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

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Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS

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

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

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

WORKSHOP PROTOTYPES

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

SPECIAL ORDERS

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

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LOCATION

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

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

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

FIRST FREE PRESENTATION

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

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NEW WORKSHOPS ADDED

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

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

STARTER KITS

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

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

Thank you,

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

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Planning for the Unexpected

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This week was kicked off by a sensational Super Bowl game, which I know not from watching it but from reading all the excited posts about the game the very next day on Facebook.

Because I am not a sport’s fanatic, I didn’t stay up to watch the game, but it was very entertaining and inspiring seeing all the comments on Monday morning from friends’ posts, which spurred my interest for sure.

Fortunately, we had recorded the game before going to bed on Super Bowl Sunday.

I have to admit, my motivation for recording the game was to see what Lady Gaga would do for her performance, but Steve also wanted to view the game the next day after work.

Due to all the hoopla on Facebook, we both were anxious to see the final seconds in particular as soon as Steve got home from work Monday evening.

As we were viewing it, however, an unexpected prompt appeared right before the last 3 minutes on our TV recording system indicating we ran out of recording time.

ACK! How did that happen?

The game went into over time and I guess that is why. You can’t imagine how disappointed we were.

What a bummer.

That rule of “what can go wrong, will go wrong” occurred in that moment, and I’m sure we will never record something without considering the over time factor ever again.

I decided to start this blog post with the fact we experienced an after-game excitement, but then a bit of let down, but no matter, the whole event was fun regardless, and we moved on, learned from it, and said well, better planning next time.

This year, I believe, will be filled with excitement at Container Crazy CT because I am offering more new workshops. And lots of “planning” is involved.

My workshops have already begun for 2017 and many plans are underway for more and new ones – from ordering plants, posting updates, letting everyone know what is coming up, and more. There are many steps involved, you can’t imagine. And in the gardening world, factors like climate, plant availability, changes in season – are out of our control, but we do our best to look ahead and consider the unexpected’s.

My workshop offerings start off with this weekend’s, for our second annual “Flower Arranging Workshop” – and all seats sold out. I’m thankful the big snowstorm coming Thursday is before Saturday when we will have a great day learning about floral design and succulents in floral arrangements. But we do plan ahead and have snow plows always ready and a backup date “if” it a big storm was to occur on our schedule dates.

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The next workshop up is my “Botanical Living Wall Art” workshop, which I’m even more excited about and have all planned out – Hopefully no surprises will occur at the last 3 minutes – but we adjust – as we always have, which is often the case in the gardening world. This a new workshop with a living plant and custom made canvas board. The creativity will be happening in this event because there are many opportunities to do so.

Following the March “Botanical Living Wall Art” workshop – being offered two times, one session in Broad Brook and the other in South Windsor, we will have a building “Terrarium Bowls“, and of course, my annual “Container Gardening Workshop” is being held in May again on several dates in Broad Brook, Vernon, and South Windsor.

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To learn more about all of them – and to plan ahead, please visit:

www.WorkshopsCT.com

Be sure to stop by so you don’t run into overtime and miss the excitement or opportunity to be part of it – like Steve and I did with the game. Seats are limited in some sessions so pre-registering early is recommended.

Hope to see you there,

Cathy Testa
860-977-9743 (texts are welcome)
containercathy@gmail.com

Container Crazy CT’s blog is all about combining nature with art, plants, and workshops.

The “Don’t Do This” List for when you Plant your Container Gardens and Patio Pots

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During my container garden workshops, I’ve seen some things attendees will do as they start to assemble their container gardens and pots. It is not intentional on their part. They are so excited to get started selecting plants and putting them into their container gardens after my talk that they will move quickly and do some little things I try to catch them on before they continue. It reminds me of things they should not be doing because it can harm the plants or make the container look unbalanced.

So, I decided to create this list – and will share it at my future workshops too. Here are the things you should not do as you put together your container gardens and patio pots.

#1) Do not fill the pot to the rim with soil mix.

Filling the pot with soil mix up to the rim of the container will cause the soil to spill out when watering, or the water might roll off the top somewhat. There should be about a 2-3” space from the top of rim to the top of soil line. If the water is not flowing well into the soil, it will not permeate down to reach the plants’ roots, plus it looks a little odd to have the plants sitting at the very top of the pot. Aesthetically, they are better placed a few inches down. Additionally, the base of the plants are somewhat protected if they are not exposed at the very top – reducing things like toppling over due to wind, etc.

#2) Do not press down hard on the soil after you have inserted the plants into the container.

Out of habit or belief the plants should be pressed firmly into the soil, I’ve seen attendees do this at my workshops. They will push down on the soil, sometimes very hard, after they inserted the plant into the pot. This is not a good idea because you are compressing the soil which may reduce the air pockets required for oxygen in the soil to be used by the plant’s roots. Unless the plant is very top heavy or was root bound (thus a little weighty on the bottom), avoid pressing down hard on the top of the soil after planting. If you need to press, do so lightly and gently. You don’t want to smash the roots or crush the base of the plant by pushing down hard onto the soil.

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#3) Do not grab the plant by the leaves and tug it from the starter pot.

When you take the plant out of its growing pot to put it into your container garden, use one hand to place over the soil at the stem base, and the other hand to turn it over carefully so it slides out of the growing pot. Try to not pull or tug at the plant by its leaves or stems. If the plant has been growing in the pot for a while, it may not slide out easily. Squeeze the growing pot a little to loosen it up or roll it gently on a table. Conversely, if the plant has been recently potted up in its growing pot, the soil may fall away from the root ball as you take it out because the roots have not grown into the new soil yet. Be careful to not damage the plant or its root system as you remove it to put in your container garden. If the plant is extremely root bound, and it is impossible to remove it from the starter pot, cut the pot at the bottom about 1” from the base to remove the closed end of the pot, and then push the plant’s root ball and soil through to remove it. A Hori-Hori garden knife or a razor knife works well for the cut.

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#4) Do not put a plant with circling roots directly into the container garden.

When roots are tightly circling around the root ball, this is referred to as girdling. The plant has been in the growing pot for a while, and the roots have nowhere to go except to encircle the root ball as it hits the sides of the inner pot. Do not put plants with tightly bound girdled roots directly into your container garden without first detangling the roots by hand if possible. If the roots are so tightly bound (really tight like they are hard to pull away or tease apart), you may use a clean sharp knife or pruners to cut them apart by cutting here and there. The roots need to be released, so to speak, to move freely and easily into the new fresh soil of your container garden.

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#5) Do not put the plants into bone dry potting mix.

When you container garden, you should lightly moisten the soil mix before you put your plants into your container garden or patio pot. Otherwise, the moisture in the starter pot will be drawn into the dry soil in the container garden thus taking it away from the plant’s roots. If the soil mix is dry, use your watering wand to moisten it – the key is to moisten, though – not to waterlog the soil, or turn it into mush. Just wet it a bit and then take your hands and mix it around lightly so the moisture is distributed. This will help the plants to adjust easily from their growing pot to their new beautiful soil environment.

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#6) Do not put dry plants into the container garden without giving it a drink first.

It is a good habit to water your plants in their growing pots before putting them into your container garden or patio pots – preferably the night before, or the morning of, or at least a ½ to 1 hour before you assemble your container garden if its soil is “bone dry” in the growing pot. Another tip – be sure to water everything in after you finished assembling your container garden – but the key is, again – don’t over water. You want everything to settle into its new environment in a well-balanced slightly moist but not waterlogged state. Do not walk away before doing this final step. And direct the water at the soil line, not on the foliage if possible, with your watering wand or watering can.

#7) Do not put your plants in full harsh sun right away.

If your plants were grown in a greenhouse and not transitioned to the outdoors yet, you need to “harden-off” your plants. This term means to move the plants, or better yet, ‘transition’ the plants into the great outdoor sunlight carefully – otherwise, they may burn. Be sure to harden them off first if grown in a greenhouse by placing them in shade to part shade for a day or two. In many cases, hardening off is not required if the plants you purchased were already outside at the nursery. You will know if your plants were not hardened off first when you see the leaves turn white if you put them directly into sun – as is the case with houseplants or plants you overwintered inside, they must be hardened off first as well when you move them outside.

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And finally, another tip – when I plant my container gardens, I tend to make pockets in the soil mix to insert each plant. In other words, I don’t fill the pot half way with soil (like I’ve seen done), place or position all the plants, and then backfill around the roots. I personally believe the pocket method makes the plants more comfortable and allows the roots to make easy contact with the new soil in the container. But that’s being a little picky perhaps – all I know is this method has worked for me for years.

To see photos of the above “Don’t Do’s”, please visit my Instagram feed or Pinterest boards where I show examples, or better yet, take one of my workshops in the future to learn and see hands-on more tips by ContainerCrazyCT.

Thank you,

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