Succulent Pumpkins or Succulent Skulls

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Hi Everyone,

Just another heads-up!

We posted our second autumn workshop of the season and it has a groovy and spooky option in addition to the traditional succulent pumpkins centerpieces we have made in the past fall workshops.

We will be offering two options at our October workshops!

Succulent Pumpkins with Words

Swing on by to www.WORKSHOPSCT.com to learn more and get signed up early.

Here’s photos of what you may elect to make at our October workshops.

Skull with words

Skull Upfront Container Crazy CT

New this year – SUCCULENT SKULLS

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Succulent Topped Pumpkin

Pre-registration is required. See www.WORKSHOPSCT.com for the details of what is included, what you need to bring, and dates. We setup our workshops for flexibility on how many you want to make and how elaborate you want to make your creations. Contact me anytime for questions.

Thank you – Cathy T.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com
Located in Broad Brook, CT

 

Seeds and Such – In Container Gardens

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Good morning friends,

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

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

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

Couple Updates – I will have SEEDS available!

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

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

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

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

RESERVING A SEED PACKET

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

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All Grown From Seeds – Container Gardens Filled with Edibles

Free Handouts

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

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Yummy! Basil in Window Boxes.

Other Quickies – BERT’S BIRD HOUSES

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

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

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

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

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

CONTACT FORM – SEEDS OR BIRD HOUSES

 

Seeds and Such

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRIAL AND ERROR

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

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

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

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

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

FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU LIKE TO EAT

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

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

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

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

FEBRUARY IS TIME TO PLAN AND WAIT

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

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

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

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

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

WHERE TO GET SEEDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER SIDE HIGHLIGHTS – WEBINARS

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

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

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

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

PAST FB LIVES

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

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

2018 WORKSHOPS

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

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

Well, guess that is all for today.

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

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

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

Offering Workshops, Plant Gifts, and Container Gardens

 

 

 

Do you still want emails?

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Hello world!

How’s everyone doing today?

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

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

Is email out of favor?

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

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

And, I find my Instagram account is being viewed.

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

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

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

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

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

For now, know that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yup. I think it is important to know this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is “very” important to inspect your plants.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you,

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

 

Hello Sept One

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It is September 1st … already?

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

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

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

Brrr…

Thoughts going thru my mind…

What?! This is chilly.

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

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

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

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

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

Brr, it’s chilly. This is too soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The pool to close soon – really? Ugh.

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

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

This cool air of fall is all too soon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of these things get us thinking fall.

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

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

Let’s enjoy it…

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

P.S.

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

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

 

 

 

Thank you for Attending!

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

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

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

Mother's Day Social Media Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you,

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

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Address to Bookstore:

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

First Kokedama Workshop, and The Next

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Last Saturday was the first time I held a workshop on making botanical wall art and kokedama with staghorn ferns. I think it was a success – Everyone’s piece came out great and we had the best time chatting plants, spring’s coming, and life events in general.

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This Wednesday, March 22, I’m offering another session so I’m putting the call-out again. I hope I’m not driving everyone nuts with my Facebook posts, but they are just so amazing to make and my plants are beautiful – I’d hate for anyone interested to miss out!

IT’S SPRING, RIGHT?!

While snow is still on the ground on our first day of spring (officially today), we can create right now to enjoy the coming of glorious days ahead. It won’t be long; we are getting closer to sunny days and warmer temperatures.

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THE PIECE YOU MAY MAKE

Kokedama balls are hung from string or twine, and positioned inside the home by a bright window. They are very ZEN and influenced by Bonsai. The Wall Art is a statement piece and also the plant is a bright light (not full sun) lover. If you have a room with some bright light – it will thrive. Both may be moved outdoors after our frost in spring time (what I tell people is move them out when it is safe to plant tomatoes).

THE WORKSHOHP LOCATION AND TIME

The location of Wednesday’s session is at the BOOK CLUB Bookstore, 869 Sullivan Avenue, South Windsor, CT 06074 (bookclubct.com). I have been noting that it takes a full two hours to make the Wall Art option, but the Kokedama balls take less time – yet, are as much fun to create.

The start time is 5:30 pm for this workshop – however, if you are interested in making the Kokedama ball, and can’t get out of work right at 5:30 pm – you may arrive a bit later as this item takes less time to make. Just let me know.

The main thing is I need to know very soon if you wish to attend; please contact me so that I will bring enough materials with me for all attendees. Plus, the wall art board requires a bit of pre-work, and I will do that prior for confirmed attendees.

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WALL ART CANVAS BOARD

Speaking of the Wall Art board – My wall canvas board is custom made and heavy duty. Many other places, where you may see classes similar to mine offered, well, I am going to be honest – a cheap board is usually used. I custom ordered my canvas boards – built to “last” because of how these plants are watered. Over time, I want to ensure you have a nice product – and at a nice size too. This is my style. To give it all I can so you enjoy what you create and take home.

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THE FEES

The fees are separate based on what you wish to make. Wall Art is $45 plus CT Sales Tax. The Kokedama is $30 pp plus CT Sales Tax. I also have a few other plant candidates in stock if you would like to make the item with a different plant (button ferns, Sanseveria, living moss, and flame plants, etc.) The fee includes the plant, materials, instructions, and more for the item selected.

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TO ATTEND

Just text, email me, or call by end of day Tuesday (tomorrow).

860-977-9473

containercathy@gmail.com

Thank you,

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
860-977-9473
containercathy@gmail.com

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Thanks for all the LIKES!

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Just a quick post to say thank you to my blog followers, friends, and newcomers of this blog site called Container Crazy CT.

I saw this (below) in my stats this morning!

500-likes

As for this week, I’ve started doing a bit of “fall decorating” and started taking down some of my pots and container gardens – primarily the ones with vegetable plants in them.

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The fall decor begins. #autumn

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I figure I have a lot to do – If you’ve ever been here – you know I have pots everywhere on my deck, in the back yard, around the house, and along the garage.

My process involves first removing all the worn out veggie plants by pulling them out, sometimes requiring a hori-hori garden knife to dig around the roots, and putting the vegetative plant parts in a bag to toss in compost piles. Then after, I will take the pots of remaining potting soil and dump them either into a larger pot somewhere in my yard or into a garden area or bin. Note: The old potting soil is utilized as a filler with compost – it won’t hold water as well in pots year after year, but can be used again as an ingredient so to speak in gardens or mixed with other organic ingredients so it is not wasted.

As I worked, I collected any veggies on the plants still growing – there were the Juliet plum shaped tomatoes (green) but this summer the red ones were fantastic and I had many, many picked from a single plant in a big pot, then the oddly shaped Uba Tuba peppers which have a mind of their own – I can’t eat them if hot so my husband does the tasting, and he said those are odd cause they go either way – some sweet, some super hot. I also had a couple Tomatoe Ugly left on another plant in a pot – yup, called Ugly. They are good for cooking – but my Mom complained about their shape because they are like bumpy and lumpy –  I had given a plant to my Dad for his garden – and she just didn’t like those – LOL.

I took a batch of the Stevia plant and hung what was left in the garage to slowly dry. I am not an expert at drying herbs, but figured I’d try to do so – it is a wonderful, natural sugar substitute good in teas, so maybe I’ll try it in my sun tea concoctions when I hang a mason jar in the sun with lemon, mint, sometimes cucumbers, and a dash of honey and water to make a refreshing healthy drink. Perhaps crushed Stevia will work well as a substitute to the honey in my sun teas. My sister told me one way to dry out herbs slowly is to put them on a cookie sheet and inside your car on the dash board in the sun – I will have to remember that one!

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#gardening #lemongrass

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However, many of my other large container gardens will remain in place to demo at my October Workshop on Overwintering Plants. It will be held on Oct 15th – Details are on http://www.WORKSHOPSCT.com. I will be showing exactly how I take down the tropicals and store them – it is more of an informal workshop – walking and talking around the yard, but registration is required. It falls when we usually get a first frost either right before or after – Mid October.

The big black pot above is one I refer to as, “Cousin It.” It is the first time I grew Lemon Grass in a pot and sold them too at my May Container Gardening Workshops – and I love how full it got – it handled the drought very well this season and intermingles between other plants, and the bottom portions are edible – so when I take this baby apart – I will take a shot at storing the edible parts of it for cooking or teas. The lemon grass can be divided also to produce more plants. Also, this pot had a purple pepper plant that did give us great peppers, and the tall Canna ‘Austrailia’ grew super tall from my homegrown rhizomes. However, they started to topple over – bummer. The green banana plant didn’t fair well. It just didn’t take off despite my constant watering routine this year which was tough this year in particular due to lack of rain.

I also decided to go visit a budget type store after I saw an ad for it in the newspaper and after a friend texted me to say there were pots there at good prices. Most of the pots were about half off normal retail prices I’ve seen at stores, some had a tad bit of damage, many were not really my color preferences but some were large and nice. All stacked so a little tricky to get at if you don’t have helping hands. I decided to wait and maybe return to get some for stock at my workshop next year on Container Gardening.

That’s all for today – Just some highlights. I also attended the Brimfield Antiques Fair last week and posted tons of photos on my Instagram pages. What fun that place is but I told myself to hold back at buying too much. I ended up with some small pots that look like real clay or similar to hypertufas, but they are plastic. I got a few – thinking these will be nice for succulents – perfect size!

Cathy Testa

 

Wine Bottle Garden Art Workshop Day

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Hi Everyone,

Here’s a recap of our workshop day with Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie. We had a great time creating what we called, “Garden Art Creations with Wine Bottles.”

wine-glass-art-workshop-day_0004Each creation had its own unique touches or embellishments which held a special meaning to the attendees.

For example, I included a cork from a champagne bottle I had opened when celebrating a milestone. The cork sat in a box waiting for a special place, and having it be part of my wine bottle art piece was perfect.

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Another attendee brought corks along with a horse image on them because she is an avid horse lover – equestrian to be exact. She used her corks along with a balanced mix of colors in her bead selections for her piece.

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During our workshop I stated, “Crafting is good for the soul” — and this I believe to be truth. When you sit quietly focused, your mind wanders a bit as you start working with your hands. It is very therapeutic. At times, we would start up conversations – and during other moments, we were focused on our pieces and in the “crafting zone.”

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I’m grateful we had Laura here again to be our guest instructor. She is a mixed media artist who creates paintings ranging from pets to nature to whimsical objects and anything in between. Her business is called, timefliesbylauralie.

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As I’ve stated many times, I love her art style and art work. Just look at these adorable pumpkin figurines and her magnets. She has many, many more pieces and appears often at shows around Connecticut.

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And at our workshop, we each were given a antique hand-stamped spoon to add to our pieces with “wine themed quotes.” She also sells spools at shows.

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During our workshop last Saturday, Laura took the time to go over each step, and rather than attempt to cut our wine bottles during the class which would have taken a huge amount of time, she pre-cut them all for us and explained the process to attendees.

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She also taught us about types of wire to use and why, how to assemble and work with the wire and each embellishment, and shared stories of her art and methods.

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Each piece created by the attendees during this workshop was different. For example, one attendee used soft pinks in her bottle. While another used warm and hot tones for colors.

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I included little charms with the words like Hope, Dream, Wish, and “Love what you do, Do what you love” on my wine bottle. In addition to using the special champagne cork I had saved, I used a bottle a friend gave me a while back so the bottle itself was special.

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There is so much you could add to “adorn” your bottle, as Laura would state – she used the word “adorn” quite a bit. She got me so inspired, I’m already starting on another one – which will be a witch Halloween theme. I will be sure to post the photos of it when done.

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The date of the workshop was geared for the transition from the end of summer and entering our upcoming fall, however, I learned so many other interested attendees wanted to attend but had conflicts due to final end of summer vacations or plans.

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So, I think next year, we will shoot for the third week of September so more people can make it – providing we have Laura return again – which I’m hoping she will.

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Speaking of Laura – I want to say, “Thank you again, Laura – You are a born artist and exceptional teacher. We appreciate your time, generosity, and spirit at our Container Crazy CT Workshops.”

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

UP NEXT:

Overwintering Plants, Oct 15 – Learn to store Canna, Ensete (red banana), Colocasia (elephants ears), and other plants so they may be regrown next spring in your container gardens.

Growing Your Own Nutritious Soil Sprouts, Nov 5th – Learn how to grow soil sprouts via an easy 5-7 day method for harvest indoors all fall, winter and next season.

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Caterpillar, Moths, Bugs and Bees

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Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

This week, I’ve been posting pictures of a Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) – well, not the moth itself yet, but its caterpillar stages before becoming a moth.

On Monday of this week, he moved to the base of a plant he’s been feasting on and began the process of making a silk cocoon. I’m glad I caught the very first stage of it – and was able to take pictures every couple of hours during the afternoon.

As noted in an earlier blog post, I spotted the caterpillar when I noticed something was eating the leaves of the plant (an elderberry in a starter pot). I am totally fascinated by this caterpillar’s coloring, horns, and well, as odd as this may sound, he kind of became my buddy. (See earlier posts of photos of him during his feasting stages.)

Every day, I’d go out to see if he was still clinging onto the stems of the elderberry, and see how much “damage” he did by feasting, and then voila – this week, I came out and he was starting his process of creating a silky cocoon (not sure if cocoon is the right term.)

I was surprised he squished himself in the base between stems/branches, and the plant label, which I never removed. The label makes a great supporting wall for him. I didn’t see him move at all when I would go out to take a look and photo.

In fact, every time I stepped out to take a photo before, he would stop moving usually and pull his head into his big body during his eating cycles in the mornings prior to the cocoon making.

Upon reading and looking it up, I discovered the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is “North America’s largest native moth” – and it is noted in references that “females can get a wingspan of six inches or more.” Cool. So it is a neat find and I’ve enjoy watching its progress.

As odd as this may sound, I have a memory from childhood of seeing a huge butterfly on a bush and running to get my parents to show them. Later in life, I thought, did I imagine this? – but I remember it being huge – similar to the photos of this moth. I will have to ask my parents if they remember this at all, or if I imagined it.

Anyhow, today, I think I’m going to prune the plant back and put a netting material over the top so nothing can get at it during the rest of the summer and into fall.

In the winter, I will either move the pot into my garage because it must experience the normal temps of winter, or put it under my steps in the front of the house.

I went to a website and asked about it – and they recommended these steps versus bringing it inside or putting it in a grow room which would be too warm.

From what I’ve learned, this moth, when it comes out – will only stick around for 2 weeks, and it is rare to actually spot the process of it coming out – but I do not want to totally disturb it and let nature take it’s course too. It is more important to me he makes it than to witness it changing into a huge, beautiful moth. Especially if it only lives for two weeks.

Ironically, earlier this season, I found black caterpillars feeding on a plant by the side of my house in a different area. I even posted a video of them and remember saying, I don’t know what they are, but I don’t like that they are eating my plant – Well, I suspect now they were the instar versions of this caterpillar because I’ve been looking at the pictures online of it’s growth process online.

Its cocoon basically got thicker and darker colored during the afternoon on Monday. By the next day, it was very dark brown where you can’t really see the caterpillar anymore inside because the layers are so thick from the silk.

He will change into a brown casing (chrysalis? I don’t know – I’m not a bug expert), eventually inside – similar to what is depicted in the Silence of The Lambs movie – like that. I am “not” gonna open it up though.

Here are some photos which I posted on my Instagram feed:

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#cocoon #silkmoth #caterpillar #caterpillars

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#cocooning #cocoon #moth #cecropiamoth #caterpillar

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Beetle with Babies

I discovered another insect “thing” yesterday – I put out some glass jars on hanging hooks, and the rain filled one partially. There was a beetle floating around – deceased sadly (drowned), but I noticed little movements of its babies on its back. This stuff fascinates me – nature always has and always will, and I felt a little bad for the mommy – even for an insect I have these feelings at times. Not all the time though – not when they devour other plants I adore.

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She drowned. Her babies on her back moving. #bugs #beetle

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Bees on my Clethra alnifolia

Clethra alnifolia, commonly called summersweet, is a deciduous shrub which blooms this time of year, and has an intense fragrance. I have only one in my yard, but I look forward to seeing and smelling it every time it starts up its white flowers.

Yesterday, I walked up to it – and of course, iPhone in hand, and I saw a bee kind of sleeping on an upright panicle (flower heads). As I moved closer to take a shot, his little arm would jump up as if he was saying stop coming towards me – it was comical – like a reflex.

Eventually he got annoyed with me and flew away which I caught on a fast video taping and his one little arm was raised like he was saying goodbye as he took off. No Joke! LOL.

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#clethra #pollinatorsandflowers

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Because people are very interested in helping our bee pollinators – this is a good shrub to add to your landscape for late summer blooms to give the bees a boost – and they are certainly enjoying it right now.

September Workshop – Garden Art Creations

Also, we posted a photo of samples of the art pieces we will be making in our September 10th workshop called, “Garden Art Creations” – with wine bottles. Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie is our Special Guest Instructor. She developed three prototypes to show us what we are in for! I can’t wait.

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Here are some details:

Location:

72 Harrington Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016

Registration Fee:

$35 pp – Includes a pre-cut wine bottle per attendee, art pieces to embellish, instructions by our Guest Artist Speaker, wire, etc. You may bring additional art pieces to add and should bring your own wine corks. Bring own wire cutters if you have them.

Special Guest Speaker:

Laura Sinsigallo of timefliesbylauralie. Laura is a returning Guest Artist at our workshop. She taught a wind chime making class in 2015 and we are happy to have her return in 2016 for this workshop.

Date and Registration:

The date for this workshop has been scheduled for September 10th, 2016. Please refer to our www.WORKSHOPSCT.com site for more information, to register via Eventbrite on that site, or see our Facebook EVENT on Container Crazy CT facebook wall. Registration and pre-payment is required. Seats are limited – so please don’t wait if you would like to join us. It will be held rain or shine, and if a nice day, hopefully outdoors.

Enjoy your surroundings everyone – it is there for us to enjoy. Even without Pokemons (did I spell that right?).

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

Oh, and FYI, my “Ugly” tomatoes, or Costoluto Genovese, are getting bigger, can’t wait for them to ripen. They may be ugly ducklings but the flavor is suppose to be fantastic. The reason I selected them, along with Tomatoe ‘Juliet’, Tomatoe ‘Purple Bumblebee’, and Tomatoe ‘Sun Gold’ is because they are interesting – and, I like that kind of thing…

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Tomatoe Ugly #containergardening

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