious. Colocasia ‘Black Magic’ can take sun to part shade, and I had this one more in shade this year, facing north. The total height was about 5′ feet by the end of the season, and the soil was kept moist, which is preferred by elephants ears. Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ is a wonderful tropical plant, and probably will be on my list again for the annual May Container Gardening Workshops.

#takingcuttings #containergardening #movinginplants #autumn #overwinteringplants #colocasia #coleus

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In my Facebook Live videos this week, I also went over cuttings, how to clean your tools, and using rooting hormone to stimulate growth. Cuttings do best when they are in warmer temperatures – so inside the home or if you have a grow room or greenhouse is best this time of year. Always important to use “healthy” stock and take them from the tips of the plants (below nodes, etc.). Of course, the types of plants, species, etc. differ on how to handle propagation, but once you learn how, you may be reusing your mother plants again and again for freebies each season. Beware of plant propagation laws, however, if you are a seller of plants – a license is required!

#overwinteringplants #autumn #containergardening #coleus

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One container garden which is very hard to part with at this moment is this one. OMG. I just love it – it is soooo full. It is the apple of my eye this season. I removed the variegated Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus coleiodes). My friends, this plant is a real keeper in my book. No bugs, no diseases, no problems. It is the one dripping down the front of this pallet planter box salvaged from a company that tossed it out.

Variegated Swedish Ivy can grow to a foot or more with a trailing in habit. It keeps going and stays strong. It has a funky smell but it doesn’t bother me at all. My nephew told me it smells like a cologne. OK, whatever, it is a keeper, and handles cooler temps in my low-temp grow room over the winter. I still have to work on the rest of this container which has an elderberry, coleus, begonia, and more.

#carex #overwinteringplants #containergardening

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In my first Facebook Live video, I showed Carex grasses and how I’ve had it in these pots along my driveway for at least 3 years. Sometimes plants which may be aggressive in the ground are excellent candidates for containers, thus this was one to show how I take care of it and store it over the winter.

And alas, it was succulent pumpkin time prior to all of this. My goal was to have a huge workshop on October 8th, but not enough attendees signed up. So, I spontaneously offered a special workshop to my Insiders Club workshop members, and the results were fantastic.

There are a couple ways to approach making these which I detailed in our workshop session. We will be testing the longevity of these and report back next year when I hope to repeat this workshop with an even larger group. In addition, during this workshop, I went over how to propagate succulents and keep them healthy in season and over the winter.

#sempervivum #agave #pumpkindecorating #succulents #autumn

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#pumpkindecor #succulents #autumndecor #containercrazyct #workshops

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#containergardens #autumn #succulents #pumpkindecorating #agave #sempervivum

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#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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Above made by an attendee. Love the little glass acorns and the pods she brought along as embellishments.

#pumpkindecor #succulents #autumndecor #containercrazyct #workshops

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#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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#workshops #containercrazyct #autumndecor #succulents #pumpkindecor

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This one above is the winner for the evening. Absolutely gorgeous, great colors, well designed. Good job, Diane!

#crafting #diy #autumn #succulents #pumkins

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Here’s a photo I took of one I made as a prototype before the workshop.

#pumkins #succulents #autumn #diy #crafting

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Yes, it is so adorable. I can’t part with it!

Well, I still have much, much more work, and thankfully I am not dealing with a hurricane. The poor folks in Florida are facing this battle and along the way I thought of them often this week as I worked on my containers. I remembered when we experienced our crazy winter storm in October years ago, and well, probably not nearly as devastating – but it did impact us a great deal with loss of electricity and other damage, and I had to rush to put away my plants at that time as the snow began falling. I saw posts of Florida friends not only boarding up their homes, but they were rushing to take care of their gardens too in preparation for the hurricane. And some had to evacuate! We are all praying they did not face as much devastation as predicted.

Lots of #overwintering #overwintering #overwinteringplants #tropicalplants #canna #colocasia #ensete

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If you wish a hands-on experience of the overwintering steps, feel free to join me on October 15th for the workshop where I will show more.

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (texts welcome)
http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com

#autumncleanup #overwinteringplants #containergardening #colocasiablackmagic #colocasia #colocasiaesculenta

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Cool app transforms photos from your iPhone to this!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strong Family Farm Hosts Today’s Workshop

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

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

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

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Today’s Container Gardening Workshop

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

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

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The Plants

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

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The Timing

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

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The Prep

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

The Fretting

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

The Dedication is for Attendees

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

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After the Workshop – Attendees Get Details

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

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

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

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Hope to See You

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

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

Container Garden Workshop_0005

Succulents for Weddings – How to Care for Them

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Have you noticed how wedding flowers are transitioning to include succulents or herbs in decorative small containers as wedding favors, table centerpieces, boutonnieres and embellishments on a bride’s wedding gown?

No longer are there strict rules on wedding traditions – Many brides are incorporating their own unique style or taste into their choices of arrangements. They may even put flowers on their dog walking down the aisle if they are a dog lover! Or use vegetables as a table centerpieces. I envy the brides of today – so many interesting ways to celebrate and the trends are expanding.

See HUFFPOST WEDDINGS article, dated January 21st, 2016, titled “14 Out of the Box Wedding Trends You’ll Soon Be Seeing Everywhere.

So, when a professional blogger by the name of Meredith of Bride169 contacted me to ask questions about how to care for succulents should you receive them as a wedding favor – I was not surprised at all to receive this question and very happy to reply.

I’ve been seeing succulents (among other choices) via Instagram and Pinterest being used in floral arrangements and as wedding favors. They are absolutely beautiful and unique. Plus, the other big bonus is they are living plants which last a long time after the wedding reception is over – maybe even years – thus, it is a great option for your wedding guests.

About Bride169

Bride169 focuses on “Celebrating all things Connecticut weddings. From proposal to honeymoon and beyond, Bride169 is your go-to source for all things bridal in CT.”

To read her blog post, click the link below:

How to Care for Your Wedding Succulents by Bride169