Backyard Chickens? Oh YES!

backyard chickens fresh eggsIn August of 2013, the City of Tampa, Florida enacted what I refer to as the “Backyard Chickens Act” and city chicken lovers did a happy dance. This law changed the classification of chickens from “livestock” to “pets” and that change is what allows chickens in city yards.

The Ybor City and West neighborhoods of Tampa have been home to wild free-range chickens that are descendants of the chickens kept there since the area was settled. They are protected as icons of Tampa.  Now, anyone in city of Tampa can have chickens.

City of Tampa has a few rules that you have to follow, but they’re not terrible, promise! We want to assure you that you can easily have a small flock to help feed your family, AND have adorable feathered pets too!

The Rules for Chickens in Tampa:

backyard chickens fresh eggs

Here’s the rules:

  1. You must have a single-family home.  Chickens not allowed in apartment or condo spaces.
  2. You can have 1 chicken per 1000 sq ft of lot space. This means typical city lots can have 4 or 5 chickens.
  3. Must have a coop. The coop must be no more than 6′ tall and 125 sq. ft.  Most coops are smaller.
  4. No roosters. This is due to noise issues.

That’s pretty much it! Told you it was nothing to worry about.

For Hillsborough County, the restrictions are much more loose.

  1. Not more than 50 birds per acre if uncaged, maximum 200 birds.
  2. Not more than 100 birds per acre if always cages, maximum 200 birds.

Update as of 10/16/17: I received a response from one of the County Commissioner’s offices in regards to Hillsborough County Chicken Keeping.  It very much differs from what I was told by the Extension Office.  

“The County’s LDC <Land Development Code> defines a chicken as a Farm Animal.  As such, the keeping of a chicken is only allowed in agricultural zoning districts.  There is an option to consider ownership on a case-by-case basis, and in that regard, you should contact Joe Moreda, Director of Planning & Zoning.  His phone is 813.276.8379 and his email is”

I will say that when two authorities differ in information, it makes it very confusing for potential chicken owners!

According to State of Florida law, and again for Agricultural-Zoned property per the above, if you want to move further and sell your eggs or processed chickens, you would then be considered a Limited Poultry & Egg Farm Operation and there are rules surrounding that as well (very generous allowances, in my opinion).  You can sell up to 30 dozen eggs and 384 processed poultry per week (<–Click there for more info)! Here’s more information on this kind of farm operation from the Hillsborough County Extension Office’s Small Farms group: Limited Poultry & Egg Farm Operation FAQPlease research fully with the Extension Office, State of Florida guidelines and/or your local Code Enforcement to ensure that you are not breaking any rules before you take on this endeavor!

If you’re looking for rules for an even larger operation, we suggest contacting the Hillsborough County Extension Office.

New to Chickens? That’s OK!

So, you’ve never had chickens before? That’s ok. There is nothing to worry about! We here at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc., have all the knowledge and supplies you need. We can get you started now with little peepers here in the Fall, and come Spring you can have lots of cluckin’ eggs!  We have a great FAQ for you right here about baby chicks as well.

backyard chickens fresh eggsIn between purchasing baby chicks and getting eggs, great fluffy-butt moments await you watching your chicks grow into chickens.  If you have kids, even better! Teaching them responsibility for animals and where their food comes from are lessons they will appreciate, share with their friends, and most likely continue for their families.

We hope all of this sounds good to you, because we love to spread the love when it comes to chickens. Whether you want to collect fresh eggs for your family, start a family business selling eggs, or just have a new set of feathered friends, they are a wonderful addition to any family.



Special Announcement: 

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply is looking for a carpenter/woodworker, to build City of Tampa code-compliant coops for our customers to purchase.  Sell-able in-store display pieces would be built by you based on our price point and size needs.  Serious inquiries only. Must be reliable and able to deliver on a deadline, as well as willing to collaborate with us so we can offer a quality product at a reasonable price.  

backyard chickens fresh eggsDo you fit these criteria? Leave a comment below to let us know you are interested!

(Do yourself a favor, put your email address in the format of:  janedoe at gmail dot com, then it won’t be picked up by spambots).  


Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.

Providing Pollinator Habitats

Considering the decline in pollinator populations, it is imperative that we provide pollinator habitats.

A couple of days ago in Protect The Pollinators we talked about the important role that pollinators play in the food chain. We also went over how pollinators are declining in numbers.

We can provide food and shelter to help keep local pollinator populations in our area healthy and helpful.

Tips To Attract A Pollinator

pollinator– Plant an area of flowers rich in nectar and pollen which flower at different times during the growing season

– Plant larger clumps of the same variety

– Plant flowers in sunny areas that are sheltered from wind

– Bees favorite colors are blue, purple, white, and yellow and they like a variety of shapes

– Do not use any pesticides in the area that you are leaving for the pollinators, chemical or organic

pollinator – Provide sheltered areas for pollinators to nest, and if you are so inclined, you can raise colonies of honeybees!






Pollinator Flower Favorites

Here’s a pretty infographic you can refer to when you are planting your Pollinator Garden.

pollinators flowers bees


Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.

Protect the Pollinators

***MESSAGE FROM SHELL’S FEED MANAGEMENT: In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma we hope you are cleaning up, rebuilding, and moving forward. We will get through this as a community.  There is nothing we cannot accomplish when we work together.  #TampaStrong #FloridaStrong***

Previously in Part 2 of Deciphering Our Organic World we talked about open-pollination and its role in the genetic diversity of plants on our planet. Pollinators are a major part of that open-pollination, thus are absolutely vital to the survival of all life on Earth.  In case you weren’t thinking it was that important, over 80% of all flowering plants require pollinators in order to produce seeds. This includes plants that make up our food supply, and the plants that feed our animals!

What Kinds of Pollinators Exist?

pollinatorsThere are many types of pollinators that do this vital work.  Bees (like honeybees and bumblebees) do the majority of the pollination for most plants. They are by far not the only ones.

Hoverflies are the second-most important pollinators of flowering plants across the world.

PollinatorsSome species of solitary, hunting and predatory wasps pollinate in the process of looking for food and mating.

Bee flies pollinate certain kinds of flowers with their long probosces.

Certain species of butterflies, moths, ants, beetles, thrips, and midges also are responsible for pollination.Pollinators

Finally, animals can be pollinators too! Those that sip nectar, like hummingbirds and honeyeaters, bats, as well as other small vertebrates like rodents, possums, lizards, monkeys and lemurs all pollinate.


Interactions of Plants & Pollinators

The interaction of plants and their pollinators can be quite complicated. Some plants mimic the male or female counterparts and attract pollinators with the promise of a mate that is never actually there. Other plants mimic pheremones of prey to attract hunting insect species.  Still others mimic shapes and colors that are attractive for a potential pollinator.

What is Killing Our Pollinators?

So, what do we have to protect our pollinators from?  Mainly, a group of insecticides called Neonicotinoids, which are a systemic nerve toxin for insects.  This type of insecticide doesn’t discriminate between insects that you don’t want in your garden and insects that you do want to have there.  They kill almost ALL insects. They linger in pollen, nectar, roots and leaves for pollinators to find long after spraying.  They can even remain in the soil for many years after spraying.  Neonicotinoids have been linked to CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder, in some studies. Because of this, the EU has restricted their usage.  Below is an info panel on Neonicotinoids (yes, based on science, not hype!).pollinators

How can we help?

Simply, do not use chemical insecticides in the garden.  There are many organic methods for insect control that, when applied correctly, are just as effective and are not harmful to beneficial insect pollinators. Neonicotinoids go by names such as Imadacloprid, Clothianidin, and more. Here is a well-referenced Wiki article on this class of chemicals:

We have lots of options for organic pest control available at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply.  Please stop by and we will help you get what you need!Pollinators

Next time we will talk about pollinator food sources and habitats, and how we can supply these very easily for our pollinator friends.


Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.


Help Your Pets Stay Calm During Hurricane Irma

If your dog or cat is like my Gilbert, a Min-pin/Italian greyhound mix, your pet might get nervous around loud noises, or even just rain.  Here’s some tips to keep your fuzzy friends calm and feeling loved during Hurricane Irma #HurricaneIrma

Hurricane Irma, #HurricaneIrma

Deciphering Our Organic World, Part 2

As promised, in Part 2 of this article we will be discussing what hybrid, heirloom, GMO, and open-pollination really mean.

heirloom Heirloom

When gardeners think of Heirlooms, we automatically think of tomatoes.  Being the most popular heirloom crop, it is understandable. However, heirlooms are actually any seed that has a history of 50 years or more and that is not pollinated by human efforts.  Heirlooms have a story.  They are passed from generation to generation within families (thus the term “heirloom furniture”, there are also “heirloom seeds”).  Often an heirloom has great cultural significance, for instance, some types of corn still exist that fed the Aztecs.  Heirloom seeds traditionally are the best of the best in a harvested crop; the best tasting tomatoes, squash, beans, etc., have their seeds preserved for the next season.  Every year you plant last year’s best; when this happens over generations you get great-tasting food.  This is why heirloom seeds are so coveted and cherished.

heirloom pollinatorOpen-pollination

Open-pollination means that nature has taken its own course in plant fertilization. It means to be pollinated by actions of nature, such as insects, bees, birds, and wind.  Over time, plants left to reproduce in this way are more genetically diverse, which allows for adaptation to their environment.  This also means that the seeds are genetically stable, meaning the seeds will create the same plant that made them when they are planted.  This is a great example of the process of natural selection, or “survival of the fittest.”  Many heirloom seed collectors require that only open-pollinated fruit seeds can be collected to pass on, no pollinating assistance from humans is allowed, in order to preserve the line.

As a side note, in nature, happy accidents can and do happen.  If a flower is pollinated by a bee, or the wind, with a related-but-different pollen, and the fruit survives and is genetically stable to the next generation as well, new cultivars are created by these random acts. They won’t be heirlooms until they have history, but this is how genetics remain diverse and adapt to the environment.  Those that don’t make it don’t pass along their genetics to the Earth.



Hybrid Tea Rose

Hybrid plants are created by humans who manually cross-pollinate different varieties of the same species.  This can also happen naturally!  Plant zucchini and squash next to each other and see what happens when the bees have their way with them!  In the strictest sense, though, when you buy a seed packet that is labeled “hybrid,” or F1, this means that the cross-pollination was deliberate to achieve a desired result, such as disease resistance, color, size of fruit, and more.

Most would say, well, that is all well and good, I like having tomatoes that withstand wilt and make BIG fruit. But what happens if you want to collect the seeds from that fruit to grow them again?  Do the seeds from the fruit of the hybrid seeds you planted re-create the same fruit when those seeds are planted?

The short answer is, “no.”  Unstable genetics in manual hybrids make it most likely that you will get a plant with genetics from earlier generations of either of the plants involved in the original pollination.  So, hybrid seeds must be purchased to be planted again.  Large agribusiness relies on the fact that you have to buy their seeds over and over again every year in order to get the same hybrid fruits and veggies.


Alright, it seems the “dirty word” of the decade is “GMO”.  This acronym inspires hissing and booing in many crowds.  Wherever you stand on this topic, it’s important to know what GMO means to our food supply.

“GMO” stands Genetically Modified Organism.  It is the result of laboratory manipulation of the plant’s genetic material, inserting DNA from a different species (some DNA is not even from plants!) into the DNA of the plant being manipulated.  Sources of the foreign DNA could be viruses, animals, bacteria, or even humans.  GMO is usually found in major grain crops like corn and soy to increase yields per acre and increase resistance to disease as well as sprayed defoliants made to eliminate weeds in the fields without killing the crop.

There is some concern that GMO crops have unintended side effects to those that eat them, and the debate about this topic is still being discussed in many circles.  In that respect, product labels of “non-GMO” have become important to those who are concerned that GMO crops are affecting them in a negative fashion.

One Last Distinction – Hybrids vs. GMOs

Hybrids and GMOs are NOT the same thing.  Hybrid seeds are created by manual pollination of different varieties of the same species.  GMO seeds are created by splicing the DNA of one genetic organism into the DNA of another (possibly completely unrelated) genetic organism.  As an example, hybrids might be created by pollinating a red dahlia and a yellow dahlia and finding out what kinds of dahlia plants that cross might produce.  GMOs might be created by taking the DNA of a particular kind of wheat and inserting the DNA of a virus, in the hopes that the wheat would no longer be susceptible to that virus.

We hope that these definitions help clear up any misnomers you might have had.  As always, if you have any questions, we are here to help.



Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.

Deciphering Our Organic World, Part 1

There are so many terms thrown around in gardening and food.  “Organic” and “GMO” are two of the major ones. There are others that I will highlight as well.  I want to take a moment and clarify what these terms mean so that you can make educated decisions.  It’s a lot of information, so I’ve divided it up into 2 posts.

In Part 1 I will talk about what it is to be Organic and OMRI listed.  Part 2, scheduled for next week, will deal with hybrid, heirloom, GMO, and open-pollination.

organic USDA OMRIOrganic 

It seems to be an enormous buzz-word these days, so I will delve into the two relevant meanings of “organic” here.

The word “organic” as defined on means “noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.”  *yawn* Let’s try again.

Living organisms are considered carbon-based.  You may have heard the term “Carbon-based life form” in movies about aliens and Area 51.  There is a whole section of chemistry called “organic chemistry” dealing with carbon-containing compounds.  This definition of “organic” simply means that a product only contains ingredients found in nature. Or, they are the byproducts of the breakdown of living things after they have passed. Organic USDA OMRI

In the US, a producer cannot tell you that something is “organic” unless it meets some predetermined criteria set by the government.  Those criteria are listed in the US Department of Agriculture’s NOP, or the National Organic Program.  No points for creativity there, right?

Organic USDA OMRIUSDA Organic Certification 

These days, the most commonly found usage of “organic” in the labeling of products is the “USDA Organic” green and white sticker.  This means that the USDA has certified that this product has met the NOP criteria of being completely organic in its production and contents. Go to: and click Organic for more information.

Now, a little nit-pick note:  a product doesn’t have to have a USDA Organic label to have all-natural organic ingredients in it.  Does that surprise you? It usually means that the product has not been submitted to the USDA for organic certification.  In the same vein, a product can be USDA Organic without being OMRI listed (see below for OMRI information).

Another quick note: you must read labels carefully to see what is in them.  Sometimes, ingredients might sound like they are synthetic, when they are found naturally-occurring in our environment.  In this instance, they may be listed with their chemical designation because they may not have another name!  It helps to look things up if you are unsure.  And I don’t mean just on Wikipedia, because that information could be incorrect.

Bonus Round: OMRI Certified OrganicOrganic USDA OMRI

OMRI is the Organic Materials Review Institute ( It is an international non-profit organization which decides what production materials and end products are considered organic.  If something is OMRI-listed, it means the product met the criteria of OMRI.  In many industries this designation is the pinnacle of organic certification. Companies pay a lot of money to have their products analyzed in order to get this certification and be put on “the list.”

We hope that these definitions help clear up any misnomers you might have had.  As always, if you have any questions, we are here to help.


Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.

Container Prep for Fall Planting & Infographic

It’s nearly fall, and in Florida that means it’s about time for the bonus round – an extra growing season that our northern neighbors don’t get.  With few exceptions, we really can grow food year-round!  And many of us grow container crops.   So many things grow really well in containers that in a limited-space urban setting like Tampa, planting this way just makes sense for many gardeners.

Here’s a helpful infographic I put together today to prep for Fall Container Gardening.

As always, if you need help, advice on what to plant, or supplies for this project, feel free to stop in, ask a question in the comments below, and/or contact us.

Container Gardening Preparation

container gardening preparation

Let me know what you think about the infographic – is it helpful? Would you like another one for something else? I’m all ears!  And, they’re kinda fun to make.  🙂


Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.

The Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply Blog!

dog hello welcome blog Shell's


Hello! We are starting a blog here at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply to talk about what’s going on in our world of pets, gardening, organic growing, urban agriculture, chickens, rabbits, and more!

I’m Marissa, I’ll be your garden writer, pet-post producer, social media point person, infographic creator, community hand-shaker, and general information-bringer to the website.  You may have noticed some growing pains in recent months here on our website.  We are always changing it up around here, so it was time to bring you more useful web content.  We hope you enjoy!

My goal is to keep you informed about the store, the seasons, and how we can help you make the most of the things you love.  If you’re reading this, you probably love one or more of the following:

  • chickens chicks hello welcome blog Shell'sBlogs
  • Growing Your Own Food
  • Edible Gardens
  • Chickens
  • Dogs
  • Organic Gardening
  • Cats
  • Urban Gardening
  • Pet Birds
  • Seasonal Lawn Care
  • Pet Health
  • Chickens
  • Wild Birds
  • Rose Gardens
  • Getting your Hands Dirty
  • Permaculture
  • Reptiles
  • Chickens
  • Fish
  • Square-foot Gardening
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Container Gardening
  • Sugar Gliders
  • Do-it-yourself Yard Projects
  • Having a Beautiful Lawn
  • Did I mention Chickens?


tomatoes hello welcome Shell's BlogI’m sure I’ve missed some things, feel free to leave me some comments below our blog entries with suggestions on content you would like to see, and I’ll put it on the list.  Right now we’re coming into Fall Planting time, so I’ll be talking about those sorts of things for the moment.

Stay tuned…and if you’ve never heard of us before, I just want to welcome you to Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply – your source for garden, farm and pet products and information since 1961!  We are very happy to have been a great part of the Tampa Community for over 55 years!



Marissa, Director of Communications

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply, Inc.

P.S. Please sign up for our Newsletter! Click that “newsletter” link that you just read, and then look on the left column.  Fill in your email address in that blank space and click “Sign up”.  We will be bringing you extra-special content and exclusive offers through the newsletter that you won’t find anywhere else!