Mini Succulent Pumpkins at the Market

Leave a comment

Banner of Workshops for FB Page Oct 2019

Hi all,

The recent fall weather changes of cool evenings signals Succulent Pumpkin time which is a favorite of mine for autumn decorating. They have been all the rage for a few years now and I very much enjoy creating these and offering workshops and demo’s on them this time of year. Here’s what’s coming up!


You have several choices to learn the how-to’s or to participate hands-on with Container Crazy CT:

September 28, 2019 – Saturday
Ellington Farmers Market
Mini Succulent Pumpkins
9 am to 12 pm
Arbor Park

Look for me in the big white gazebo where I will be providing tips on how to create gorgeous succulent topped pumpkins. Bring your own mini pumpkin and we will help you get started! Various types of succulents will be available for purchase from me to finish your design at home. (Note: This is not a full “hands-on event.” It is set up to show you each step and help get you started to finish DIY style at home.)

Succ Pumpkins 2019 by C Testa Copywrite_0001

Bring a Mini Pumpkin like this one!

October 5, 2019 – Saturday (10 am to 12 pm)
October 12, 2019 – Saturday (1 pm to 3 pm)
Container Crazy CT’s
Workshops in Broad Brook, CT

These are two full hands-on workshop where you make your own succulent topped pumpkin centerpieces. All the details are outlined on our site: Bring your own pumpkin(s) – real or faux. We supply the class, tools, moss, propagation info, autumn snacks, and more. You purchase the succulents you wish to use at the workshop – and we have varied styles and especially prepared succulent for you. What does this mean? There are advanced steps required for success with preparing succulents which Cathy T does for you before the workshop. This is part of the reason why we offer choices and we also tell you the secrets on the how to’s. An additional bonus is attendees are invited to free Facebook Live sessions after to keep learning about succulents, how to deal with them later in the season, and offer over-wintering care details. These two workshops have registration fees and pre-registration is required. One workshop is offered during the morning hours, and the other is held in the early afternoon. It is a fun day with a friend, mom/daughter, or solo – Come join our autumn fun.

A Succulents Pumpkin C Testa Copywrite_0002

Large Succulent Pumpkin

October 10th, 2019 – Thursday (1 pm – 2 pm)
West Hartford Garden Club
Succulent Topped Pumpkin Demonstration

I will be speaking at the wonderful West Hartford Garden Club on a Thursday – during the day hours. If you are free during the day and wish to learn how to make a Succulent Topped Pumpkin, come on by. The club starts their day with a lunch at 12:00 noon followed by their business meeting, and then my presentation at 1 pm. Take note their location recently moved to St. John’s Episcopal Church at 679 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford, CT. (Note: This is not a hands-on session, but a demonstration. Contact the club for details about attendance.)

A Succulents Pumpkin C Testa Copywrite_0004

A Wooden Faux Pumpkin – The Creations from Mini, Medium, to Large are endless!


Stay tuned for the annual Holiday workshops. The registrations will be opening very soon. Visit and note the dates: November 30th for the Invite Only KB 10th year Celebration and Workshop and the December 7th Open Workshop for the Beginner and Advanced attendees. We make kissing balls, wreaths, and candle table centerpieces with fresh holiday greens at these workshops – an annual event not to be missed.

HAPPENING NOW – Autumn Cleanup of Containers

As noted above, I am already starting to disassemble some of my own plants to get a head-start. However, many of my container gardens may stay out till the first frost of October (such as the Canna, Elephant Ears, and Banana Plants) and then I store the tubers, corms, rhizomes, etc. Most of this has been previously documented on this blog. Just search by plant name and you should be able to find my overwintering posts.

I also started taking down my Morning Glory vines – they became quite messy – and grew into my garage light fixtures – the leaves were tattered and worn so out they went yesterday. I also took apart most of my tomato plants in containers, which by now, still had some fruit but most of the plants were exhausted. The soil will be tossed for these as some had plant disease issues and thus the soil is not reusable, and the pots will be thoroughly washed in soapy water with a bit of bleach before storing away the pots.

Today, I will tackle more of the tomato pots and some of my deck plants. I already moved in some houseplants to the house – and showed some tips recently on this. It is important to inspect all plants for any insects, removed any damaged leaves, wash the outside of pots if moving in with same pots, and avoid the cold chills of the evenings now for “some” houseplants. And I find it is best to move them in when the soil is dry. Some of my plants were under patio umbrellas so they were not soaked from recent rainfalls.

I always like to move in my succulents before cold wet rains which soak the soil and the soil tends to not dry out much this time of year, so I have been moving my succulent dish gardens into sun on my driveway to dry out any overly wet soil. This week is a good week to do this – we are having some great weather this week. However, I usually do this before we get chilly evenings but fell behind due to a vacation. My biggest tip is move those dish gardens with succulents in before the soaking wet soil happens and it stays cool out in the evening – because this invites insects when you move them in. Cold wet soils are not the best situation for succulents. If possible, move those succulent dish gardens in while the soil is dry. Succulent tend to rot if the soil stays really wet at the base of the plants too. There are other ways and methods to deal with extending your succulents from containers and dish gardens, and part of this is propagation steps which I go over in my October workshops.

As for the hanging basket attendees from this past spring, I showed some steps recently of propagating the succs and you may refer to your handouts too – which is one way to keep the succulent hanging baskets going. You may also just remove them individually from the hanging basket arrangement and pot them into new individual pots with fresh potting mix. Put them by a sunny window in your home.

Thanks for tuning in,

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy CT
Broad Brook, CT

We offer plant related workshops, container gardening and balcony garden installs, garden club talks, and occasionally sell plants and offer demo’s at markets. It is fall and winter time – and new workshops are coming up – hope you will join us.

Summer 2019 by C Testa Copywrite_0014.jpg


Ellington Farmers Market invites Container Crazy Cathy T

Leave a comment

Good Morning Everyone!

We had wonderful warmth and sun yesterday, and a nice rainfall is happening today which is providing everyone the perfect “setup” for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend – when many people start to plant their vegetable plants in their gardens – and of course, in container gardens and patio pots!

Most gardeners follow the rule of planting on Memorial Day because we are finally safe from frost and the soil is warmed up for our warm loving plants. This is especially true this year because of the our cool spring. Everyone is anxious – including our plants.

EFM Black Pepper Better Image


Edibles and Fruiting Shrubs in Container Gardens

Thus – This weekend’s free talk on “Edibles and Fruiting Shrubs” in Container Gardens at Ellington Farmers Market is perfect timing. I will be at the big “square” gazebo (there are two gazebos on the site) from 9:00 am to Noon – and the talk will begin at 10:00 am.

I plan to go over tips on how to use fruiting shrubs in patio pots and also planting mixed container gardens with herbs and other wonderful various plants.

Thyme, pepper plants, tomatoes plants, banana plants, mint, fennel, oregano, rhubarb, Goji shrubs, blueberry shrubs, Sambucas Elderberries, cucumber, and many more will be available for purchase too. Will have select tropical thrillers and some flowering perennials and even succulents.

Don’t miss out – now is the time to grab them while they are hot.

EFF Blueberry Pot

Location of Ellington Farmers Market:

Arbor Park
Arbor Park is located Main Street in the heart of town. Arbor Park offers a safe area to walk. The Farmer’s Market is held in the park on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to Noon.

EFM Lemon Thyme



1-84. Get off exit 66; proceed up the road towards rt. 30; turn right onto rt. 30; take immediate left onto west road (Vernon police dept. on your left).  Follow past Garden Barn, Walgreens, and Big Y.  Turn left onto Main Street (Light where Kloter Farms and Valero are located) Arbor Park is about 1/2 mile down the road on the right.
From Broad Brook Area – Take 140 to Ellington Center, get to Main Street and you will see the park on your left before Kloter Farms. There are signs indicating where to go for parking which is located in the back area of the market grounds. The big square gazebo is on the street side where the talk will begin promptly at 10 am.
Hope to see you there! 
Cathy Testa
Check Out Cathy T’s Feature in GoLocal’s May Issue
EFM Pepper Flowers

Pepper Plants in Flower – Ready to plant and produce for you!

Herbs are Perfect for Container Gardens and Patio Pots

Leave a comment

Herbs are perfect fits for container gardens and patio pots. They require 3 big things to grow well: lots of sun, great air circulation, and well-drained soil that needs to dry somewhat between watering. Growing herbs in containers helps you meet all their growing needs. In addition, herbs offer many health benefits. These will be talked about on Saturday, May 30th, during the special “Meet Your Herbs” day at the Ellington Farmers Market.

Thyme grows really well in a container

Thyme grows really well in a container

Perennial herbs will return in container gardens and patio pots. After the season is over and the plants go dormant, all you need to do is store the container or pot in an sheltered unheated outdoor location. Some perennial herbs are tougher than others and their pots may remain outdoors all winter – they will come back again in spring.  Cathy Testa will be talking about them during her free talk at this weekend’s market (9:30-10:30 at the square gazebo) on mixing herbs in container plantings.

Wooden Pot is Well Suited for Thymus

Wooden Pot is Well Suited for Thymus

Thyme is a great example of a perennial herb which thrives in container gardens. And there are so many varieties to choose from with various flower colors from white, pink, lavender, etc. Thymus praecox ‘Albus’ has emerald green mats with white flowers in June. Thymus praecox ‘Coccineus’ has a dense look to its growth and is deer resistant as with many other thymes. Thymus praecox ‘Ruby Glow’ is ruby-colored and blooms in spring to early summer – it is very vivid!

Scented Thymes

There are thymes with wonderful scents, such as Spicy Orange Thyme (Thymus x ‘Orange Spice’) with the scent of orange and a strong orange flavor. These are used often in teas and for cooking. ‘Archer’s Gold’ Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus ‘Archer’s Gold’) is low growing and has deep golden yellow foliage in the spring and fall with lemon scents. Anytime I run my fingers across these plants, it evokes a sense of well, smelly goodness!

Creeping Thymes

Thymes also creep, sprawl and somewhat hang as they grow fuller in container gardens. In fact, I came up with the term “sprawler” to add to the well-known thriller, filler, spiller for container garden design techniques and discuss what a sprawler is at my container garden workshops. Creeping lemon thyme is variegated mats of lavender flowers and a great aromatic smell – imagine using it as a groundcover or lawn instead of grass! Awe, mowing is moved to a new scented high in this case.

Woolly Thymes

Many thymes offer a textural softness to your container gardens – they are covered with fine hairs with fuzzy foliage that is soft such as Thymus praecox ‘Hall’s Woolly’. The one in the photo on this blog post is fuzzy and soft too. It is Thymus ‘Longwood’ from Longwood Gardens in PA – it is an improved cultivar of woolly thyme. The pale-pink flowers on it are beautiful and attract butterflies. This is its second year in the wooden pot.

How They’ve Been Used – Not Just for Cooking!

Thyme is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and leaves have been used for so many purposes in cooking and for even “embalming the dead” – yup, just read that in the book referenced below, that thyme was used by ancient Egyptians.

And it is easy to grow – especially in Container Gardens and Patio Pots. Depending on variety, there are many thymes which will survive our planting zones because they are perennial and hardy. The time to plant it in the ground is spring or fall, but in containers – pretty much anytime is time for thyme. And, you may harvest it all summer long through the fall. It can be used fresh or dry – or just for the pure enjoyment of its visual attributes.

Thyme also has been used for antiseptic properties – for coughs and the ability for it to kill germs – by using “thymol” found in thyme compounds – another great tip spotted in the book referenced below.

Thyme is just one example of herbs in container gardens – but there’s many more which Cathy T will be sharing on Saturday during the market at 9:30 am. We hope we will see you there.

Container Crazy CT

Reference: “Simple Home Remedies You Can Grow – Power Plants” by Frankie Flowers and Bryce Wylde.

Cathy T’s Container Gardening Services – What I Do for You


Good morning everyone,

It always surprises me when someone isn’t aware of what I offer as part of my small business called, “Cathy T’s Landscape Designs”, and under the umbrella of, “Container Crazy CT.”

This situation just happened the other day. I was chatting with someone I’ve known for several years, and she asked if I was into banana plants?

This question was a surprise to hear because I’ve blogged about them, sold them, and especially like tropical plants.

Before I could answer, she started to tell me how she was growing some in her home for a garden club event.

As soon as I started to tell her about the big red banana plant I grew in a large planter a couple years back, she paused to listen.

This discussion reminded me of how I once told a garden center owner that many of my friends were not aware their store existed. He kind of listened but I don’t think he believe me – because they are well established.

Funny how that happens.

So, today I’m sharing what I shared at my last garden talk – some quick highlights of what I do. Hopefully you will join me this season for any of the following:

Cathy Testa

Cathy Testa

First – A little bit about my style. I tend to like showy foliage plants, and big tropical plants because they are exciting and grow fast in container gardens. I enjoy storing tropical plants over the winter months so they may be reused each season as well, so as part of my classes and talks, I often share how to do so – store tender plants.

Taking Down a P

Taking Down a big Red Banana Plant – All Steps are On my Blog!!

Storing tender plants (or tropical plants) is something I enjoy. On my blog — this blog, you will find prior posts which show how I do this – The photo above, from a prior blog post, shows me holding a 7 foot long leaf of a red banana plant (Ensete) and the trunk after it was chopped down following an October frost two years ago. It was amazing how this plant grew that particular year in a very large cement planter.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (1)

As you can see, in these two photos above – the red banana plant grew to about 12′ – 14′ feet tall! I was so in love with how lush and tropical it looked, I kept taking photos of it. So, my style is kind of like that above; I like to create outdoor oasis like places in my surroundings, where you escape to a feeling of the tropics. And I tend to enjoy using unusual plants, like cool looking edibles in container gardens. I spoke about edibles quite a bit last season at garden clubs and farmers markets.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (3)Container gardening or arranging plants in patio pots is my favorite thing to do and offer as part of my services offerings. I’m a small business located in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, CT.

Barrels in-front of Joe's Fine Wine & Spirits by Cathy T

Barrels in-front of Joe’s Fine Wine & Spirits by Cathy T

Store front seasonal container arrangements, such as various plants in spring, summer, and fall – and then changing them out for winter displays with fresh evergreens, and even fun off-season decor for the holidays is what I offer to local store front type businesses. This dresses up the store front, welcomes customers, and even encourages friendly communications with your visiting clients. For referrals or more information about the container garden installations, feel free to contact me or complete the Contact Form at the bottom of this blog post. Or click on Testimonials above on this blog’s menu bar.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (4)

I also offer container garden installations at homes. And for special outdoor events, such as weddings, graduations, or any type of special celebrations at your home. The container gardens filled with lush plants are available for purchase or rent. To read about my Container Garden Services, click HERE.

Evolvulus (10)

Consider this alternative of enhancing your outdoor space with container gardens filled with beautiful plants the next time you are throwing a special party or event. After all, container gardens are enjoyed for months to follow in season, and are long-lasting compared to other outdoor decor which is there just for the day – and never to be seen again. Containers make wonderful gifts and decor for events. For more information, contact me or fill out the Contact Form at the bottom of this blog. It is important to plan early and in advance for special events.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (5)

Fun gatherings where attendees learn hands-on is another service offering by my business. It started with offering classes in the winter months, and transitioned to workshops on container gardening and other classes related to combining Nature with Art. Last fall, we had a special guest speaker come in to teach us how to make hypertufa pots, and this spring, we will be making eclectic windchimes. The topics vary but they all focus on combining nature with art. The 2015 class schedule is posted above – via the menu bars – on this blog. Click on CALENDAR to see the upcoming events by month.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (7)

First on the 2015 list is an April class on making eclectic windchimes. And every May, a Container Garden Workshop is offered. This year’s theme is, “Powerful Perennials in Container Gardens.” To see the complete class listings, please click on the menu bars of this blog and look over the drop down menus by month. Sign up is via the contact forms on the blog pages.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (6)

The workshops are held in Broad Brook, CT. They are convenient, educational, and a great way to network with other gardening friends. But most of all, they are fun! Last year, we held two sessions on Miniature Gardens with special guest speaker, Rondi Niles of Gardening Inspirations – it was held twice because everyone enjoyed them. This year, the Container Garden Workshops will be held twice as well. I hope you will join us and share the events with your gardening friends.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (8)

In the warm season months, classes are held outdoors. During the winter, inside a classroom. Every December, I offer a class on working with evergreen plants to create amazing holiday decor, such as evergreen kissing balls, wreaths, and candle centerpieces. It fills up fast and is an event everyone enjoys as well – organizing groups is one of my passions – and is a great way to network and meet new gardening friends, or those who enjoy creating and making items for their home’s outdoor surroundings.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (9)

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (10)

And last year, a new activity was added to the Cathy T’s offerings – Walk and Talk Home Gardens tours – Very informal, fun, and the hosts are homeowners willing to share what they have done in their gardens – with the rule that there “are no rules!” It can be informal, messy, or amazing – it is a way to share and learn from each other. Last year, we toured a pond garden in Enfield, an urban veggie garden in Wethersfield, and a sunny hillside garden in East Granby.

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (11)

Edibles Container Gardening 2015 (12)The Walk and Talk Home Garden Tours for 2015 are underway. We have two lined up so far for 2015. Again, see the menu bar with drop down menus of all the activity. If you are interested in sharing your home garden, please reach out – it is a great way to exchange gardening tips, meet new gardening friends, and share what you know, how you have created a garden in your special spaces, and it doesn’t matter if your garden is big or small, perfect or imperfect – we want to hear from you! To contact me about a tour, e-mail or fill out the Contact Form at the end of this post.

Evolvulus (8)

So there you have it – in a nutshell: Container Garden installs for homes, businesses, and special events. Lots of nature and plant related classes which are all DIY and include taking home your creation – and educational! And Garden Talks at Garden Clubs, appearances at farmers markets (Ellington and East Windsor again in 2015), Garden Tours at People’s Homes, and more.

My business is based on 8+ years of growing from my inspiration and passion of plants and container gardens, experimentation which lead to knowledge and taking courses over the years, and knowing the right way to care for plants in container gardens and patio pots, circling back to more experience. It starts with having a passion and inspiration! Let’s meet to share the passion together.

Cathy Testa

To learn more about Cathy Testa, see her BIO.

Insects in Your Container Gardens – And What You Can Do…


Hello Everyone!

It is that time of year when we may be seeing little critters appear on some of our plants in our gardens or container gardens, and it ain’t pretty.  Fortunately, many of them do not last long due to their life cycles, stages of growth, and time of appearance, but regardless, it is best to battle them as soon as spotted on your plants.

I like to use the ‘pick and squish’ method first whenever possible, if bold enough, prior to reaching for any insecticides, or use of pesticides.  Sometimes just hand picking off or pruning, then disposing of them works.

In the photos below, you will see what I believe are eastern tent caterpillars on my honeysuckle vine (top left), aphids on the eggplant bloom (middle top photo), and mosquito larvae in the water image.  These were all spotted in late June, along with a first sighting of the infamous Japanese beetles, which emerge from the ground in early summer to feed on plants.

Yuck -- Insects on Plants

Yuck — Insects on Plants

Tent caterpillars on my trumpet honeysuckle – YUCK! That was a first – and my honeysuckle has been doing so well this year.  Obviously, I was not happy to find these buggers.  My honeysuckle plant is growing by the side of the house, and it surprised me to find tent caterpillars on it.  Fortunately, with a quick snip of the vine from which they were attached, they were easily bagged and tossed.

Honeysuckle bloom creeps into Delphinium

Honeysuckle bloom creeps into Delphinium’s blooms


Using clean pruning shears, I cut of the portion of a vine with the nasty critters on it, put it in a plastic bag on the driveway and then stomped on the bag.  I left the bag laying on the driveway for a while.  Why? I figured the heat would fry any not crushed (oooh, gross – the things gardeners will do!).  Then, I went out for my day’s work at a client’s location.

That day, my parents dropped of some items at my door, and my mother saw the plastic bag sitting on the driveway so she included my bug bag as a hanging item on my door handle while I was not home.  I guess she figured I dropped something by mistake on the driveway.

Well, when I opened up that bag at the kitchen table – ACK.  Out to the garbage can it went – and quickly. You see, the other bags my parents often leave me are filled with fresh veggies from their home garden.  Imagine my surprise and reaction when I found bugs instead of radishes.

Prior to all this bug nonsense, I was enjoying the many orange trumpet shaped blooms growing from my honeysuckle so much all month.  At one point, a stem pushed its way through the center of a Delphinium stalk located near it – talk about stunning.

Do these two plants know they are complementary colors on the color wheel?

Opposite each other on the color wheel – are blue and orange – talk about a nice surprise nature combo in the garden! Although this Delphinium technically has more purples than blues in its blooms, the combination was breathtaking all the same – I have been enjoying it for a whole month.  I wrote about Delphiniums before on this blog, as it was a flower I selected in my wedding bouquet 24 years ago.  It probably was one of my first flower obsessions.  I find them a little difficult to keep growing in my garden, so this year, I just bought a new one and plopped it by the honeysuckle plant, and it has grown beautifully.

Honeysuckle Blooms

Honeysuckle Blooms

Honeysuckle (Lonicera) is a deciduous vine that grows quickly every year.  It is deer resistant and attracts butterflies. A trellis or arbor is needed to hold it up as it grows taller, sometimes reaching 15-20 feet.  I’ve had mine for several years in this spot with little problems – again, why I was surprised to see the tent caterpillars take a spot on it this year.

Although this vine grows quickly, I wouldn’t classify it as a invasive plant because it is easily removed if you find it over takes your space, but it can get large fast and needs to be watched.  It is included in my Troublemakers Turned Star Plants on my Pinterest page, because it can be very useful in a container garden if you find it a nuisance in the regular gardens of the ground.

It likes sun to part shade, and blooms for a long time.  The scent is intoxicating for many cultivars. This plant may be used as a thriller in a large container garden, so long as you add a nice big trellis in the container for support.

Happy Bloom on Japanese Long Eggplant

Happy Bloom on Japanese Long Eggplant Being Visited by Pest Aphids


If you take a close look above, you may see the little aphid bugs on my Japanese eggplant.

Aphids are very tiny pear-shaped insects with long antennae and tubes on their back-ends.  Some of the interesting tidbits about aphids are ants protect them because they enjoy their “sweet honeydew”, and they (aphids) reproduce faster than rabbits – the females do not need males to do so, and aphids vary in colors – not just green as the ones spotted on this plant.  To learn more about these little guys, see the CAES link.

Well, seeing them on my Japanese long eggplant flowers in my container garden was not pleasing. I’ve been using edibles in container gardens a great deal this season – and talking about it at garden clubs.  I am finding, however, the edible plants seem to get attacked by bugs much quicker than my tropical or annual plants.

To battle these aphids, I lightly sprayed the plant on a shady day when cool with a safe organic spray for vegetable plants (remember, don’t spray a plant when its very hot and located in full sun), and then a day later, I hosed off the leaves by using the garden hose with a watering wand at a good heavy pressure – it did the trick.  No more signs of the aphids since – and my first eggplant fruit growing right now on the plant – yeah!

I couldn’t really pick the small aphids by hand because they are too tiny, at the size of 1/8″ long.  And by the way, lady bugs are natural predators, releasing them can help if you can find the ladybugs from a garden center.

First eggplant

First eggplant

I potted up this eggplant plant along side an asparagus plant, strawberry plant, and would you believe, Brussels sprouts?! The asparagus added a nice soft texture with its fine and light foliage along side the coarse texture of the eggplant leaves, the strawberry plant is a spiller, and the Brussels sprouts – well, wow – what big texture those leaves have offered.

Eggplant with Mixed Edibles

Eggplant with Mixed Edibles

Earlier in June, I brought the container garden to the Ellington Farmers Market to show the combination during my talk about “Incorporating Decorative Edibles in Mixed Container Gardens.”  Well, low and behold, these two very interesting looking insects took their position on the red trellis in the pot – and stayed there all day during the market.  Thankfully they did not jump on me when I was driving home later that day with the container garden on my truck seat.  Not sure what they are, do you know?

Bugs on Trellis with brussel sprout Leaves behind it.

Bugs on Trellis with brussel sprout Leaves behind it.


The other spot where I saw critters was in a water garden I have at home, which is a big galvanized feeding bin (for animals) filled with water and plants, such as elephant ears (Colocasia) or other water tolerant types, such as Cyperus papyrus (Tut). I put the plants in terracotta pots because they sink well into the water due to their weight and the clay is porous. Add some stones to the top of the soil of those pots so the soil does not escape into the water.  When submerging the pots, gently drop them into the water as to not disturb the soil too much.

Well, I should have known, tiny mosquito larvae started to grow in the water, and there were tons of them wiggling in the water one day.

To avoid this situation – you may try two things – place a mosquito dunk, which are not harmful to the plants, in the water, or just flush some of the water out occasionally with a garden hose so the water is not stagnant.  This is what I do. Later, no more larvae and no more bites.

Oh, when I was very young, I remember telling a teacher that I saw little things wiggling in a puddle at home. (Living on a farm, you tend to notice things like this – or I was just always fascinated with looking at things up close in nature.)  He told me to put them in a jar with water, cover it with plastic wrap and to bring it into class.  He set it on his desk and said, “Let’s see what happens.” A few days later, a bunch of mosquitoes were flying above the water.  A visual lesson for sure.


Fuzzy body of moth

Fuzzy body of moth

Another surprise sighting at my home this season was a Luna moth (Actias luna) on a apple tree in a pot.  As I was walking out to my garage, I saw a white substance on a leaf.  Well camouflaged, I didn’t see the wings of the moth at first.

I thought, “What the heck is that white fuzzy cocoon on my apple tree?”  (By the way, I often plant small trees in container gardens for a few years first – because I am crazy about container gardening, but it also can give a small tree some time to grow larger and stronger before I eventually transplant it to the ground when it outgrows a large pot – this way, I enjoy, learn and grow the plant first – as is the case with this apple tree.)

Insects ContainerCrazyCT_0015

To my surprise, it was a beautiful moth and not an ugly insect!  This was in the early morning and the east sun was brightly lighting up its wings.  The moth was completely motionless, and not moving at all – this gave me the wonderful opportunity to snap more photos.

Luna Moth on Apple Tree hanging on the underside of a leaf

Luna Moth on Apple Tree hanging on the underside of a leaf

I tried getting photos from every angle, which was difficult to do because it was on the backside of the plant along the garage wall.  After repeatedly taking photos, I tried moving the pot but it flew away.

Insects ContainerCrazyCT_0009

Luna Moth on Apple Tree

Luna Moth on Apple Tree


I also just spotted my first Japanese beetle on a plant yesterday – it happen to be a watermelon plant in a single container. Those beetles, I pick up with my hands and squish on the ground under foot.  They never scare me – even when they grab tightly onto my fingers.  I guess this is because my father would pick them from his garden plants and put them in a jar – another memory from childhood – and sometimes, I would help him collect the beetles.  I also would chase my younger sister, Louise, around in our pool, when I would find Japanese beetles in our pool too – and she would screech at the sight of them.  She told me this game as children put a fear of those beetles in her for a lifetime – oh well, the things we do when we are kids – LOL! However, she also practices the “pick and squish” method in her own vegetable garden for insects not so scary to her.

East Windsor Farmers Market

East Windsor Farmers Market


Last week, all bugs aside, I was featured as a guest speaker at the East Windsor Farmers Market on their opening day. Their market runs from now until October, on Sundays, 11 am to 2 pm, at the Trolley Museum off Rt 140.

My niece came for a visit – she loves to help me at the markets with my plants – and I love having her there.  We were goofing around, taking silly photos, and coincidentally, had matching blue shirts on.

See the next photo – this was my building at the market – pretty cool, huh?

Nope, just kidding – it was some sort of very old structure from the Trolley Museum next to my table setup.  I never got a chance to ask them what is was about, but it was sort of cool looking.  (BTW, if you go there, go see the old trolleys and even a few other interesting vehicles, such as airport shuttle buses built, but they were never installed at Bradley airport.)

The other cool thing about going to the market at this location is kids and family can take trolley rides on antique trolley cars as part of their day.  And, I did not know this – but there is a little movie theater inside the trolley museum building too – along with old cool trolley pics and more – so if you go, be sure to go inside as well as visit all the new vendors at this growing market in a great location – picnic tables and all.

Old Structure at the Trolley Museum

Old Structure at the Trolley Museum


After the weekend, one of my first priorities was to update my client’s business store front with some red-white-and blues for the holiday and put a nice mix of succulents in the container gardens.  Cactic and succulents can be a little tricky to plant if they have spines and needles.  Just be sure to wear thick gloves and handle it by the root ball – and with some practice, you won’t get pinned, stuck, or aggravated by tiny spines.  I will say this however, whomever is putting their cigarette butts in my container gardens at this location – you will find a little surprise this time (hee-hee!). Fortunately, insects tend to not bother cacti and succulents much based on my experience, so they are useful for the non-insect people.

Client Barrels Decorated for the 4th

Client Barrels Decorated for the 4th

4th of July Succulents ContainerCrazyCT_0002

Oh by the way, what are these ugly critters below?  Saw these on a weed plant, so I pulled the plant out of the ground and took it to the chicken coop for the hens to deal with.  That’s another way to deal with insects.  Recycle to the coop…

More aphids or not??

More aphids or not??

Cathy Testa


Condensed List- What You Can Do:

  1. Pick, Squish, Toss
  2. Prune away Plant Parts with Insects and Toss
  3. Pull Plant; Feed to Chickens
  4. Hose off with Strong Spray of Water
  5. Chase your Younger Sister around with them
  6. Lightly spray with Insecticide specific for plant and insects
  7. Get natural predators, like ladybugs and release near pest insects

Happy 4th of July Weekend Everyone – Hope it is filled with food, family, fun – and not many critters!

4th Photo Courtesy of, by nuttakit

4th Photo Courtesy of, by nuttakit

Cathy T at the Ellington Farmers Market – Edibles, Succulents, and More


Good Morning Everyone,

In June of 2009, I was interviewed by Sarah Martinez for “Garden Center Magazine” about my Container Garden Parties at people’s homes, and one statement I made to her at that time was, “Holding these parties at people’s homes is a lot of work – but I enjoy it.”

Well, the same holds true today.

Last weekend, Cathy T’s Big Container Garden Party (Class) was held, and the plant feature was succulents, alpines and tropical plants – and again – it was a lot of work to setup, but so much fun.  Being with a group of attendees interested in creating and learning – well, it can not be beat.

Attendees listening to Cathy T's Tips

Attendees listening to Cathy T’s Tips

The opportunity to share what I have learned over the years about Container Gardens and plants presents itself again at the Ellington Farmers Market today in Arbor Park on Main Street in Ellington, CT.

Come see me at 10:00 am in the gazebo. (Note:  There are 2 gazebo’s on the property, one will have musicians, the other along Main Street is where I will be on the farmers market grounds.)

The market opens at 9:00 am and closes by noon.  It will be a fast paced day filled with goodies – including a talk on “Decorative Edibles in mixed Container Gardens” by me.  I hope to see you there today.

And because I have beautiful succulents and alpines in stock, I will have those available for sale too.  If you haven’t completed planting up your container gardens and patio pots – come see the goodies available.

Succulents, Alpines, and Cacti

Succulents are plants with thick and strong leaves and stems.  Because they are designed to store water during periods of drought – they are tough little plants.  Some are dainty and others offer bold and strong architectural forms.

Cacti are similar to succulents; they store water in their stems.  Some have areoles with spines, so they can be very strong and even dangerous if not handled appropriately, but so worth it in my opinion, for many offer values in design compositions in container gardens.

In my class last weekend, I went over the 7 ‘Must Not Do’s’ with Succulents, so if you want to know what those are – see me today or sign up for a future class.

Oh and alpines – well, they are just adorable little plants popular to use in rock garden settings, as ground covers, and in crevices — and of course, in big or small container gardens.  This small wired basket is a creation by an attendee last weekend, Linda.  Isn’t it as sweet as ever – so small but so cute.

A dainty creation with alpines by an attendee

A dainty creation with alpines and herbs by an attendee

Sometimes you get inspired when you work with small plants too.  Yesterday, I took snips and cuttings of various succulents and alpines to create this adorable, dainty tea cup embellishment for a table.  Want to give it a try?  All supplies, the vintage bone china tea cups, plants, and instructions will be available at the market at the gazebo.

Cuttings of Succulents in Vintage Tea Cups

Cuttings of Succulents in Vintage Tea Cups

The tea cup plate and cup on the left, by the way, will be available for purchase. These cups go for $20-25 dollars on eBay – I will have them for a deal at a limited supply so if you want one, arrive early before they are all sold out.

But succulents, as noted above, can be very edge looking, and another attendee at the class scored an amazing container – check this out!  Topped with a very large Sempervirens (Hens and Chick), alone it makes a statement.  Her tall silver GARDEN container will rock it outdoors, and is easily moved indoors over the winter if desired.  I think it was my favorite container style brought by an attendee this year – so fun to see what they find and design in class.

Lisa's GARDEN container rules!

Lisa’s GARDEN container rules!

Succulents and cacti offer extremely different ranges of forms and textures.  Take the Faucaria tuberculosa on the left in the photo below.  This plant is a South African native and has the most interesting triangular leaves and it is a soft silvery blue color. This looks great with darker toned succulents in a pot, but it is also a neat form to work with.  It is a Zones 10-11 plant so perfect for the heat of summer and as a house plant in winter.  It is very easy to grow and will bloom yellow flowers in late summer.  The common name is Pebbled Tiger Jaws – perfect name, I would say.

Awesome forms and textures

Awesome forms and textures

And check out the plant on the right – Gasterworthia ‘American Beauty’ – it is NEW on the scene.  This is a hybrid of Gasteria and Haworthia pumila (maxima) grown by local growers in CT – and the rosette is stunning – patterned with spotting on the leaves. It is shooting up yellow flowers right now.  Both will be available for sale today at the market, along with many other types.

Two Types of Jades

Two Types of Jades

The plant with red edged leaves is a Jade plant by the name of Crassula arborescens – also NEW on the scene.  How can you resist this plant? – it has fleshy, blue-gray foliage and stands upright but full and mounded too.  It eventually grows to 3 to 4 feet wide, and I think they are stunning.  Also, a common Jade (as seen in the background), Crassula ovata, is in this photo – a common houseplant which I think looks amazing in head planters.  Go see my Container Garden Collages for photos of a red head pot to see.

Hens and Chics

Hens and Chics

These are just ‘sneak peeks’ of today’s plant features.  Echeverias with a variety of colors and fleshy leaves tinged with colored edges will be available too.  The Genus name is named after an 18th century Mexican botanical artist, Atanasio Echeveria y Godoy – now you know why they are called Echeverias (a.k.a., Hens and Chicks).  And be on the look out for Agaves, Aloes, Kalanchoes, and other’s.

But now it’s time for me to sign-off and get ready for my day.

See you there,

Cathy Testa



Happy Easter Everyone – Hope It’s Hopping!

Leave a comment

 Photo by Cathy Testa

Photo by Cathy Testa

Isn’t this bunny adorable?!!  I spotted him (or her?) at the Ellington Farmers Market last summer and snapped this picture – too cute.

Easter weekend is almost here and many of us are excited to spend time with our families, so this post is to say, “Enjoy Your Easter Weekend” — and let it warm up so we can sit outside during the weekend’s activities.

Our April is coming to a close soon, and May will be here – when we will be busy as bunnies in our gardens!

 Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of

Cathy Testa

Cultivating a Future Farmer at Local Farmers Markets

My Guest Booth at the EW Farmers Market

My Guest Booth at the EW Farmers Market

It happened to be a coincidence that I had my niece along with me on two recent trips to farmers markets.  She seems to enjoy the scene, taking photos, and taste-testing the treats as much as the rest of us.

Could we be cultivating a “future farmer” by way of taking kids along on our market journeys?  I certainly hope so.

We not only introduce them to information on how to grow plants, or make handcrafted products, we share good, healthy, non-GMO types of food at the same time, and may even enjoy dancing, as we did yesterday, to the Backtrax Band performing at the East Windsor Farmers Market.

Going to markets is fresh, fun, and festive.  From the fresh squeezed lemonades to the hand-made soaps, you get to enjoy locally made items and socialize with friends and family.

So the first market we hit up was the Wethersfield Farmers Market last Thursday. After babysitting a few hours, my sister asked if I wanted to go to the market with her – and of course, the answer was yes!  My niece was excited I was tagging along and jumped to get her favorite hat as we left the house.

The second market we attended was the new East Windsor Farmers Market, on their opening day, June 30, Sunday.  I was an invited as a guest vendor and volunteered to answer plant related questions.  Many people visited to ask various questions, and my niece listened intently to the answers.  I bet she could answer some herself – because she gardens along side her mom at home often, and has learned some horticultural related topics in school.

Wethersfield, CT Farmers Market

This market is held on Thursdays, 3 pm to 6 pm, which is a nice time slot for those unable to make a weekend market and convenient for getting fresh produce on the way home from work.  This market started on May 16th and runs through October 31st. You can find it on a nice lawn area called, “Solomon Welles House” lawn at 220 Hartford Avenue, Wethersfield, CT.  My sister told me it was a fairly small market, yet it was big on offerings.  There were fresh veggies at several vendors booths, tasty teas, knits, soaps, baked goods, and jewelry.


My favorite find was these big mason jars by Mamalicious with hand blown glass straws and a mushroom tea sample included to try later.  I could just picture an icy cold lemonade in them, and with a lid, there is a ‘no spill’ factor.  So I got two along with other items, such as purple radishes, from Bright Yellow Farm.

My niece was enjoying taking photos on her camera; I guess she likes seeing her Aunt do the same.  We both were clicking away and stocking up for the upcoming weekend with fresh goodies. She was the lucky recipient of beautiful gloves made with Alpaca yarn, to be stored until winter arrives, by Round Hill Alpacas, from Coventry, CT. The ladies at Round Hill said they would be at South Windsor’s market on Saturday, June 29th, but I didn’t get to that one (yet). Market vendors are making their rounds to several locations, which is great for us, if we can’t travel to one place, you are bound to find them at another or right in your home town.



The parking for this market is along the streets, and Old Wethersfield is nearby where you can visit Comstock Ferry & Co.  Click HERE for more about the seeds at Comstock.

Wethersfield Farmers Mkt.

Wethersfield Farmers Mkt.

Taking photos

Taking photos

East Windsor, CT Farmers Market

Then, only two days later, I spent the day at the East Windsor Farmers Market from 10 am to 1 pm on their opening day, June 30th. My mission was to not only support the markets grand opening day (since I live in East Windsor), but to help answer general plant questions as a guest vendor.

June is a time when we encounter plant problems, whether from bugs or due to the heat and heavy humidity we are experiencing this week.  There may be mold or fungus growing on your mulch, or the June bugs and Japanese beetles are most likely munching on some foliage of your favorite plants right now.

But the questions were not coming in on those specific subjects; instead I heard questions like:

  • How do I take care of my Mother-in-Law plant?  It stinks so bad and its smelling up my house!
  • Why did the trees blooms so strongly this year, and are we getting more maple seeds (samaras) than usual?  My mulch is covered with them.
  • Why are my tomato plants doing so badly?  They are barely growing.
  • What would cause leaf curl on my tomato plants?  My son noticed it and said something is wrong with my plants.

I think the most interesting was the “Mother-in-Law (Sanseveria trifoliate) plant with an awful, stinky smell.”  Hmm, I had to look that one up on my iPhone, and it turns out this plant does not like to be over-watered and will stink if done so from root rot.  She admitted she had over-watered her plant.  So I suggested she move it outside into shade under a patio umbrella, let the soil dry out, and don’t water it so much.  We also discussed how you can keep many houseplants outdoors during the summer, just be sure to transition them to shade first so you don’t burn the leaves as it is exposed to strong sunlight.  Just like people, it needs protection first.

On the questions regarding prolific tree blooms this season, and the maple samaras (technically a simple dry fruit) falling everywhere, my guess is the “mild” cool temperatures we experienced early in the season gave most of our flowering trees lots of additional time to plump up their buds, laying silently in the branches until the temps were warm enough to expand open.  It delayed the blossoms as well.  As soon as that warmth hit – BANG!  They exploded, and the flowers have been just spectacular this season. The dogwood trees, I’ve noticed, are so full around our neighborhoods right now.  So perhaps the early cool temps is the reason why we have a lot of samaras this year too, or at least that is my guess. Prior season’s weather and winter temperature affect the timing and patterns of growth too.

Cornus kousa

Cornus kousa

On the question regarding tomato plants not doing well…, the soil is remaining wet somewhat because, in addition to the heat and humidity, we are getting bouts of rainstorms, heavy rain, and the heat came, so it is possible the growth is being challenged by both of these factors.   She also could be lacking some nutrients in the soil, if the bottom leaves are turning light green to pale yellow, or if the fruit is small, this is a potential sign of lack of nitrogen.  During mid summer, veggies will grow faster and start to mature, so they need nitrogen in the soil.  A quick boost of fertilizer may help, which she actually suspected, and said would try to apply some and see how it goes.

On the leaf curl on a tomato plant (this one was in a container garden pot), this can be a sign of an insect setting in, or perhaps too much watering (from our rainfalls).  I referred to my book called, “What’s Wrong with My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?)” by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth.  It offers a “visual guide to easy diagnosis and organic remedies,” however, I don’t always find plant problems ‘easy’ to diagnose, when it comes to the wide variety of problems.  Lots of things can damage a plant, but the book helps you to narrow down the signs on the plant.  If a leaf is distorted, bubbled, curled, or twisted, the books leads you to pages to further define the problem and finding the possible causes.  Sometimes for puckered or twisted leaves, the underside or inner of the leaf could have an insect feeding.  Or it could be caused by a virus.  And it can also be caused by “cool, wet rains,” which we have experienced earlier in the season. But to really diagnose plant problems well, you have to see the actual plant to inspect the signs and symptoms, and look at the owner’s habits too. I also brought along a reference book by Ortho, which I don’t use for the remedy recommendations, but to identify the plants’ problems.  It has excellent photos and descriptions, and I got mine via a used book search several years ago.  I find it handy.  Another method to determine a plant’s problem is to bring a sample to your local county extension center.  We have one located in Tolland, CT.  Master Gardeners will examine the plant and give you a report- and its FREE.



And another benefit of the East Windsor Farmers Market was enjoying the BACKTRAX BAND, special to me because my brother, Jimmy, is a member of the band along with TJ, Big Tom, Sammy, and on this day, a guest drummer, Smitty.  They will be playing for the market again in the future.  Having the background music playing while shopping the vendors and visiting with friends and family really makes it special and enjoyable.  Almost all markets have some type of music, it is great – you get a free intro to the band’s music and enjoy listening while you are chatting with friends, family, and new faces in town.  Bring a lawn chair, sit a while, and grab a bite to eat while you spend the day at the market.  The band members enjoy it – so you should too!

Whole Harmony

Whole Harmony


Before people began to arrive to the East Windsor Farmers Market, I visited each vendor myself.  Very impressed with the teas by Stacey Wood of Whole Harmony, and the fresh sprouts, lettuce, and other healthy products by Tara Tranguch of Serafina Says Farm, and of course sampled many others products.   Serafina’s sprouts are going to be amazing on my salad today! Stacey of Whole Harmony told me she is growing their herbs right here locally in the new East Windsor Community Garden located by the dog park and skateboard park on Reservoir Avenue.  So they are grown right here – that’s FRESH.  Love that connection.  It is so important to support these growers, so make sure you visit this market and others during prime time – now!

East Windsor Farmers Mkt.

East Windsor Farmers Mkt.

And don’t miss the freshly grown Shiitake Mushrooms by Donna Yurgel of New England Green Mushrooms.  She sells at other markets as well, such as the popular Ellington, CT farmers market.  I buy a box of these every time and find new ways to add them to my recipes.  She is now offering some of her favorite recipes for people new to using Shiitakes.  They are easy to cook.

Members of the band

Members of the band

Wethersfield Market is Closed for the 4th of July weekend, but East Windsors remains open.

By the way, the Wethersfield market is closed during the 4th holiday weekend, but this is not the case the East Windsor market.  The East Windsor market has relocated from their Opening Day location on Rt 140, 149 North Road, in-front of Joe’s Fine Wine and Spirits and the Golden Gavel Auction, to the Trolley Museum at 58 North Road (also Rt 140).  The Trolley Museum has picnic tables, facilities, and antique trolleys of historical value inside and out of their buildings.  Take the kids along, enjoy a ride on the trolley, and get in some farmers markets action.  Click HERE to read more about the new location.  There’s plenty of parking available, and it is right off 91 North and South, take Exit 45 (Bridge Street) to Rt 140.

East Windsor Market Master:  

For questions, you may contact Janice Warren, the Market Master, at or at 860-292-1796.  It will be held up through October 6th, 2013.  Every Sunday, 10 am to 1 pm, and will grow just like the plants do.  They currently do not have a website, but can be found on Facebook and Patch.

East Windsor’s Farmers Market Vendors:

  • Broad Brook Brewing Company (New in town).  Check out their “Pink Dragon Wit,” a Belgium White Ale for Summer.
  • New England Green Mushrooms, Shiitake Mushrooms, Donna Yurgel
  • Sarafina Says Farms, Tara Tranguch, Farmer and Health Coach, Sprouts, Salads, etc.
  • Whole Harmony, Whole Being Heal Tea Company, Stacey Wood, Certified Herbal Practitioner
  • Shadow Valley Farms, Local Farm Fresh Milk and other dairy products
  • Sunshine & Flowers by Goldie, Dish Gardens
  • Naturally Clean, soap products, by Teresa Carey
  • Cathy T’s Landscape Designs, Cathy Testa, Container Gardens, Garden and Landscape Designs, Classes
  • BACKTRAX Band, Jimmy Fauteux and Members, Playing all kinds of events
  • Yummy CT, Distributor of CT Products

If interested in becoming a vendor, contact Janice Warren, Market Master, at or at 860-292-1796.

Here’s some more markets I saw listed in a garden magazine recently:

  • Farmington, Hill-Stead Museum,
  • Glastonbury, Hubbard Green,
  • Hartford, 156 Capitol Avenue, 2 Saturdays a month
  • Manchester, Manchester Community College, Wednesdays, 1-5 pm
  • South Windsor, 100 Market Square, Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm
  • West Hartford, LaSalle Road public parking lot, Tuesdays & Saturdays
  • Coventry, Nathan Hale Homestead,
  • Ellington, Arbor Park,

…and you can find them in Fairfield Country, Middlesex Country, New Haven, New London, and maybe just drive around and spot the tents – Stop in if you see them.  Help those helping you get the CT products we enjoy fresh.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy Cathy T

New England Green Mushrooms

New England Green Mushrooms

Local Farm Fresh Farmers Markets



We are very fortunate these days to have plenty of farmers markets to enjoy, and I finally made my first visit to this year’s offerings at the Ellington Farmers Market last Saturday morning with Steve, my husband.  I sold plants there last year, and really loved the people, site, and excitement of sharing something locally crafted with everyone, but alas, this year I have another goal (greenhouse) – but that doesn’t stop me from going to the market as a shopper this season.  And I hope to return as a vendor in 2014.

Steve whines a little about going to the market because he has other Saturday chores on his mind, but the funny thing is he always ends up buying more than I do.  He loves the pickles, hot sauces, veggies, mushrooms, and nuts.  I tend to go for the fresh cheese, garden decor items, and breads.

Scantic Valley Farms at the market

Scantic Valley Farms at the market

This weekend, their feature was fresh strawberries, so I was on a mission to get some of those too.  We also planned to buy some fresh fish to cook up for dinner for his mother and sister that evening after we attended a memorial event for a friend.  But what I didn’t expect to get was popcorn.

Freshly popped Kettle Corn offered at the market

Freshly popped Kettle Corn offered at the market

As we walked passed the booth offering hand popped kettle corn, we were quick to say no thanks to the vendor because we feared the carb count.  He was quick to point out there was probably more sugar from the strawberries we were popping into our mouths than a handful of the kettle corn.  He said the carbs were 16g (5%) and due to the way they pop it, they keep the sugar and salt low.  So with a quick taste, I agreed – it wasn’t too sugary or sweet tasting, so I bought a bag.  However, fresh veggies and fruits were on our minds, so we opted to also get not one but 4 quarts of fresh strawberries from two places.

Strong Family Farm

Strong Family Farm

Strong Family Farm, established in 1878, was at the market offering various items, and fresh strawberries.  They will be holding a fundraiser today, Monday, June 17th, at the Wood-n-Tap in Vernon, CT between 5 pm and 9 pm as part of their efforts as a non-profit and education center.  We also got strawberries from Scantic Valley Farm, the market’s feature of the weekend.  Scantic Valley Farm is a family owned farm located at 327 Ninth District Road in Somers, CT, where you can pick-your-own, but I tend to buy versus pick, so having these available at the market was a real treat.  We stocked up for the weekend.

By Faith, Love and Ladybugs

By Faith, Love and Ladybugs

Also spotted at the market were garden decor handcrafted by “Faith, Love and Ladybugs” – all upcycled, instead of recycled.  These plant tags and tea cup items were adorable.  To see more, visit this creators pages on Facebook and  Part of going to the market is participating in helping those with dreams achieve them.  This young lady’s creations were all well made and perfect for the gardens.  I regret not getting some of those cute gnomes plant markers now, but I can return to get them next time.

Faith, Love and Ladybugs upcycled for home and garden

Faith, Love and Ladybugs upcycled for home and garden

When we got home, we were excited to have fresh cheeses, eggs, french bread, fish, and mushrooms, a big healthy bunch of romaine lettuce, two kinds of cherry tomatoes, and more to share later that evening.  And on Sunday, we used the fresh strawberries in pancakes, and the night before I popped a few into champagne.  Yumm again.  All the while, you feel like you are eating healthy – because you are!

Pancakes next day with fresh strawberries and eggs from the market

Pancakes next day with fresh strawberries and eggs from the market

As I said earlier, we are lucky to have these wonderful farmers markets in our surrounding towns.  In fact, in two weeks, East Windsor will be featuring their farmers market open house on June 30th, Sunday, where I will be there along with my brother’s band, called the BACKTRAX Band.  Come by for a visit, on Rt 140 in-front of Joe’s Fine Wine and Spirits and the Golden Gavel Auction buildings – summer will be over before you know – now is your chance to get and support our Local Farm Fresh Food.  Drag your family along like I did – you won’t regret it.

Steve gets fresh romaine from the market

Steve gets fresh romaine from the market

The Ellington Farmers Market is held in the perfect location, in the center of town at Arbor Park.  It set up in a circle so you can make your rounds literally starting at one end of the circle and going all the way around back to your starting point.  The market master, Dianne Trueb, is quite impressive.  She and her farmers market organization have even created a downloadable app for the market where you can get automatic updates of  their scheduled offerings, and can join their loyalty programs.

Various cheese makers offerings, go see Margaret!

Various cheese makers offerings, go see Margaret!

By the way, I highly recommend the Feta Pesto made fresh with basil, pasteurized sheep’s milk feta, extra virgin olive oil, and pine nuts, garlic – oh yumm – spread it on the french bread.  Also, the Chevre cheese with balsamic and oil is yummy.  Margaret and her daughter host a booth showcasing freshly made cheeses by three different cheese makers, Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm, The Butterfield Farm Company, and Hastings Farm.  How nice it is to have these amazing cheeses specially delivered to the market for our access and enjoyment.

The Fish Market sides

The Fish Market sides

And “Norm’s Best” marinated mushrooms are outstanding, don’t miss those.  They got gobbled up quickly Saturday evening when we were home enjoying all the goodness of fresh.  And “The Fish Market” has a wonderful selection, we got fresh fish and cooked them up on the grill with the fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs.  It was just perfect.

Cathy Testa
Container Crazy Cathy T
(860) 977-9473 cell