Top 3 Tips For Feeding Wild Birds in Winter

Wild birds

As the Winter Solstice approaches, the chances that cold weather will strike, even here in Florida, are increasing. Our Wild Bird populations typically count on their native habitats to provide food for the Winter – and increased fat and protein intake is essential for keeping birds warm.

But as their native habitats are being given over to development, and developed land is being wiped clean of their natural food sources (berries, insects, etc.), it’s a good idea to give wild birds a little helping hand, especially if you enjoy bird watching.

Today I’ll give you my Top 3 Tips for Feeding Wild Birds in Winter. Think of it as a holiday gift for your feathered friends.

For more information about feeding wild birds, you can take a look at my previous article on this topic, the Shell’s Feed Bird Food Guide.

Shells feed garden supply tampa florida bird feed feeders food seed fruit wild birds

Tip #1: Increase the number of wild bird feeders (and your stock of wild bird food)

Wild Birds needs MORE food to keep warm on cold days. They stay warm by retaining their body heat within their fluffed feathers. They generate body heat through movement, shivering (quick flexing & relaxing of muscles over and over again), and increasing their heart rate.

Birds burn fat and protein for warmth.

This activity of warming themselves burns more fat and uses up a lot of protein to keep them at optimal temperature, so having extra fat and protein calories available from you is super helpful to wild birds on those cold days.

One way to give them more food is to position more feeders in your yard. Add a few larger feeders this time of year so that you don’t have to refill as often.

wild birds bird feeder
One of the large feeders we carry at Shell’s!

Can birds survive without your help? Sure. Nature finds a way. But the benefits of feeding wild birds aren’t just for them, they’re for you too! The joy of watching these small creatures is immense – and better than television!

Shell’s has many kinds of feeders available for you!

There’s even a workshop this Saturday 12/14/19 from 9a-1p to decorate your own, and learn about what birds like which seeds too! Link below in the text.

wild birds decorate bird feeder workshop holiday

Attend our Holiday Maker’s Workshop this Saturday, December 14th, from 9a-1p (come any time during that time) to Decorate a Bird Feeder. See more details here. We’ll be showcasing our feeders and wild bird homes too, and letting you know about our Bulk Seed Weigh Station, where you can learn about making custom seed blends for your backyard critters!

Tip #2: Use Suet & All-Natural Peanut Butter as Wild Bird Supplements

Suet – a natural fat source

Adding more seed is great for wild birds, but during the coldest days of the year, additional fat is definitely helpful. Using suet – which is like lard, the remnants of beef fat after processing – and all natural peanut butter (NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS OR HONEY! TOXIC TO BIRDS!) is a great way to add extra fat to your feathered friends’ diets.

wild birds suet cage woodpecker
Red-headed woodpecker on a suet cage.

Commercial suet is the safest form of suet – it contains the proper ingredients to keep it from turning into a liquid a higher temperatures.

_______________________________________________
Try one of these for your suet needs, brought to you by Kaytee:
Positively Peanut High-Energy Suet
Suet & Seed
Orange Harvest Suet
Cherry Harvest Suet
_______________________________________________

In a state where the temperature can fluctuate nearly 60 degrees in a day (from freezing to the 80s isn’t uncommon, right?) commercially-produced suet blocks are the best bet. And here’s a cage to put it in.

Peanut Butter, Fat & Protein Source

For peanut butter, you can use things like pine cones to load up with a peanut butter and seed mix to place out into the yard – they’re easy to hang on tree limbs or from other feeders. There’s lots of recipes for peanut butter bird mixes online and ways to present them to the birds too.

wild birds peanut butter DIY pine cone
Pine cone filled with peanut butter and seeds

A couple of other fun DIY ideas:

wild birds apple bird feeder

Take an apple, cut it in half, scoop out the core, and fill with peanut butter and seed mix. Some birds really like fruit so nothing goes to waste! Place on a flat surface for birds to enjoy. Or, you can use the stem to hang it, or use a stainless steel screw and screw it in (it can be used again in the future!)

wild birds orange bird feeder
This also works with oranges & citrus fruits.

Another idea: Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll to coat with peanut butter, then roll it through a seed mixture. The more peanut butter you have on there the more seeds will stick to it. Then string a string through the tube and hang!

wild birds paper towel roll peanut butter seed feeder bird feeder
Make sure you get a custom seed mix from Shell’s for this! Make different ones for different birds!

Use a jar or tin can or an old coffee cup to make different variations of bird seed feeders!

wild birds coffee cup bird feeder
You can glue a matching saucer to the side of the cup to replace the stick for extra cuteness factor! Use STRONG super glue adhesive if you do this.

Tip #3: Wild Birds Need Consistent Access to Clean Water

Seems counter-intuitive to us, since we don’t typically bathe outside when it’s cold out, but birds require access to clean water on a consistent basis, not just for drinking, but for bathing too.

wild birds bird bath

Regular bathing keeps their feathers working properly, allows them to fluff and retain the heat that they generate to keep warm. If their feathers are not clean and fluffy, this doesn’t work.

Luckily for us here in Florida, we don’t usually get enough long cold freezes to ice over a bird bath or pond for long periods of time. But, you will need to still keep the water clean and debris-free during the winter so that your birdie friends can come take a sip, or a nice bath, whenever they need it.

Those are my Top 3 Tips for Feeding Wild Birds in Winter! I hope this was helpful to you.

We want you to share the love of bird watching with us! It could easily become your newest favorite past time.

wild birds mockingbird florida state bird
Mockingbird, the Florida State Bird.

We here at Shell’s have an extensive variety of seeds for your bird friends as well as different kinds of feeders for you to present that seed mix.

Our ever-popular Shell’s Wild Bird Mix (25 and 50 lb bags) has a great variety of seeds to attract the most colorful and lively birds to your feeders – an easy mix at a fantastic price! Order online and pick it up at the store, we’ll even load it for you. It comes in 25 and 50 pound bags – let us recommend a container to store the extras in to avoid attracting the wrong critters!

If you have questions about your birds, reach out to us! In store, on the phone, or leave a comment below – we’re here to help!

Until next time,

Marissa

We Are Grateful For YOU

As today is Thanksgiving, we focus on what we are grateful for.

If you were to ask me my favorite part of our business, without hesitation I would say it’s getting to interact with our local community in a real grass-roots kind of way.

Today’s blog happens to fall on Thanksgiving – and so I wanted to take the opportunity to express the gratitude of Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply on behalf of our staff family (because really, we are a family too).

Being Grateful is Uplifting

I hope you’ve seen our #21DaysOfGratitude Challenge that we’ve been doing since November 8 – 21 days to get into the habit of being grateful for what we have. It’s something I started last year, and wanted to continue. I never want to forget to take a moment to be appreciative, and that’s what this article is about today – We at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply are grateful for YOU, our customers.

We are a local family-owned business that has been around nearly 60 years – no small feat when you really think about it – and we attribute our success to the service we provide to our customers.

But without customers to service – we wouldn’t be here at all.

We are grateful you support local businesses

Our store in the late 60s/early 70s, approximately

So, every time you come in and purchase something at Shell’s, you are supporting a local family business, all the families of the people we employ, AND keeping your money local (like your tax dollars) so that you support your community, just by shopping with us. We think that’s important.

We also realize how important having you walk through OUR doors really is, and that is why we work so hard to make it a pleasant experience, each and every time. You chose us, and we don’t take that lightly.

Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply as it stands today.

From picking up some food for your dog, taking care of a pesky pest problem, to bringing home a new flock of chickens, we’ll make sure you have everything you need to accomplish your goals. If there’s something we don’t carry, we don’t mind referring you to our neighbors for certain things, as our neighbors send us people when they don’t have something you need.

“I like all the treats by the register, Mom – so much to sniff!”

We are grateful for the opportunity to help you problem-solve

We take the time to learn about what you’re trying to do, if you’re willing to share it with us. If there’s other products that might do it better, we’ll tell you. If you’re wanting to use something that won’t do what you are wanting it to do, we’ll tell you. And if you have a handful of things you bring to the register to fix a problem and you only really need one of them, we’ll tell you.

Why do we take the time to do that? Because we’re here to help. We want you to remember us the next time you need help with something, and come back. More importantly we want you to tell all your friends and family about us so they will come see us too.

See, that’s why YOU are so important to us. We want to help you accomplish what you need to get done as simply as possible, so that you’ll tell others that you had a great experience.

We are grateful for our longevity in the community

We are so much more than a farm feed store, which was our humble beginnings nearly 60 years ago. Garden supplies are huge source of enjoyment for us, especially live plants, the Earthbox line, and growing soils like Happy Frog Potting Soil (it’s so awesome).

Earthbox Standard with staking system growing tomatoes.

Our variety of pet supplies is pretty massive, too, not just the supplies for dogs and cats but all the exotics (like chinchillas, sugar gliders), rodents (like hamsters, guinea pigs), birds (like finches, parrots), wild birds, even some fish and reptile supplies too.

And don’t forget that we have live chickens and rabbits, and stuff for farm animals. We love it when people bring their kids to see the fuzzy wiggle nosed bunnies and the fluffy little peepers.

Stop in to see our live chickens & rabbits!

We are grateful for your friendship & patronage

We appreciate it when you stop in for supplies, or just to say hello to our friendly staff. We love it when you trust us for our knowledge to help you out, and we love being able to help you out to your car with your heavy items. It’s what we do, because we are thankful that you chose us. Carrying a heavy load to your car is the least we can do.

So, while we are closed today, Thanksgiving Day, so that we can be with our families – and we hope you are with yours too – we’ll be here for you when you’re ready to come in for your next dog food order, bale of hay, some veggie plants, or that one thing you need that no one else carries.

We are grateful for your support

We are truly grateful for you. Because of you we can continue to serve this community, and Tampa Bay at large. And that’s just the way we like it.

If you’re thankful for us too, please pay us the greatest compliment by telling the people you know about us. Your referral is the best gift we can ever receive from our customers. For those of you who already do that – thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

We’ll see you soon!

Sincerely,

Marissa

Holiday Recipes Shared By You

As we prepare for Thanksgiving (just 2 weeks away from today!) I wanted to share some yummy treats from our family, and also some of the ones you shared with us from last Sunday’s (11/10) Sunday Survey Facebook post where I asked for your favorite Thanksgiving recipes!

I love this season – we get some cool mornings, I might get to wear a sweater once in awhile, maybe even boots…and I love food. I love to cook for entertaining and trying new things too, like the easy and delicious appetizer I made last night for a girls night get together (don’t worry, I shared it with you below!).

So, here’s some great recipes from our community, reprinted here from that Facebook post, and a couple of my own, too.

SAVORY HERB STUFFING

From our friend and AMAZING Earthbox aficionado Susan Roghair comes this great Stuffing recipe! It’s vegetarian, and looks delicious!

Savory Herb Stuffing. Photo Credit: Susan Roghair

Ingredients:

1 large loaf whole-grain bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup red onion, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1/4 cup fresh sage, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon black crushed pepper
1 1/2 cups of clear vegetable broth

Instructions:

The night before, cube your bread and set it in a large bowl to dry out. You want it to be the texture of day old bread, noticeably dry but not rock hard.
 You can also dehydrate it in a dehydrator if you prefer.

Bread cubes!

Preheat oven to 350F.

Lightly rub oil on a 11 x 7 x 2 glass loaf dish.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, and add the onions, celery, sage, thyme and rosemary. Cover and cook until tender about 14 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the parsley, black pepper, bread cubes, vegetable broth and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix well.

Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes or until top is crisp and golden.

REAL MASHED POTATOES

Long-time customer Norma Doyle said that her favorite recipe is mashed potatoes – the real ones.

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes. Photo Credit: SimplyRecipes

The recipe is simple: Yukon Gold Potatoes (skin off or skin kept, whatever you like), cubed, boiled until soft, and mashed with a mix of half cream and half butter until you get the consistency you want.

Yukon Gold Potatoes

I would add to that salt and pepper to taste. You could also add roasted garlic (look at my recipe next!) and have garlic mashed potatoes!

OVEN ROASTED GARLIC

This is one of my favorite flavors – roasted garlic – and this is my recipe for making it. It is so versatile – once the garlic is roasted, it becomes soft like butter. You can spread it on bread with butter to make garlic toast. You can spread it across the top of a perfectly grilled steak, or add it to your mashed potatoes! So good!

Roasted Garlic in the foil pack. Photo Credit: Delish

Ingredients:

Whole Garlic Bulbs
Olive Oil to Drizzle

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400F. On a cutting board, hold your garlic bulb on it’s side. With a very sharp chef’s knife (not serrated, a flat blade – trust me, less mess that way), cut off the top 1/4 to 1/3 of the bulb at the growing end tips (not the root end). Put those cuttings aside for a moment. Place your bulbs on an aluminum foil sheet clustered in the center, root end down, leaving enough foil to be able to wrap around them and make a pouch. You can also use a baking dish, just extend the baking time by about 5-10 minutes. Pull any pieces of garlic clove tips out of the garlic skins that you cut off earlier and place them in with the bulbs, discarding or composting the garlic “paper” husks.

Drizzle olive oil generously over the bulbs. Wrap up the aluminum foil to make a pouch, and close it (or tightly cover the baking dish with foil). Place foil on a cookie sheet and put in the oven (or just set the baking dish in the oven) for at least 45 minutes, I prefer 50 minutes (remember, add 5-10 minutes for a baking dish). The enclosed pouch with steam heat AND roast the garlic at the same time. When time is up, take out the cookie sheet/dish and allow to cool enough to touch the garlic (you can vent the aluminum foil to help the cooling process).

Next, in a bowl with a lid for storage (because it’s garlic I recommend glass!) take each bulb and squeeze each clove to remove the roasted garlic inside and put it into the bowl. The garlic should be a golden yellow and be very soft. Continue to squeeze out all of the garlic from the bulb husks. Finally from the aluminum foil pouch, empty as much of the leftover oil as you can into the bowl with the garlic. Store the bowl of garlic and oil in the refrigerator and use as needed. Discard or compost the now empty garlic bulb husks.

There are so many uses for this garlic – in other recipes like mashed potatoes, as a spread, as flavoring for your favorite saute dishes, to put in soups…really the possibilities are endless. It is my FAVORITE way to eat garlic. And during this time of year when catching colds is very prominent, garlic can help you stay well – so keep eating it!

CRANBERRY APPLE CRUMBLE

From our customer Carolyn Albertson, here’s a versatile dish that can be breakfast or dessert or a side dish with dinner! Yum!

Cranberry Apple Crumble. Photo Credit: Country Living

Ingredients:

Filling: 3 cups chopped mixed apples
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
Topping: 1 stick butter, softened; plus extra butter to coat the baking dish
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Instructions:

Apples, cranberries, sugar – easy!
Photo Credit: Dash of Jazz

Mix filling ingredients and place in buttered 1 1/2 qt casserole dish. Topping: Combine 1 stick softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 1 1/2 cup quick cook oats, 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Crumble on top of the apple/cranberry mixture. Bake at 350 for an hour or until bubbly.

Carolyn notes: “we love the topping so much, we tend to make a double batch so it is like granola on top.” Also an Editor’s note, you can remove the nuts for nut allergies and such.

BRIE & JAM PUFF PASTRY BITES

My awesome neighbor Kelley (from SimpliAIR A/C) and I made this one last night before we headed off for a get together with friends, and it was a hit! The original recipe called for just Fig Jam, which I used, but I also mixed it up and made some with other ingredients too, such as a piece of fresh apple instead of jam, some I made with Apricot Jam, and some I made with Lemon Curd. Oh holy moly they were SO GOOD! Don’t expect them to last. In fact, you might just plan for doubling this recipe.

Brie & Jam Puff Pastry Bites. Photo Credit: MyRecipes

Ingredients:

1 Frozen Puff Pastry Sheet (17.3oz package) or 1 Crescent Roll Pastry Sheet
Fig, Apricot, or whatever jam you like (feel free to mix it up!)
1 wheel of brie cheese
Flour to coat surface of dough cutting board and top of dough to keep rolling pin from sticking

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400F. On your cutting/dough rolling board, sprinkle some flour. Unroll your puff pastry or crescent roll pastry sheet and place on the board. Flour the top and your rolling pin and roll to a size of 10″ x 10″ square. Cut square into quarters, then cut each of those pieces into quarters again, making sixteen 2.5″ squares.

With a fork, poke holes into the pastry dough squares about 8 times per square, try to evenly space them (don’t get all exact about it, just poke holes all over the squares). Then, in a NONSTICK mini muffin pan, lay each square across an muffin cup, and gently press down the pastry dough into the cup, allowing the corners of the squares to lay up over the edges of the cups. If your pan tends to stick, probably a good idea to spray some nonstick oil onto the pan first, or use butter and flour to coat the cups.

Left: dough pressed into muffin cups (instructions above). Right: First baking of dough AND Brie cheese added before second baking (instructions below). Photo Credit: Whitney Bond

Bake the cups for 8 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and take a spoon or the rounded handle end of silverware or steak knife and push down the center of your pastry cups to make room for the cheese and fruit topping. Then, once you’ve made some space, add a teaspoon of brie cheese and a teaspoon of whichever toppings you like (jam, fresh fruit, fruit curd, etc). and bake for another 6-8 minutes (in my oven it was about 7 minutes, it would have been OK at 6). You want the cheese to be bubbly and the points on the cups to be dark golden brown.

Left: Jam of your choice or other topping added to cups before second baking (instructions above). Right: Second baking of cups to make them golden (I like my pastry even darker than this) Photo Credit: Whitney Bond

ALLOW THE CUPS TO COOL BEFORE REMOVING THEM FROM THE PAN. You don’t want the yummy stuff to run out of the pastry cups. Once the cheese and toppings have “hardened” back up, gently work the cups loose from the pan and place on your platter to serve (or your dish to transport to the party!). Enjoy!

Well, that’s the recipes I wanted to share with all of you, from some of our customers, and from myself too. I had a lot of fun with this one (because I’m a foodie), and they all sound amazing! I’m probably going to make all of them.

Oh! I almost forgot, there is also a previous article with some Fall-time recipes here if you’d like to check it out!

Thank you for reading, and see you next time!

Sincerely,

Marissa

2019: Resolutions For You and More

2019: Resolutions For You and More
By Marissa

As we jump head first into 2019, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions and why we make them at the beginning of the year.  My hope is to inspire you with some history and maybe a slightly different perspective.

I also am sneaking a peek ahead to things that are coming up for all of you here at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply.  We’re excited to be adding or expanding upon some new things that we know you’ll enjoy, and that will help you. I also wanted to highlight some of the great resources we already offer you, in case you haven’t discovered them yet.

But first:

Speaking of traditions, are you making Hoppin’ John to eat on 1/1/19? That simple tasty dish of black-eyed peas is said to bring you good fortune all year if eaten New Year’s Day.  I know I’ll be making some.

What other New Year’s traditions do you have in your family?

Resolutions:  Why do we make them?

The practice of resolutions is taken from the concept that the year represents the span of one lifetime of “Father Time” – he is a baby on New Year’s Day, and an Old Man on December 31st, who passes on at Midnight to be replaced by the New Year Babe. Each year is the lifetime of the “Brothers of Time”, as the years are all “related”, in a sense.  Considering that, could you imagine having 2,018 brothers? Fun to think about.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day is a tradition passed from our pagan ancestors, who made material offerings to the god Janus for a prosperous and healthy year.  The month of January is named after this ancient deity. 

On New Year’s Day, think of your life as being renewed, like a newborn baby.  Being newly born means that you have your whole life ahead of you, and you can make anything happen during the time that we have on this Earth from here forward.  The concept, really this frame of mind, allows you a new chance to define yourself, be “resolved” to change things about yourself that you want to be better about, and to release the bonds that hold you back from anything you want to accomplish.  At the New Year you can decide to shed your past, shrug off grief and malaise, take a deep breath, and truly walk forward again, in full control of your own destiny.

How cool is that?

People joke about resolutions, and how nobody actually achieves them, they’re just a way for advertisers to make money off of your vulnerability at the passage of time. I think that if you are determined, and really put your mind to it, nothing can stop the human spirit. And I love nothing more than rising above the status quo and popular opinion. Being average isn’t any fun.

Another tick on the date calendar reminds us of how fast time goes by rather pointedly, and poignantly, this time of year.  But really, the creation of resolutions are based on a kind of magic from our pagan ancestors who believed in the inner power of themselves and their spirit relationships to the earth, elements, and sky. So when you achieve something you resolved to do, you are, by proxy, a magical being! (OK, maybe I’m stretching a bit – but I’ve always wanted to have a bit of magic working for me…haven’t you?)

My point is, I know I have never underestimated the power of a determined child.  As it is a new year, and you are “reborn,” you now have another chance to be that determined child and follow your own path.

I’ll share my resolutions with you, and I hope you’ll share yours with me.  My path this year – aside from doing work for the store and making us better equipped for the digital age, is for me to actively spend time creating things that I love.  Sewing, crochet, and crafting is one way I do that, writing is another. I really enjoy making something useful out of the materials around me.

Also this year I’m going to do more of something that I shared with my father, who passed on many years ago.  I want to spend significant time doing the work to grow food to provide for my family and share with my friends.  If you’ve read my blog from the beginning, you know that my father was a subsistence farmer in North Florida, grew what he ate and ate what he grew, traded the rest to a neighbor who raised pigs and chickens for meat, eggs, and composted manure. He also raised worms and fished the plentiful lakes up there. So I will be making efforts to spend time in the dirt every day, doing what needs to be done to have a garden flourish.  I’m excited and anticipate having lots to share with you, I hope you’ll share your adventures with me too.

Join me in growing something of your own – even if it’s just one tomato plant, or one sunflower.  Growing something yourself has a sense of satisfaction that is hard to find anywhere else. It acknowledges the beauty of new life and the cycle of living things as it sprouts, grows, matures, fruits, and eventually is spent and returns to the Earth to start the cycle all over again.

Just like Father Time on New Year’s Eve night.

So let’s look at some resources we have for you right now that can help you on your own journeys through this next year, especially if you have resolutions to garden, raise chickens, or take better care of your pets.

The Chicken Report

I post the chickens we get in each week on our website.  The post is made on Saturday mornings because we usually don’t get our chickens until Thursday or Friday during the week.  The link is: shellsfeed.com/chicken-report.  Make sure to bookmark it and check every week to see what’s new!  I also post a reminder message on social media about the list update – usually with a cute picture of chickens – first thing Saturday morning. Make sure you join us on Social media so you don’t miss an announcement!

 

Garden Guides

We publish garden guides in-store throughout most of the year that tell you what to grow when, as well as what maintenance and feeding need to be done to maintain your lawn, landscape, and gardens.  They are based on information from UF/IFAS and county extension offices for the areas we serve as well as the USDA Agricultural Zone (which we serve areas considered 9a, 9b, 10a). Our next one comes out in Spring, but we still have copies available for previous months.  They’re great to have for your garden notebook to refer to when you’re planning your garden. They are a free resource, ask for them when you come in.

 

Free Community Seed Swaps

We took a break for the Winter, but the free Community Seed Swaps will be back, starting in February.  We started doing these in August of 2018, and the community really responded! Bring something to trade – seeds, cuttings, seedlings, potted plants – whatever grows! – and leave with new goodies that you trade with other gardeners.  We hold it on a Saturday morning from 8:30am – 10:30am once a month. Keep a lookout for flyers in the store, online social media messages, and join our Facebook group for the swappers so that we can all talk to each other! More information about how a seed swap works is here:  https://shellsfeed.com/monthly-community-seed-swap/ They are a great place to meet with your friends and neighbors who garden, you can get advice, swap stories, and have coffee and treats too.

 

Shell’s Workshop Series

Also in August, we started offering workshops at the store for various things.  I want to bring you great content that you’ll be interested in, and engage with.  Our most successful class was the How To Plant an Earthbox class, and it was wonderful.  We plan on doing another one in February, so don’t miss that! Stay tuned for dates. Everyone had a fabulous time – our teacher, Susan, is a real hoot!  More details to come soon for the Spring 2019 class, and other classes to come.

The Learning Center

I created this area on our website quite awhile ago, and it’s constantly “under construction” because really, when do we ever stop learning? There’s some useful stuff in here, so check it out!  The Learning Center

 

 

Buy Online, Pick Up In Store

We are working to add all of our inventory to our online store so that you can order and have it waiting for you to pick up.  Currently our selection in the webstore is limited, but by the end of January my goal is to have all inventory appear there, along with an upgrade to our webstore payment system.  Initially, all products will only be available as a “buy online pickup in store” option, which can be super helpful – you can place an order on your lunch break and swing by on your way home to pick up!

I’ll be posting a bit about my adventures here on the blog throughout the year, so I’ll update you as progress happens with that.  In the meantime, tell me what you’re looking for from us in terms of learning opportunities, workshops, etc., that we can do for you!  I’m listening.

Thanks, and Happy New Year to all of you!  We are entering our 58th year serving Tampa, and we couldn’t have made it this far without you!

Sincerely,

Marissa

 

 

 

 

Marissa – Writer for Shell's Feed & Garden Supply

I'm an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child. 
The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me.  The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, "If you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener." Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they're delicious!)  Thanks for reading!
Special thank you to Abby's Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell's Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.

 

2018: A Year In Review

2018: A Year In Review
By Marissa

It’s the end of the year (can you believe it?), and we’re looking back at the content we shared with you as well as some fun times we had!

We introduced several new things in the store this year, including Shell’s Workshops and the Monthly Community Seed Swap!  

Shell’s Workshops began in August of this year, and what fun we had trying different things with you.  Some were successful, some were not, and one was cancelled due to lack of participation (but that’s ok!).  I love to learn what our community of pet and gardening lovers will respond to and what is largely ignored – it helps me bring the very best programming to you!

Our most popular workshop by far was How To Plant An Earthbox, taught by the stellar Susan Roghair (pictured, to the right).  She shared all of her many tips and tricks, and her successes and failures so that attendees could go home and get started right away.  We had so much fun, we’re going to do it again this coming Spring! Several of you mentioned to me that you were sad you missed it, so stay tuned for announcements for the next one!

Other workshops we had include Plant a Succulent For a Teacher, and a Book Signing event for local author Kenny Coogan for his new book, 99 ½ Homesteading Poems, a cute and funny book about the joys and challenges of Homestead farming, complete with recipes!  You can still pick up that book here.

We will start the Shell’s Workshop series again in February 2019.

The Monthly Community Seed Swap, also begun in August of this year, has also been quite successful, allowing gardeners in the community a FREE source for new plants and seeds from other garden enthusiasts in the community.  All you have to do is bring seeds or plants to trade and you can go home with new goodies!

We will start the Seed Swaps again monthly in February 2019, and I’ll let you know when right here in the newsletter, also on our Facebook page/events calendar.  

If you haven’t Liked us on Facebook yet, please do! We promise, we like you too.

Online Shenanigans

Speaking of liking us on Facebook, since I started reaching out to you through the various online and social media outlets, our readership and our online presence has grown. It has grown faster than ever in 2018, where we’ve reached nearly 800 likes in the Facebook community and over 1,000 newsletter subscribers (if you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter yet, there’s a spot at the top of this blog entry to do so! Get to it!). Whenever you see something you love on our feed, please share it with your friends and family – we want to expand our reach and bring you more great content and activities!

We also started a private Facebook group for the Monthly Community Seed Swap, which is just in its infancy right now.  It is a place for Swappers to go and ask other swappers about the items they picked up at the last swap, trade ideas, maybe list what they’re bringing to the next one, arranging private swaps, and otherwise networking with each other. It’s so wonderful to see people come together.

Funny Animal Pics to Share

Have you seen the Holiday Dressed-up Animals series I’ve done for you on our social media feeds this month?  How about for different holidays over the past year? For Christmas I decided that the world can’t get enough reindeer antler-wearing parakeets and elf-costumed guinea pigs, along with many others, so I posted a long series to entertain you.  Those are running through Christmas Day, so if you haven’t joined the fun, go check out our profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and even LinkedIn. Please share them with your friends and family!

I’m having way too much fun with this. Oh wait, there’s no such thing as too much fun!

During Thanksgiving I challenged you to #21DaysOfGratitude – and for 21 Days we listed as many reasons that we are thankful for our business, our community, and for all of you, our customers.  

I challenge you now to find something you are thankful for, every day, and make an effort to let someone know that you are grateful for them. Living a life of gratitude may just be the best gift we can give to anyone, including ourselves.

I would like to know – what content and workshops would you like to see from us in 2019?  

Send me an email with your suggestions and/or questions! marissa@shellsfeed.com

Charity Work

This year, in November for Veterans Day, and over the holidays too, we chose to support Valor Service Dogs, a local Tampa charity that purchases, houses, feeds, trains, & provides Veterinary care to Golden Retrievers destined for becoming a furever Companion to a Veteran in need.  

These ability-trained and/or emotional support-trained service dogs inspire a working partnership with their Veteran, often saving the lives of those who suffer (and often suffer alone) during their recovery from the ravages of war and the traumas of their service.  It takes over $18,000 to provide a service dog to a Veteran in need, and Valor Service Dogs provides all of this this free of charge to the Veterans registered for their program.

We are taking donations through the end of December, please consider donating to this wonderful organization helping our local Veterans in the Tampa Bay area.

Learn their story (it’s inspiring!): valorservicedogs.org

We are grateful – for YOU

Thank you for another wonderful year!  As we move into what will be our 58th year in Tampa, we want you to know that we appreciate you.  Your business and support through the years is why we do what we do. If you like what we do here, and the service we provide, the best way to say a quick “thanks” to us is to tell all your friends and family, and bring them by to see us.  

Also, bring the kids! They’re the future of backyard farming and gardening, and future customers of ours! Besides, the kiddos LOVE to see the baby chickens and rabbits…and we know you love to take pictures of them playing with the animals too.

In the next newsletter we’ll look forward to 2019 and give a small preview of what’s coming for the next growing season.  See you back here in a couple of weeks!

Thank you,

Marissa

 

Marissa – Writer for Shell's Feed & Garden Supply

I'm an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child. 
The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me.  The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, "If you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener." Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they're delicious!)  Thanks for reading!
Special thank you to Abby's Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell's Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.

 

Holiday Gifts for your Favorite Gardener

Holiday Gifts For Your Favorite Gardener
By Marissa

When you think of buying gifts for your children, family, and friends, Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply may not be the very first store you think to look. I’d really like to change that.  Supporting local businesses is something that is very important to building a community – building community being one my primary missions for the store – because supporting local business keeps your money local, and supports local families too, like our awesome employees.

I’ll give you a quick list of items you can purchase here that any gardener would love to receive. I hope this article will give you ideas for a few things that would make great gifts this holiday season which you can pick up right here at our local family-owned store.

Holiday Gift Idea #1: Earthbox

This is my “go big” garden gift idea – an Earthbox kit.  It comes with the planter box, the sub-irrigation pieces (perforated divider, watering tube), fertilizer, plastic weed covers, wheels, and instructions. At about $45, it’s really an amazing self-contained growing system, allowing you to grow fantastic veggies with very little maintenance.  The box itself lasts for MANY years – in fact, Mr. Shell’s Earthboxes are well over 25 years old and are STILL functioning just fine – no cracks, no bleaching from the sun.

The Earthbox was invented by a man in the Tampa Bay area – Bradenton, to be exact – Mr. Whisenant.  He passed away just this past February (2018), and was the man who revolutionized container gardening with his great growing invention. We miss him and his knowledge. But he lives on every season we plant our Earthboxes.  We have a class on how to plant them coming up in the Spring – stay tuned for that, and make sure your favorite gardener is aware of it so they can sign up!

Holiday Gift Idea #2: Garden Tools

Did you get a peek in your favorite gardener’s shed and find that some of their tools are so rusted you’re afraid they’re about to fall apart?  Did the wooden handle on their favorite hoe have a crack down the center and is being held together with duct tape? Did a neighbor borrow their hand trowel and they never got it back?

You can be the hero of Christmas by getting them a brand new hoe, rake, shovel, trowel, watering can, Wondergrip gloves, or any of the other tools we carry in the store.

Good tools make the labor of growing a garden just a little bit easier, and they’ll be thinking of you, and thanking you, the next time it’s time to do some garden chores.

Holiday Gift Idea #3: Seeds

I don’t know about you, but I could spend hours in the seed section of our store dreaming of what I want to plant the very next chance I get.  Since here in Florida you could really start seeds in a protected area (in trays) in late January, giving Seeds for Christmas for Spring Planting really isn’t a bad idea! You could get a little basket and make a cute little seed display in it with a bow, or use the packets as stocking stuffers.

We have Ferry Morse and Livingston Organic seeds, as well as a great company out of New Mexico called Sandia Seeds.  Sandia has a lot of different kinds of seeds, but their speciality is peppers – from the very hottest to the mildest sweet pepper.  Did you know that New Mexico has a University that specializes in Hot Peppers? The famous Hatch pepper comes from there. Finally, we have bulk seeds as well in lots of varieties of common farming crops that have a great germination rate for a fantastic price.

Holiday Gift Idea #4: FoxFarm Products

Does your favorite gardener really have an amazing talent for growing their own food, flowers, and pretty much whatever they want? Is their thumb blindingly green already? The experienced gardener is sure to appreciate a selection of FoxFarm products.  Their selection of plant foods and soils contain important microbial and minor element profiles that really help plants look stunning and promotes optimum growth and production of fruits and flowers.

FoxFarm was born from seeing a need in the garden industry for nutrient-rich additives that augment growth through interactions between good healthy soil, organic materials, and natural ways of getting the best out of your plants. There are so many soils and dry and liquid fertilizers to choose from, there is certainly something that would put a smile on your favorite gardener’s face.

Holiday Gift Idea #5: Shell’s Gift Certificates

Did you know we offer Gift Certificates? Well of course we do! If you’ve looked around, and you’re just not sure what to get as a gift, then don’t fret – we’ve got you covered!

Let them choose their own gift at our store when you give them a gift certificate to Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply! We can make it for any amount.

Also, we have more than just gardening supplies, we also have pet food & supplies, chicken & farming supplies, and the best prices and variety of wild & tame bird food & supplies in Tampa.

Our Gift Certificates make a great stocking stuffer!

I hope this quick Gift Guide helps you make some decisions about gifts for your favorite gardener.

We really appreciate your support and business over nearly six decades, and being a part of the Tampa Bay community is something we treasure.

Sincerely,

Marissa

 

Marissa – Writer for Shell's Feed & Garden Supply

I'm an over-educated, passionate, gardening and pet enthusiast, and I have found the perfect job! My writing is based on my studies in Biology and Health, and my experiences from gardening with my family as a child. 
The great thing about gardening is that it is a life-long learning process. The many blunders and successes of my own gardening projects over the years have been invaluable to me.  The late, great, J.C. Raulston once said, "If you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener." Learn by doing, gain knowledge from the failures, but more importantly, relish the successes, (because they're delicious!)  Thanks for reading!
Special thank you to Abby's Farms, where the photo on the left was taken. Shell's Feed & Garden Supply sponsors the chickens and chicken coops there. Visit their website here.