A Whopper of a Begonia

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Last year (2022), I decided to try out a new begonia plant in a planter on a balcony overlooking the city with an impressive view. Each season, I change up the “filler plants” in the large planters at this site and I must consider environmental factors such as extreme winds, strong full sun half the day, potential lack of watering, and flowers staying on the plant (not being blown away by the winds which are intense from time to time).

When I returned in the early autumn season, I was very impressed with the massive size and performance of this cultivar. It grew from a small starter size plant to this massive, impressive size and the color intensity of the blooms was very vivid and bright along with its darker colored glossy foliage. I definitely gasped in awe of how beautiful it looked when I walked out onto this high-rise balcony.

On each side of the planter with the begonia plant, I planted various herbs, which as you can see, grow quite well in this location. Each planter is filled with soil mix and receives a good amount of growing space below. The owners of this site are very good at watering the plants as needed as well. In addition, begonias are tropical or subtropical plants, so they do well in hot locations and bloom throughout the summer here in Connecticut, but because they are not hardy to our planting zone, they must be taken down or overwintered before frost hits them during the autumn season.

These clients like color on their balcony, and this begonia did not fail. Its growth habit is mounding, and its shiny leaves are a bronze color (another bonus); I love when plants offer darker tones to serve as contrasting colors in mixed arrangements in container gardens or planters, patio pots, etc. The flowers look a little orange toned here in my photo, but they are a vibrant red color. The other bonus about begonias, in general, is that they can take sun or partly shady sites. This site receives full sun in the mornings followed by shade in the afternoons once the sun is hidden by the tall building. The overall height of the begonia reached was about 24″. That is a whopper of a begonia, and that is the name of this one: Begonia ‘Whopper Red with Bronze Leaf’.

Photo by Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT. Begonia with herb planters on each side.
Photo by Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT. Begonia ‘Whopper Red with Bronze Leaf’

Another added benefit of the size of this begonia was it was visible from within the home. Nothing like seeing color when you are enjoying the expansive views from the large windows of your living spaces.

What I like about this plant above! The fleshy stems can break when you remove it however, but that was fine as I was taking it down at the end of summer or very early fall to prepare for an autumn planting.

Above is a PDF I found online by Southern Living Plant Collection for your reference.

Thank you for visiting!

Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT
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Checking in on My Alocasia Corms and Tubers


About two weeks ago, I decided to check on my stored corms and tubers of my Alocasia plants. They are stored in my basement in cardboard boxes over the winter months from about October until April.

I stored them differently this fall because last year, the corms/tubers had some rot spots on them when I took them out in springtime to replant them. The new storing process I used in the fall of 2022 was documented in my prior post below on this blog site.

Post from October 2022 of how I stored my Alocasia corms and tubers for winter above.


In late February, of this year, 2023, I decided to check in on the stored tubers and corms. And I’m happy to report that they are doing well. No rot spots. The change I made was to not use peat, use newspaper, and use mesh bags to insert the corms/tubers into individually and put in a cardboard box (instead of a plastic bin). I also cut air holes into the sides of the cardboard boxes.

Largest one – when I stored it in October (photo above).

The cardboard box used.

Appearance of the largest Alocasia tuber in February 2023 (5 months since storing).

As you can see from the photos above, the tuber of my largest Alocasia now has a papery covering. There are no rot spots and there is a bit of green, showing signs of life – it is doing well. This one, due to its size, would not fit into a mesh bag, so I just laid it on top of the newspaper. You will also notice when comparing the photo from October and the photo from February, the whole tuber shrunk a bit as it dried out, which is fine and normal.

Close Up Photo (Feb 2023)
Smaller tubers (October 2022)

The photo above is of smaller tubers and corms which I had dug up in the fall. These are still green, and I laid them out for about a week to dry out more in the fall, removed all the soil debris, and inserted those which would fit into mesh air hole like bags, and then placed them in a smaller box, with newspaper padding around, and loosely closing the box to allow air circulation, in addition to making some air slits in the side of the boxes.

Smaller tubers in this box
Mesh bags shown on the right in this photo

I’m happy all looks fine so far. The place where I stored them is in my unheated basement that does not go below freezing but is cold during the winters. This year, we have had a mild winter thus far. Thus, the basement may be a little warmer than usual. I’ll look forward to when I can take these out in April or maybe May to get started in small pots to induce growth and then transition them yet again to my containers in late May to enjoy all summer.

Inserted into Mesh Bags, then placed in cardboard boxes in the fall season.

How it Grows

This photo shows a few years back. The plants are starting to grow and gives you an idea of the Alocasia’s form. This one grows upright and is a jumbo variety.

In the first couple years, the size of the plants did not grow as large as later as the tuber/corm grew larger and larger. As you can see in the next photo, the height of the leaves are taller.

Every summer season, I use different fillers plants. This particular jumbo Alocasia is so worth saving and regrowing. It seems to become more dramatic every year.

The stalks of the leaves are usually about 3 feet long along with the leaves growing 3 feet too.

The plant usually looks like this in the fall season, when I’m getting ready to cut it down and dig it out. I’ve documented the process many times.

Post when I took some of the plants out of a larger planter.

Shown above are various posts as I overwintered the tubers and corms of my Alocasia plant (and plants as a result of more tubers over time). The process I used before, with peat and bins, had worked perfectly for other plants such as Canna Lily rhizomes and Red Banana Plant bases, but for this type of Alocasia plant, it seems better to store them more in a dry state, the way I showed above in the paper and in cardboard boxes, etc.

I hope this helps anyone out there who stores their tubers and corms over the winter. I’m in CT planting zone 6b. Our winters are becoming warmer due to global warming here in CT, and this year has been particularly mild. We got a snow fall this week but we haven’t plowed our driveway once yet – its been warm enough some days to work outside and other days, a bit chilly. We have not snow showed yet and it is March!

Upright Jumbo Alocasia

I purchased my first tubers of this type of plant in 2018 or 2019. These types of elephant ear plants love sun and do fine in partial shade as well. They are dug out in fall and replanted in my container gardens every spring (after spring frost), as soon as it is warm enough outdoors – usually around Memorial Day. I start them in small nursery pots inside to get started and it easy to keep them growing well each season. Because this plant is tropical, it can’t be left outdoors through our winters or freezing temperatures. In the fall, you can let frost hit the tops or cut them down before fall frost. It turns out storing them in paper has worked better to keep them dry and safe. This plant grows up to 72 to 92 inches tall. I plant the tubers about 4-5″ deep and enjoy their dark green glossy upright leaves all summer. They are a real showstopper if someone hasn’t seen them before. I think the mistake I made was I treated these the same as my Canna Lily rhizomes and red banana plant bases, but it is handled somewhat differently. Live and learn – that’s the life of plant enthusiasts!

Thank you for visiting.

Cathy Testa
Broad Brook, CT

My First Jumbo Boston Fern

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I’ve purchased various ferns many times over the years, some for outdoor shade garden growing such as the Maidenhair Fern, and some as fillers in my container gardens, such as the adorable small round leaved Button Fern. I love Maidenhair Ferns for their delicate stems and unique growing style, and I liked Button Ferns for their contrasting bright green color against the darker tones of other plants in mixed container arrangements. I also have rather enjoyed Staghorn Ferns, grown on boards or other hanging structures, for their unique display. I also love using various smaller ferns in hanging baskets mixed with other green foliaged houseplants, as shown in my gallery on Smugmug. However, typical Boston Ferns were not on my personal fav’s list, until last year.

Photos above (left to right): Gray hanger with mixed houseplants and a button fern; Outdoor Barrel planter with rubber tree and button fern; Hanging basket top view with button fern and other houseplants.

Typical Boston Fern

I purchased a typical Boston looking fern on a whim as I was entering a grocery store when I saw a bulk of them recently delivered and sitting outdoors at the front of the store. (Tip: Look them over – Do they look healthy? Was it a recent delivery? Or are they stressed? Also remember to look under the leaves, or in this case, under the fronds to see of any rot or insects (look for white fuzzy looking spots which could be mealy bugs), or in the case of ferns, don’t panic with ferns if you see brown symmetrical dots on the undersides of the fronds – those are naturally occurring spores on “some types” of ferns and are not insects! However, overall, these looked great at that moment of spotting them.)

Jumbo Boston Fern

Looking closely at the label in this photo, it indicates it is a Jumbo Boston Fern. I didn’t realize that until later as this fern grew rather large in one summer season. The reason I thought I should get one is because I had read that someone overwintered them easily in a low-temp greenhouse so I thought this is a good candidate for overwintering, similar to my Agaves, which don’t mind some lower temps for a few months and can ride it out till summertime in my low temp greenhouse (Note: I live in Connecticut Zone 6b).

Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata) are a commonly known plant and people typically display them in hanging baskets inside the home or on porches in the summer. Because ferns like humidity, they can be tricky to keep healthy over the winter inside a home, but so far, the one I purchased last season which is hanging in my low-temp greenhouse, is looking pretty good and well, “hanging in there” for the time being.


I decided last year I would hang it from a big maple tree in my backyard when I scored this super big hanger at a nursery. Using standard potting mix and adding some balanced slow-release fertilizer in the potting mix, I planted it and cranked it up via a cable system my husband installed for birdfeeders from the tree’s branches. We hadn’t been using it for feeders anymore due to pesty squirrels, so now it was the perfect set-up for my new Jumbo Boston Fern.

Because ferns prefer filtered light, and many come from a natural habitat of shady forests or trees in moisture loving places, growing under a tree was a good location. Plus, it was so large, along with the hanger, it was enjoyable to view this big hanger and plant from my deck. At one point, a bird tried to create a home on the side of the planter, creating an entrance in the moss, but soon the bird realized this was not going to work because of the watering. I felt badly but I figured he or she would get the message and move on which he or she did.

During the winter, the location of this fern has been inside my low-temp greenhouse. Fortunately, the hanging baskets hanger and chain is strong enough to support it – it grew two-three times the size of the original plant by the end of the summer.

Grew Fast and Larger

The plant grew from a standard hanging basket size to a monster size. I had forgotten it was labeled as a “Jumbo” Boston fern so true to its name, it got jumbo size for sure. It is so heavy I feared the hanger would not support it in the greenhouse, but my trusty husband assured me it was fine. I also read that ferns have shallow, fibrous roots that fill the surface of containers quickly, so pots should be as wide as they are deep (which is the case with the big hanger I scored – I think it is about 2 ft wide on the top and it is certainly large in the bottom. It has plenty of growing space and by the end of the summer, it almost filled this big hanger.).

Watering and Moisture

To water it as it hung from the tree was not too difficult. I would just take my hose from the deck and point a strong spray of water to it and do that at least once a month. Boston ferns like constant light moisture and I enjoyed watering it as needed. I could have added some peat moss to the potting mix, but I felt that may make the whole thing too heavy, so I only used regular potting mix (as noted earlier). During this winter, as it hangs in my low-temp winter greenhouse, I have been careful not to water it too often because I don’t want it to rot. I have not misted it but one day, when the sun was out and the greenhouse was very warm for a winter day, I showered it with water from the hose, wetting the fronds, inside the greenhouse knowing it would enjoy a mist of showering moisture which would dry by end of the day due to it being a sunny day. I would not have done that on a cloudy winter’s day. Otherwise, I have watered it only occasionally in the greenhouse, and water spills out the bottom draining well. Note that these ferns can be messy indoors, dropping or shedding bits of the drier fronds, and plus watering it makes a big spill so in the greenhouse, that hasn’t been an issue for now. I will have to clean up shedding from the floor before spring, so it doesn’t create other problems in the greenhouse but otherwise, it has been fine. Some common places to hang this type of fern indoors may be a bathroom which is usually cooler and has some humidity but again, hangers can make a mess when watering, etc.

Temperature Inside and Out

I read the temperature preference of Boston ferns is below 60 degrees F at night indoors and during the day about 70 degrees F indoors. In the summer, they adapt to a range of temperatures of 80-85 degrees F during daytime outdoors. My winter greenhouse is kept at about 50 degrees F and so far, it has adapted well. Note though however we have had a mild winter so far. Some of the fronds have dropped a bit of dry pieces, but otherwise it is showing signs of life and is staying healthy. I will have to watch out for when temps ramp up in the greenhouse when spring arrives so I do not burn the leaves and may have to move it to a shadier spot (maybe under a shade cloth in the greenhouse, or under a protected shelf) before transitioning it outdoors in late May or early June. Right now, it is hanging fairly close to the ceiling, and I realize this may be too hot when we gain more sun in the springtime. Again, references indicate most ferns grow best in normal or cool room temperatures (difference of about 10 degrees F between day and night mimics the conditions they experience in the wild). Dry heat, which occurs in homes during the winter, is not preferred by ferns.

Fertilizer and Propagation

References in some of my garden books indicate that Boston ferns should be fed every two weeks with a balanced house plant food mixed at half the normal strength. I did not do any feeding of that nature last year, but we will see how it does this year, and perhaps will do so. I don’t believe in over feeding plants and try to determine their needs based on conditions, experience, and growth. Also, from what I read, divisions of the plant from the parent clump may be done in springtime so I will look to see if I can divide it then as needed.

Thank you for visiting!

Cathy Testa
860-977-9473 (texts welcome)
http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com (you are here now!)
https://cathytesta8619.smugmug.com/ (Cathy’s Photo Galleries)

Date of this post: 3/1/2023

An Obsessed Container Gardener
A Container Garden Installer
A Plant Lover
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A “Can’t Stop Taking Pics of Plants Person!”

Button Fern in a Mixed Planter
The size of the Jumbo Boston Fern before I planted it in the bigger hanger last summer.

The photo above is what this Jumbo Boston Fern looked like when I first got it. Then it grew two to three times larger!

The fern today in the greenhouse during winter 2023.

Growing Ground Cherry Plants from Seed

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Last year (2022) was the first time I tried out Ground Cherry plants, grown from seed, and I rather enjoyed the sweet fruit produced on the plant from summer till autumn.

They were easy to grow, but the seeds can be slow to germinate, and it is recommended to use a heat mat to start the seeds, which I did.

The packets for the type I grew, called Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry, indicates you should start the seeds 3 to 8 weeks indoors before your last spring frost.

The document above is one I put together last year, using some photos from the web when I was letting people know I had seed packets available. The photos below are from my own photos as I grew this plant on my deck last year.

Flower and Fruit

This is a great photo of the flowers and fruit forming. The flowers were tiny (like the size of a dime coin) and somewhat pretty with the dark edges. The fruit grew to about the size of a larger blueberry or smaller marble on my plants. I expected them to be bigger, but they were not. However, they were very tasty and made a nice snack, and there was always plenty of a supply dropping from the plant when they were ready.

Plant Size and Shape

Even though this plant is a relative of tomatoes, it seems more like a distant relative – the leaf shape is different, and the growing habit is more of an upright to sprawling bushy look – so it has spreading out habit. I noticed the plants grown in my cousin’s community garden plot spread out lower than the plant I grew on my deck in a 15-gallon fabric grow bag. The plant was about 24″ high and wide. And it prefers full sun conditions like tomatoes do to grow best.

Fruit is Ready when Falls to the Ground

The husked fruit starts to drop to the ground, and that is when you know they are ready. This makes it a great exercise plants, bend down, reach up! I found the fact I grew it on the deck to be handy. I didn’t have search around below and it was obvious where the fruit landed. However, my cousin’s plants in a garden had some straw below the plants, so it was difficult for them to locate the ripe fruit. After a while, I knew when the fruits were about to drop by the look of them and timing and would pick some from the plants before they fell off. The papery husks are removed before eating. The flavor is like a citrusy pineapple flavor (at least it was to me).

With the chair in this photo, it gives you an idea of the size of the plant. I didn’t really need to stake it. The branches did not flop over. A chipmunk discovered the fruit later in the season and I let him have his fill because I had eaten plenty of the fruit over the course of the summer, into early fall. It was one of the last plants I disassembled from my deck once the season was over. It lasted a very long time.

Interesting Insect

I noticed some holes in the leaves and discovered the culprit. This insect carries poop on his back – yup, as a camouflage. I cannot remember the name of it, but I know I looked it up last summer. I also sprayed something (again, can’t recall) but I also just tolerated the little buggers. They were tricky to find. They didn’t ruin the fruit, so it wasn’t too difficult to tolerate the weird looking insects.

Easy to Grow and Produces Fruit for a Long Time

This plant was very easy to grow. The fruit is very sweet, and I ate them as a snack when I would be outside watering plants, or whatever. They may be used in jams and such. I have tasted larger sized ground cherries from a farm once, they were about the size of cherry tomatoes, so I was surprised these were much smaller, marble sized. They have a seedy consistency inside as well, but I loved the flavor. It was an unusual plant as well as an unusual flavor. The packet indicates the fruit is ready 70 days from transplant. I still have some seed packets available if anyone nearby is interested ($5/pack). Each packet contains 50 seeds. I think they are worth growing. Kids like them too – since they are lower to the ground, they are easy for kids to pick up while out in the garden with you.

The botanical name for Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry is Physalis pruinosa.

Thanks for visiting.

Cathy Testa
Plant Blogger
Broad Brook/East Windsor, CT
See me on http://www.WorkshopsCT.com and http://www.ContainerGardensCT.com too!

Have a great weekend!

Growing Your Own Tomatoes and How to Start

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Growing your own tomatoes is one of the most rewarding things you can do if you love the flavor of fresh tomatoes. Each bite brings joy – seriously.

But where do you start?

Well, probably the first things are you need the seeds, and of course the growing supplies, but you also need to have an understanding of timing – when to start your seeds so they are ready in time for planting outdoors after frost periods in spring – so for us in CT, to make it simple, outside safe planting is late May (usually Memorial Day). Note: Areas of CT have different scenarios but in general, Memorial Day is usually when it is warm enough and induces great starts of your tomato plants.

I was trying to think of when I started my own journey of growing tomato plants from seed. I think it was spurred when I saw seed packets with artful packaging that I decided to buy some of those packets and get started studying and researching on the steps involved to grow them. I did lots of reaching online, got books, you name it.

I don’t think learning all the aspects of seed growing is necessarily difficult, but it does take some time to learn all the nuisances around seed growing. Like, for example, if you start sowing indoors too early, you will have plants too big and realize you can’t move them outside yet because it is too cold in early spring, then you are struggling with how to care for them inside. If you start too late, your plants may not produce tomatoes in time during the summer and you would be disappointed.

If you search this blog site, you can find more details about my process. Here are some links below.

Note: February is a good time to plan, because some tomato seeds are started in March.

When To Sow Seeds: https://containercrazyct.com/2021/01/29/when-to-sow-seeds/

How Many Seeds Per Packet: https://containercrazyct.com/2021/01/26/how-many-seeds-per-packet/

Easy Seeds to Sow are Lettuce Seeds: https://containercrazyct.com/2021/02/18/easy-seeds-to-sow-are-lettuce-seeds/

Seeds Arrived on Time: https://containercrazyct.com/2021/01/20/seeds-arrived-on-time/

All You Need to Know About Starting Seeds: https://containercrazyct.com/2021/01/15/all-you-need-to-know-about-starting-seeds-indoors/

Planning Ahead is Required If you Wish to Grow from Seed: https://containercrazyct.com/2019/02/21/planning-ahead-is-required-if-you-want-to-start-plants-from-seeds/

Tomato Seedling Stages: https://containercrazyct.com/2021/02/15/tomato-seedling-stages/

I probably have more posts about seed growing on this site, just type the word “seeds” in the search bar, and they should pop up. Or you may want to type in the word tomatoes.

I do all of my growing of the starter plants (grown from seed) in large grow bags, large patio pots, etc. But we do want a “real garden” of the ground here someday, which will be a big job because it will need to be fenced in. We have a river behind our house, and it attracts lots of wild animals, etc. I love container gardening and have been very successful growing tomatoes in pots – they just should be large enough pots and watered and placed in sunny areas, and oh yah, have drainage!

This year 2023 – some things are changing:

I have decided I am not going to grow my tomato plants – for those of you who buy them from me – read that again, I am NOT going to grow them. It has to do with the fact that I have a trip planned right when it is the most important time to monitor the tomato starter plants. Someone said, hire someone. Well, not going to happen. LOL. First, I’m too small to hire anyone really. It would be too expensive, and second, my babies (the tomato starts) need ME. And I would probably stress about it and not enjoy my trip. Things like watering, inspecting, checking for any critters, opening the greenhouse doors on good days, rotating, all of that takes time and I usually visit my plants twice a day when I grow from seed at the time I’ll be traveling.

So anyhow, I was browsing some photos of my tomatoes (the fruit) from last season, which made my mouth water, and caused me to want to share the photos so you have an idea of the seed packets I have in stock at this time. Should you be interested in buying seed packets, you know where to find me (referring mostly to locals who buy my plants typically). If someone wanted a bunch of packets mailed, ask and I’ll let you know. I also will give you additional information, like planting tips and guides.

Say hello to Goldie.

I grew this one for the first-time last year (2022) and wow, wow, wow. Goldie heirlooms have amazing flavor. Some who bought plants from me said it was the BEST one ever. It is an heirloom. Sweet flavor, melt in your mouth flavor. Because a squirrel or two discovered my plants on my deck in my pots, I did pick some early and let them ripen on my kitchen counter and that was totally fine. They know when they are ripe and take bites! So, a lot of times, I started to just pick them before they were completely Golden.

You can see in this photo of me holding one, it is not completely golden color yet. Heirlooms are cool, they have the odd shapes, and they are tasty.

Note in the background of the photo above are Long Island Cheese Pumpkins – I grew those for the first time this year with the help of my cousin who put some plants in her community garden. Mine were in pots. It has a shape perfect for my Succulent Topped Pumpkin arrangements in the autumn season, but they are also grown to eat in pies and soups. They must be direct sown or started early.

I have seed packets available for both – the Goldies and the Pumpkins noted above.

Fox Cherry Tomatoes above – These I have been growing for a few years. They are bigger cherries, noted for being able to easily put on a skewer to grill. Also, a popular favorite by folks, plus cherry tomatoes grow easily and produce tons of fruit. For beginners, try cherry tomatoes.

In this above photo, you see the Fox Cherry tomatoes next to some of the Goldie heirloom tomatoes as I picked them. And also in this yellow bowl is a Cherokee Purple Tomato. Also, a wonderful heirloom and early producer. Purple-hued, very nice coloring and as yummy as the best of them.

In the background, you can see some of the Ground Cherries (papery husk) which I also grew on my deck in a huge grow bag, wow, those lasted into the fall. They are a snacking one for me. I was grabbing a handful and eating away as I walked away. Those have a very pineapple like flavor. A chipmunk discovered my ground cherries and I let him have a ball with that, as there were plenty on the plant. Ground cherries tasted like a non-guilty candy snack to me. Interesting flavor and sprawls out as it grows.

Green Zebra – This one no one seemed interested in. I can see why – tomatoes with green and yellow patterns, but to me that is the fun of growing – trying new varieties! Just like vacations, I like to adventure to new places and see new things – same with my tomatoes, I guess. This one has a tangy like flavor and I love mixing colors and flavors so it was very cool one to try.

Tiny Tim Tomato – These fits small pots easily and are grape-like sized fruit, but last year, they grew larger fruit at times. We had a drought type year, and my plants went nutso producing fruit on my Tiny Tim pots in patio pots that were probably 10-12″ in diameter. I put the pots on high back chairs, so the squirrels or chipmunk did not bother them. Look at the clusters on these plants! They were filled big time last season. This one says to start early too on the packet.

Paul Robeson Tomato – I will have to locate the photos of this one but I also have packets available of Paul Robeson tomato seeds, they have a beefsteak size with amazing flavor and the fruit resists cracking. The color is orange to purple.

Bumble Bee Mix Cherry Tomato – I also have seed packets for these and will find a photo later to post. They are striped with yellow, purple hues, orange. Same size as Fox Cherry. Prolific producers as well.

For more information on the seed packets, just email or text me (see numbers below).

Also, remember, February is getting ready and then March is starting to sow “some” varieties, others start later.

Going to the Flower Show in Hartford this year? It starts on 2/23/23 which is next week, Thursday. That’s also a good time to get seeds or information packets – sometimes they hand out little seed starting charts for free. There will be plenty of growing supplies there to check out as well. Have fun if you go!

Thank you for visiting.

Cathy Testa
Blogger, Plant Lover
DMs on Facebook under handle of “Container Crazy CT”
Texts on number above.
Also, on Instagram under the handle of “Container Crazy CT”
Feel free to email me if you want – I’m old fashioned and still use emails! LOL.

See my other websites too:


Trail Cam Fun


We have been placing trail cameras (used to capture photos of animals roaming around our woodlands) for years on our private property. We have seen many deer, turkeys, bobcats, coyotes, and the past few years, great blue herons. Apparently, the herons love wetlands. Here are some recent photos we captured on our newest trail camera during this winter of 2023.

Isn’t he (or she?) a beauty? We are impressed by the quality of these trail camera photos. They are clear and the date and time is stamped automatically on the bottom of the photos. This trail camera was about $50 bucks from Cabela’s in East Hartford, CT. Not bad investment for lots of entertainment.

About two summers ago, I started to recognize the freakish sounds great blue herons make as they land into their nests. I would also see them fly above the tree line and do a few rounds in the sky before finding and landing into their nests. This is a special treat for me as I sit back watching this process from my deck with a glass of wine in hand. It feels like a special treat to witness these huge, magnificent bids. My very own nature show.

Stepping into the waters

My husband is very good at finding the perfect locations to place these cameras, but we also have to bear in mind that the land gets flooded at times, so it is important to not place them where the camera will be drowned in water and ruined.

Waiting for a fish?
Unaware we are spying on him.
Cool feathers
Talk about a perfect shot!
Maybe he sees the camera now?
Look at those wings!

To compare cameras, this photo below with the green grassy area was taken with an older trail camera we’ve had for several years. And I believe this was during the spring or summer, can’t recall.

And here’s another with our older trail cam, called Reconyx. I have to say that camera really lasted a long time and has survived some of those mistakes where it was under water. It still worked! I remember the first time I saw a bobcat in a trail cam photo; I couldn’t believe it! But now I see them often crossing our backyard. They are quite common in our neck of the woods in Connecticut. I also saw one stalking turkeys once – using one of my giant pots in the backyard to hide, that was something to witness, until he saw me and took off. And another time, one crossed our yard while we were grilling on our deck. Steve said he couldn’t believe how fast I grabbed my iPhone and filmed him. He seemed to be unaware he was only about 20 feet from us as he carefully but quickly crossed our yard from the edge of the woodlands.

And here’s another from the Reconyx trail cam. I wonder if the wild animals think these cameras are aliens?! They definitely check them out sometimes and they know something is going on, but they are not sure what.

And yes, another of a coyote. I actually saw two coyotes pass through my backyard last week. One had a very bad looking tail. The coyote in this photo from year 2021 in winter shows that he was very healthy looking. I’ve seen them stalk my chicken coop before when I had chickens. That is why no more chicken coop or chickens for us. They don’t take long to discover the chickens!

And another from 2021. Someone told me they didn’t think great blue herons stuck around for the winter, but they do. Or perhaps they just love the Testa Ranch, LOL!

This one was interesting – is the squirrel carrying its baby? It appears as such!

Well, that’s about it for my trail cam story – Hope you enjoyed the photos! We enjoy viewing them, especially during the winter months.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
A nature lover as well as a plant enthusiast waiting out winter.
Date of Post: 2/7/2023

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What Will the New Year Bring?


I don’t know!

As I sit here on December 30, 2022, I really don’t know what the new year will bring. Every time I think things will return to normal, it doesn’t.

Hopefully the new year will bring “new” things! We shall see.

No Tomatoes in 2023

Bad news first – I don’t think I will be growing my tomatoes this spring. Boo! I know!! But a potential trip will be timed exactly when I would be tending to the sprouted seeds, and I just can’t leave them be when I’m away. Taking care of new baby plants is time consuming, a daily activity of checking and monitoring them, and since I work solo, I don’t think I can grow them in 2023. When growing from seeds, there is so much involved in the “daily nursery aspect.” I open doors, close greenhouse doors, inspect the plants to make sure they are healthy, I move plants, put some under grow lights, move some, I monitor them – sometimes twice a day to maintain just the right moisture, and then there is the potting up phases! That definitely will be an activity missed in 2023, but maybe I can use that time to do some repair work in the greenhouse since it won’t be filled with seedlings. On the plus side, I will be having some type of seed packet sale – so stay tuned if you like heirlooms.

New Offerings?

Sometimes I ponder what new activity could I add to my small business offerings. I know the “organic” things which come to mind spontaneously cannot be forced! It is like it has to happen naturally. Like when you are standing in the shower, and some idea just magically pops into my head. That is usually how it happens. Hopefully a new idea will surface. There have been many in the past, like when I got totally consumed in growing sprouts in the home, remember that?!

Continue Summer Watering Services

I know I want to continue my new “Watering Services” in the heat of summer when people travel. I took care of a few gardens for homeowners and also watered a community garden plots last summer. It felt good to care for plants while someone was traveling and knowing they could relax knowing their plants would be fine and especially because mid-summer is a big harvest month. You need to water at that time, and this service is on my list to continue in the summer of 2023. If interested, look me up next summer, and I will be sure to send out reminders as well.

Container Gardening, of course, will Continue!!

Container gardening is always number one and I will continue to install patio pots, planters, dish gardens, and more at specific sites as best as I can. I’m getting older so lifting is getting harder. At least with container gardening I do not have to dig in the ground but lifting bags of potting soil mix or lifting pots and nursery pots is a thing. I need to work on building up strength so I can continue my passion with container gardening. And knowing to take your time when lifting, using hand trucks and thinking it through helps a great deal so you don’t strain anything.

Camper Style

We bit the bullet and got a small camper last year and absolutely loved it – but only got to use it once or twice, so next year, we hope we can adventure with that more during our off time. Got a recommendation for locations you love in the US for camping? Let us know. I never imagined I’d be a camper girl, but the relaxation of it and not worrying about flight problems, well, that sold me and my hubby. So, for the fun list – this will continue between work.

Seasonal and Holiday Decor

I can’t imagine going thru the fall or winter season without continuing some of my creations, such as the Succulent Pumpkins and my Holiday Wreaths. They were so fun to make this past year, and I thank you again for all your orders. It was a fast-paced Holiday and so much fun to create and handmake all the wreaths, garland, etc. I love the wreaths I made for myself too.

But More??

What more could I do with my business? Got a suggestion? Let me know. I know people still, once in a great while will ask if I still do workshops, and I don’t. I just don’t know if I could do those again, but who knows, right? We really don’t know what the future will bring. However, my stamina for the work involved in workshops faded. It was almost like throwing a baby shower or mini wedding event at times, as I did a great deal to set it up and make it happen, not to mention managing all the plants before after and during. Anyhow, it was good when they were happening, but as I get older, I find it more challenging to organize and run the workshops.

Hopefully the new year will be good to us, and we will discover new happenings which make us happy. I know working with plants keeps me happy and cheerful.

Have a great New Year’s Eve and Stay Healthy,

Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT
Located in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, CT

First Fluffy Snow

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Yesterday was our first fluffy snow fall, which I have to admit, made me happy. I can picture the soft white snow on the items I made for many holiday orders this year at people’s homes, such as Kissing Balls hanging outdoors, Patio Pots filled with holiday greenery, Garlands, Wreaths, and more. The snow is also a great way to add some moisture to the greens on the wreaths and such.

The past two weeks were extremely busy. As a one woman owned business, with a very helpful special Elf Helper, my hubby, we did it – installed and created holiday scenes for everyone. Today, I hope to make a nice big Boxwood Wreath. I show all my photos on my Instagram page under Container Crazy CT handle.

I want to take this morning to say THANK YOU to all the people who hired me to work on their holiday scenes and patio pots, and also to all who ordered a Wreath, Kissing Ball, or Garland this year. It puts me (and hopefully them) into the holiday spirit. I finally got to do some of my own outdoor decorating yesterday a little bit before the snow started to fall. But it is a real treat and a special thing for me to create Holiday Items for people – THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR SUPPORT – and pick-ups.

I also have to admit, I do stay inside a lot when people pick up their orders cause I’m so busy and can’t talk too long, plus I really really didn’t want to catch any colds or COVID during my work of holiday crunch time. But I find the “Pick-ups” are extremely useful and helpful to people when they are also doing their own rush holiday errands and they may pop by to get their handmade wreath with fresh greenery and other items quickly (Grab and Go!).

Next on the list is making some unique holiday pick-up gifts which are great for last minute shoppers, me included! I haven’t shopped at all yet for Christmas gifts on my own to-do lists. I never have the time in early December.

Hope you are enjoying this snow fall – it sure looks pretty from my office window – I can say that!


Cathy Testa
Container Garden Designer located in Broad Brook, CT



http://www.ContainerCrazyCT.com (Blog – You are Here).

Countdown to Christmas!

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Good morning everyone,

Yesterday, on the news, they said today is one of the busiest days for many small businesses offering holiday items, but we are expecting lots of rain and heavy winds today here in Connecticut, which may result in power outages. That’s okay, I can still make my custom wreaths in the dark with the woodstove going and candle light if need be.

Also, for some very odd reason, every year around now, my technology starts to give me trouble – why?! I Wonder?!! One year, my iPhone died completely at this busy holiday time, and I actually had to rush out to buy a new one – a present I wasn’t expecting; I remember feeling completely frustrated I had to do that.

This year, my iphone is not dinging when texts arrive (I seem to fix it once, and it is happening again), and my business Facebook page under Container Crazy CT seems to be doing weird things – Ugh, please holiday bad gremlin go away. Just like in the holiday movies, there is always that one bad spirit trying to steal the happiness of others – maybe that is my tech gremlin! I can’t let him do that though!!!

So, I am just reminding everyone the best way to reach me is a direct text or email works too! I’m busy making wreaths and offering my Holiday Box of Greens. Now is truly the best time to get this as the next week is busier than this week for me. As a one-woman owned business, with one very cute Elf Helper, a heads-up is very much appreciated!

Thank you,
Cathy Testa of Container Crazy CT

Four Weeks Till Christmas

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The festive holidays are starting off nicely this year. Thanksgiving Day was a beautiful day here in Connecticut, followed by Friday, which was a little misty and rainy at first but not terrible in regards to weather, then a beautiful sunny day on Saturday (a popular day to get your Christmas trees and start outdoor decorating, as well as hitting up Shop Small Saturdays for local businesses for gifts), and it looks like we will squeeze out at least another half day of no rain before rain again later in the day on Sunday, today.

This kind of nice cooler, non-rainy weather is helpful to me, because I will make at least 100 trips back and forth to my garage for my greens to make wreaths and prep items for holiday pots and planters during the next two weeks. I have to bundle going back and forth and if it is not raining, it sure helps. Even better is when there isn’t any ice on the driveway where I could potentially slip and fall. However, I don’t mind misty rain so much nor would I mind a “nice pretty snowfall” because it adds to the upcoming Christmas spirit we start to experience this time of year after Thanksgiving weekend.

This year is different, because things are just costing more. When you see an item priced a little higher, please just remember, it is not because anyone is taking advantage – at least not by small local businesses, it is because they are being charged higher too, and that is just the way it is this year. We all have to pick and choose what is important and valuable to us. In fact, we went to get our Christmas tree on Friday, and it was $75. All the trees in the lot were $75 regardless of size, where as a year ago, the place had no trees due to shipping issues, and the year before, I think it was $55. But you know what? We got a gorgeous tree at $75. It is so full and beautiful. Last night, I sat in-front of it with my husband and we admired the tree. It smells great in the house, the needles are firm, and it is full. I’m thinking I will sit in front of it every night instead of the television the next four weeks!

Anyhow, today is probably the day I will make my first custom wreath. And yesterday, was the day I boxed up my first greens box order. I am so very thankful for those who have placed orders thus far. Making each items brings me joy and a little worry too, cause I always worry – I know, not productive! BUT, it can be productive when you are planning and doing your best to have all the holiday “i’s” dotted and “t’s” crossed. But overall, once I get into the zen of making a wreath, it is all good!

We are now at week 4 – meaning four weeks before Christmas. Our weekend agendas will hopefully start to be filled with gatherings and/or festive activities, or perhaps it will be mellow. Not everyone has those big family gatherings, some are small and intimate. Maybe you feel lonely this year, due to a loss, or perhaps just because things are not panning out a certain way. Whatever the case, surround yourself with what makes YOU happy. Whether it be a wreath or a chocolate bar (hopefully hand made with really good chocolate), or in the case of a wreath, handmade with really good fresh greens! And pick those things which make others happy to – for those who are important to you.

One thing that makes me happy to offer is my Holiday “Box of Greens,” which is actually two boxes with 8 varieties of fresh holiday greenery per order. To learn more of the total list of varieties and contents, cost, etc., feel free to contact me soon! And get decorating alone or with friends. I’m located in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, CT and will be here every day this week and most of next. You may also visit me on, http://www.WorkshopsCT.com for additional details, photos, etc.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of your weekend! Hopefully today will be a day of rest for YOU!

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT