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

Creating Pollinator Habitats in Your Yard

It is estimated that 90% of flowering plants, and over 30% of human food crops require pollinators to reproduce, such as creating the fruits and vegetables that we eat, and creating new flowering plants in our environment.  Additionally, pollinators are an integral part of the widely diverse and complicated web of relationships between all living things on Earth.

Without them, we literally lose life on our planet.

Although bees are the first thing to come to mind on the topic of pollinators, it goes well beyond that. Bees are a large portion of the incredibly diverse group of pollinators, but they aren’t doing all of the work. Other insects, such as wasps, ants, beetles, flies, butterflies, and moths, and animals, such as hummingbirds and bats, are all part of the fragile and necessary pollination process.

Research has shown that the numbers of native and domesticated pollinator populations are declining. The wide use of pesticides and increased habitat loss, as well as new diseases, are wiping out pollinator species all over the world. They are struggling to survive, as well as struggling to pollinate all the plants that need their help to reproduce.

OK, that’s all the depressing news. Here’s the good news:

YOU can help your local pollinators. Yes, you can make a difference in all of our lives and help your community continue to grow and thrive. It’s not only possible to help your local pollinators, but it can be easier than you think and you’ll reap the rewards of helping struggling beneficial insects while boosting the health of your garden.

Here’s a few tips:

Create a native plant garden

Here in Tampa we are part of an area known as the Outer Coastal Plain, which spreads along the East Coast of the US from Delaware south through parts of the Carolinas, Georgia, Louisiana, and most of Florida.  No matter what area of the world you live in, your local pollinators rely on native plants to eat and reproduce. In many cases, pollinators don’t even recognize exotic plants and won’t be drawn to them for nectar and pollen! Some examples of our favorite plants native to our area include:

Trees & Shrubs:

Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Common Wax Myrtle (Marella cerifera)

Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana)

Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor)

Azaleas (Rhododendron alabamese, Rhododendron atlanticum, & Rhododendron austrinum)

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

Perennials:

Red Milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata)

Scarlet Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

Showy Aster (Eurybia spectabalis)

Blue Lobelia (Lobelia elongata)

Narrowleaf & Savanna Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius & Helianthis heterophyllus)

Creeping Blueberry (Vaccinium crassifolium)

Having native plants to help the pollinators eat, shelter, and reproduce will help ensure that they are available to pollinate your garden and keep local biodiversity thriving. You’ll host a home for many important pollinators, and you’ll enjoy the bonus of a low-maintenance garden full of local natural beauty, too.

Plant Pollinator-friendly No Pesticide Zones

Many garden chemicals kill beneficial insects along with the pests you are targeting. Having areas where no pesticides or herbicides are used at any time helps pollinators survive. If you MUST spray your vegetables or show-garden, please only do so when most pollinators are not active, and only on days when it’s not windy to keep the spray from travelling.  Pollinator.org has some good resources on when pollinators are active in your area so that you can be sure, including info for Pollinator Week from June 18-25, 2018. It’s important to remember that the chemicals linger and can still kill bees and other beneficial insects. Hand-picking and other pest remedies are much safer for your pollinators.

I recommend planting an area of the yard that receives no clipping, mowing, sprays, herbicides or any other disturbance. Once planted, allow this area to flower, reseed itself, and grow unhindered (you can trim the edges of the area, as some plants spread). Including plants listed above, as well as other pollinator-friendly plants listed below, will go a long way to ensuring the survival of pollinators in your area. This little patch will be a tiny slice of paradise for your local pollinators, and the native plants that take over are a great reminder of some of the amazing natural beauty we have around this area!

Here’s some garden pollinator-friendly plants to consider:

Catnip                                                                          Sunflowers

Iris                                                                                Purple tansy

Lavender                                                                     Coreopsis

Roses                                                                            Goldenrod

Salvia                                                                          Penstemon

Provide Water and Shelter in your Pollinator Garden

We all need shelter and water, and your local Pollinators are no exception.  In fact, The Pollinator Partnership has created a contest called The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge that you can enter and help your pollinators thrive while having a lot of fun.

Here are a few ideas to keep in your pollinator garden area:

  • Safe areas of bare ground – Andrenid bees, Sweat bees, Digger bees, Plasterer bees, Squash bees, some Leaf-cutter bees, and Gourd bees all like undisturbed, bare soil areas for nesting and resting. This can be provided in areas where not much grows anyway, or an area that is cleared WITHOUT CHEMICALS for this purpose.
  • Upside-down old planting pot habitats – Bumble bees and wasps are attracted to areas that have space, darkness, and one opening to enter and exit. Once it’s there, don’t disturb it.
  • Tunnels and human-made cavities for shelter – Bumble bees, Beetles, some Leaf-cutter bees, and Mason bees like this kind of cover.
  • Habitats of stacks of soft dead wood, like poplar, cottonwood, willow – frequented by Large Carpenter bees, they make it into a home by carving the wood. Beetles also make tunnels in wood that Leaf-cutter bees will take over after the beetle emerges.
  • Pithy stems for habitats, like Rose or Blackberry Canes and bamboo – small Carpenter bees, Leaf-cutter bees, Mason bees, and Yellow-faced bees prefer these small tunnel-like structures.
  • Stacks of sticks & logs for shelter – many bees, as well as native wasps and other beneficial insects, use this kind of terrain as shelter and homes.
  • Shallow watering pools – using a shallow terra cotta, concrete, or plastic tray (like one for catching water under potted plants), place rocks with flat smooth sides in the tray and then fill with water, leaving the top of the rock surfaces exposed. Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators will land on the rocks to rest and sip water. Make sure to place it in or near your pollinator garden so that they have everything they need in a close area. Because of mosquitoes, the trays will have to be cleaned out often, but supporting our pollinators by providing easy water sources is worth the 60 seconds of extra maintenance work.

If you would like more information about how to help your local pollinators, check out this document from The Pollinator Partnership and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign for our region.

Other great resources include:

http://fws.gov/pollinators

www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers

http://nappc.org

Let us see what you’re doing for our local Tampa pollinator population by commenting below or tagging us on Facebook (go Like our Facebook page and then use the “@ShellsFeed” in your post to tag us).

Thank you for reading!

Marissa

“Want to get more updates on what’s new at Shell’s Feed? Like us on Facebook!

 

 

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.

 

Repelling Mosquitoes, Naturally

Repelling Mosquitoes, Naturally

By Marissa

There is a lot of information out there about repelling mosquitoes and other biting flies. Commercially, using a low concentration of DEET is the widely-accepted standard. But there are also common concerns about the dangers of this chemical and the petroleum-based delivery system often found tagging along with it.

What about some natural ways to remedy the mosquito situation? I’ve got a list right here:

Remove Standing Water

The best way to deter mosquitoes is to prevent them from living and increasing their numbers around your home! They don’t like to travel very far, so making your home less than inviting for them will keep their numbers down. Removing standing water is a great way to drastically change how many of these annoying biters you deal with this summer.

Mosquitoes are crafty creatures, and their larvae can survive in about 1 Tablespoon of water. While they need this water to be able to reproduce, they are very creative about finding spots to lay their eggs and grow. This means that you have to be consistently diligent about removing standing water from your environment.

Dishes under plants need to be cleaned out every other day. That harvest bucket you left out overnight accidentally and then it rained? Yep, empty it and put it away. Birdbath? Put a small pump to keep the water moving (birds like this too), or clean it out every other day. Old tires, old boats, junk piles…get rid of them if you can.

If you have a decorative pond, that’s cool. Try using a mosquito dunk (we have them!). Or, get some koi or goldfish, for a pretty backyard companion that loves to eat larvae. Keeping the surface of the water moving helps keep mosquitoes at bay as well, so maybe put a small floating fountain or pump in the pond, if it’s big enough.

Use Cedar Oil Spray

I can’t stress enough how well Cedar Oil works for ridding your landscape of mosquitoes. The stuff is amazing! Derived from Thuja-variety cedar trees, spray it on, allow it to dry, and enjoy a mosquito/no-see-um free yard. We sell ours in a bottle that has a hose-attachment point, making it easy to attach and spray. Reapply as needed.

Because of the concentration of the Cedar Oil (ours is 17%), do not apply it directly to the skin. It’s strong enough to irritate your skin, and we don’t want that. There’s other stuff better designed to use on your skin if you need.

Plant a Mosquito-Fighting Patio Planter

Much of our knowledge of the effects of plants on biting flies comes from traditions of herbalists and backwoods practice. It’s sadly a dying artform at this point in our history, but there is lots that we can still learn and use at home.

Many believe now that everything has to be proven by science, and being a biologist, I totally understand where they’re coming from. However, I also respect the traditions of the past and like to experiment with them until I find the ones that work for me. Different people have subtle differences in their chemical makeup, so different things work for different people (like the same perfume smells different on different people). Feel free to experiment to find something that works for you and your home that you are comfortable using and helps ensure a more comfortably mosquito-free experience for you.

To utilize some popular mosquito-repelling plants, you’ll want a good-sized (LARGE) planter for your patio to have room for a variety of pest-control plants within easy reach. Here’s a fun plant-o-gram for you:

Outer Ring:
– Light Green: Marigolds – natural source of pyrethrum, found in insecticide (when extracted and concentrated) and known to many companion planting gardeners as a natural pest deterrent.
– Pink: Floss Flower – mosquitoes don’t like the scent, but butterflies & hummingbirds do!
– Light Orange: Lemon-scented Geranium (Pelargonium crispum) – many say that lemon-scented plants deter biting flies (lemon verbena, lemon thyme also).
– Dark Purple: PennyRoyal – used historically in indoor and outdoor containers (please keep it in a container, it is INVASIVE) and flower arrangements to keep flies and mosquitoes at bay.
– Teal: Catmint (Nepeta faassenii) – put a handful of leaves into a pot and cover with water (about a cup or cup and a half), boil until leaves are dark, then allow to cool, place whole concoction into a sprayer bottle and mist yourself and clothing when needed to keep mosquitoes away.
– Blue: Catnip (Nepeta cateria) – contains nepetalactone – one study showed that catnip was effective at low concentrations at repelling mosquitoes (the study results are debated, and no further work was done on the topic). If you have a cat, you might want to swap out the catnip for something else if you don’t want your cat rummaging around in the container!

Marigolds, Floss Flower, Lemon Verbena, Catmint
Catnip, Lavandin (Lavender), Sage, Rosemary, Basil

Inner Ring:
– Purple: Lavender – Plant a Lavandin variety, which has a higher concentration of camphor (used most often by soap makers!)
– Grey: Sage – burn it to keep away pests (great for campfires or fire pits)
– Orange: Rosemary – you can also burn Rosemary to keep away pests
– Dark Green: Basil – oil is toxic to mosquitoes, it’s easy to crush a leaf and rub on exposed skin – plus inhaling the scent of basil gives you a feeling of being wide awake!

You can, of course, plant these all individually and spread them around your patio as well! They do give nice pops of color…and with the Catnip and Catmint, kitties will be grateful too!

Watch Out For Snake Oil Salesmen…

Warning, controversial content alert! Here it is: Citronella is NOT a geranium. (Whaaaaaat?)

The “citronella plant” geranium (sold in box stores) is Pelargonium citrosum. It smells a little bit like Citronella, and even has some of the same phytochemicals, but it is NOT where Citronella Oil comes from. And I see mosquitoes landing on the leaves all the time, unfazed.

Actual Citronella Oil comes from a variety of lemongrass Cymbopogon nardus (also known as nard grass or mana grass) that grows up to 6 feet tall. The oil is released when you brush up against the plant, or crush a leaf blade.

Most products that say they contain citronella do not have enough of the oil to make a difference – so honestly, don’t waste your money if you are buying them for their repelling purposes. The exception would be pure essential oil extracts of Citronella used in essential-oil based bug repellents, which I personally find quite effective.

Actual citronella is too big for a planter like this – that’s why it’s not included in the plantogram!! Plant it in the ground, or in its own large container as a statement piece. Be careful, though, the oil from crushed blades of the citronella is pretty potent and can be irritating to sensitive skin.

Avoiding the Buzzzzzzzz…

So, these are my tips for keeping mosquitoes at bay during your outside time. Keep in mind that most of the time, to get the benefits of a plant’s repelling power, you have to crush a leaf or two (or burn, in the case of sage and rosemary) so that the oils are exposed. So experiment, and see what happens, taking precautions with sensitive skin of course.

Hope it helps! Let me know your mosquito solutions in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Thanks,
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.

 

How Your Lawn Can Survive Florida Heat

How Your Lawn Can Survive Florida Heat
By Marissa

We are getting close to summertime here in Florida and it is HOT outside.  When you are trying to keep your lawn green, the rising temperatures can make it harder and harder to keep that lush look and feel.

We feel your pain. You and your lawn can get through the summer together! We have some good practices and products that we know can help you keep your lawn happy and vibrant during the hot days to come!
Here’s a few tips to help you along.

Tip #1: Regular Watering

Healthy plants need the right resources to grow! For your lawn, the right moisture and nutrients are essential to keep things green and growing. Your lawn will adjust to pretty much any amount of water or schedule you set for it, but the key is you have to be consistent.  Whether you’ve got an automatic system, hand water, or anything in between, consistency is more important than anything. While you’re planning to give your lawn ample moisture during the hot season, still keep in mind any local watering restrictions your area might have!

If you’re watering and you still have brown spots, sometimes the problem is that soil isn’t holding enough moisture.  We have a solution for that – it’s called Hydretain!  Available in a liquid that you apply with a sprayer (which we also have if you need one), Hydretain contains helpful, safe compounds that allow your grass and landscape retain water for longer.

All the effort to water your lawn actually gets the moisture where it needs to be.  Your grass stays green and you save water and time, too! Apply when needed, and those patches that are starting to look a little dry (despite watering regularly) will be rescued, easy peasy. Here’s a diagram of how Hydretain works.

Tip #2: Nutrition

Starving grass won’t grow.  If it has nothing to fuel it, it’ll just sit there, and eventually shrivel up, and turn brown.  It sounds bad, but for a little while after the blades turn brown, the roots are still alive. There’s still some hope for sad, brown grass, as it’s just waiting for the right time to send up new shoots. But you can avoid the brown, dead grass situation altogether by making sure that you are giving your lawn what it needs to grow! Your grass will need consistent watering, but also the nutrients to keep growing.  We have a couple favorite products that are a great solution for any lawn:

Shell’s 16-0-8* Lawn Fertilizer – The great thing here is, no phosphorus. The 16% nitrogen is 50% available now, 50% slow release, for a season-long feeding that doesn’t burn your grass.  The potassium is in an active form that is ready to be utilized, and we have also added minor elements to ensure the health and vitality of your grass by supporting all of its biochemical process.  You won’t be sorry you put this on your lawn this spring! It provides all the basics for healthy lawns. 

*For City of Tampa and Pinellas County residents, your local governments have a yearly ban on fertilizers containing Nitrogen and Phosphorus spanning June 1 – September 30.  Therefore you would need to substitute a lawn fertilizer that has a rating of 0-0-X where X is Potash/Potassium levels.  In City of Tampa, you ARE allowed to use Organic fertilizer on your lawn, such as Shell’s Organic 3-3-3 which we highly recommend.  In Pinellas County, you are not allowed to use anything with Nitrogen or Phosphorus.  If you have further questions, please contact us at Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply and we’ll be happy to help you.

Milorganite – Milorganite is an organic fertilizer that is high in iron, micro- and macro-nutrients, and other organic matter. This product is actually made from microbes that have processed waste water in Milwaukee, WI. After they have done their job, they are kiln-dried and packaged into fertilizer!!  Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen is how it got its name.  Talk about Made in the USA!!  It will make grass turn very green when applied properly, and is excellent for shoring up a slightly-fading lawn during hot times.  It has to be watered in, of course. Rake it in a little bit, and if you can, try to apply it before you know it’s going to rain. A word of caution: Milorganite can have a bit of an odor. This is how Milorganite works:

We’ve heard that you can apply more than it recommends on the package, either more volume or more often.  We advise that you start slowly and observe for the results to experiment and see how your lawn responds. #ProTip: When experimenting with caring for your lawn, take pictures of the same areas of your lawn week to week and compare them.  If you’re serious about the DIY Lawn game, do your homework!

Tip #3: Adjust Your Mower Deck Height

During the hottest part of the year, (which for us is about half the year) raise your mower’s deck height to the maximum height.  Leaving your grass long will shade the roots and soil from the sun, which helps keep water from evaporating as quickly as it does when grass is short.

Leaving your cut grass on the ground (distributing out clumps, of course) is a great way to mulch your yard. It’ll give your lawn’s soil some shade while providing nutrients as the clippings decompose.  Some mowers have a feature called “mulching” that cut the grass into finer pieces specifically for this purpose.

Another #ProTip: Keep your blades sharp! This keeps your mower operating smoothly, and keeps your grass even healthier.

Having to mow your grass more often is a side-effect of a higher deck height, but this will help you avoid the grass clumps that are created when the grass gets too long. Plus, don’t we all need a regular exercise regimen and some sunshine? Of course we do.

Bonus Tip: Know Your Grass

Only you know your grass. Parts of your lawn that are on an incline may become drier than flat areas because gravity pulls the water down hill too fast for it to soak into the soil. Or maybe you have an area where water pools and your ground is too wet and your grass is overtaken by weeds that are water-friendly.  It’s good to know where your lawn pitfalls are so you can start to strategize solutions.

Feeding your lawn the right nutrients starts with knowing what it needs! We’ve suggested some great one-size-fits-all products, but you can really step up your lawn care once you know what type of grass you have. Fitting your routine to what your specific lawn needs will make it easier to have that lush, cool-under-the-foot feeling, even during hot summers.

So, watch your lawn through the seasons and see how it acts. Have you seen something unusual lately? Are there dry patches appearing? Does it have areas that are wet, slimy and smell bad? It is yellow, or spotted, or uprooted?  You might need some other kinds of intervention. Whatever you’re facing, we have a solution. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff can help. Bring us a sample, or a picture. We’re happy to take a look.

Thanks for reading!
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.

 

4 Steps to Eliminate Fleas For Good

4 Steps for Eliminating Fleas For Good

By Marissa

You’ve seen ads for flea products all over the place, I’m sure. Most of them are just for your pets. The most important aspect of flea control is probably keeping your fuzzy friend comfortable and healthy.

As much as I hate bearing bad news, I think it’s important that you know: it’s not just your pet that needs to keep flea-free. Flea problems can happen seemingly overnight in your home and in your yard as well. It’s enough of a problem that you need a strategy to avoid it.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Here’s the 4 steps to eliminate fleas from your life!

Step 1: Treat Your Pet

Of course, I’m starting with the easiest step. There are many different products out there that help with fleas on your animal(s), and it’s very important that you get a product that will work well for your money.

Out of the many products out there, we find that for the sheer number of fleas that our climate can produce, you’ll need a couple of things to handle them effectively.

  • An already flea-infested animal should be flea-dipped. We recommend Adams Flea Dip for this process. It’s been around for many years, is safe for cats and dogs, has a strong but pleasant fragrance, and is effective at taking out the majority of fleas. Make sure that there are no open sores on your pet or you’ll cause unnecessary discomfort – depending on the severity you may need to see a veterinarian. We have one that comes to the store every 2 weeks (see our Event calendar on Facebook here).
  • If you see one or two fleas on your pet or noticed one jumped on you when you were getting snuggles, a topical “on-the-skin” flea medication should be very effective. These are applied behind the head and between the shoulder blades, usually monthly, and are quite reasonably priced for what they do. Many offer additional protections from ticks, mosquitoes, and biting flies as well. We recommend Advantage or Advantix for over-the-counter control. Your veterinarian may have a prescription topical option for you as well.
  • Your pet doesn’t have fleas, but likes to go outside a lot, or is visiting places where other pets might have fleas. Flea prevention is the BEST way to avoid having an issue at all. You can go with the over-the-counter topicals mentioned above, OR you can get a prescription from your veterinarian for an edible flea prevention. Oral medications like Trifexis for dogs work well, and have the additional benefit of protecting your pet from heartworms. Your veterinarian can guide you further on what the best options for your pet are from a prescription standpoint.

Step 2: Treat Your Home

Making sure that your home is flea-free is also important. Fleas can hide anywhere in a house, and eggs can lay dormant for a year or more waiting for the right conditions. Treating your home includes carpet, furniture, mattresses, clothing, curtains, and more. If your pet has been infested with fleas, it’s possible that your home has them as well. Here’s how to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep fleas from taking over in your home.

  • Apply a flea dust in your carpet, furniture upholstery (not leather), mattresses, etc. We recommend Adams Carpet Dust. Following package instructions, leave the dust for a period of time and then vacuum it up. You may need to vacuum twice. Make sure you get all the cracks and crevices, especially on furniture!
  • If your home still has fleas after this, you may need to do a flea fogger. This is a chemical that permeates the air and kills pretty much all bugs in the home. You have to vacate the house for a certain amount of time, so make arrangements and take care of it. You can do it! We recommend Enforcer Flea Fogger. I highly recommend you ask an associate the best usage of this product, and follow the package instructions as well – usually you need one can per major open area of the house. I also recommend washing all dishes you use after a fogging, all bedding, and all clothing too. Better safe than sorry!
  • Remove beds/blanket/towels or other items that your pet has used for bedding while flea-infested and either wash them in hot water with Borax, or discard them outside the home in a closed trash can.
  • Pick up any clutter from your home’s soft surfaces (carpeted floors, sofas, recliners) and remove bedding. Any clothing and bedding that could have come in contact with the dog should be washed on the warmest setting possible. Use Borax as directed on the package in your laundry to help kill fleas and dislodge flea eggs. Use a high temperature drying setting as well if you can.
  • Wipe down all hard surfaces thoroughly. Include everything from counters, cabinets, tubs, showers, etc, cleaning the sponge/rag frequently in hot water with cleaning solution (please use gloves!). Wipe down walls and baseboards with a damp, hot towel, rinsing and wringing it out frequently. Scrub floors with a strong cleaning solution like bleach or Pine-Sol and rinse well, or use a steam mop to hot-clean them.

Step 3: Treat Your Yard

Your pet must have gotten fleas from somewhere. If your yard is where they spend most of their time, these hungry fleas are most likely hanging out in your yard. To keep the fleas from traveling back inside, you have to treat your yard too!

Step 4: BE CONSISTENT

This is almost more important than any other step. Because of where we live, this warm weather is an absolute paradise for fleas and other pests. They grow and thrive here, and it’s all we can do to keep them from invading where we live. Consistency means that you have to make and keep a schedule of treatment for your pet, your home, and your yard. Once you have it set, it’s not hard to add it to the chores that we all have to do.

Keeping fleas off of your pet, and out of your home and yard, means that these fleas will not be feeding on you and your loved ones! I hope this article helps you get a handle on any flea issues you might have. Of course if you have questions, stop in and ask our staff, we’re happy to help.

  • For dirt areas and landscapes, we recommend Hi-Yield’s Garden, Pet and Livestock Dust. This is an effective overall yard treatment that can be applied to control fleas, ticks, and more.
  • If you prefer a spray, we can also recommend Shell’s Natural Cedar Oil. It is all natural and made from cedar, which is well known for its bug repelling capabilities. Applying the oil to your yard also controls fleas, biting flies, and mosquitoes too! And it has a great scent too. Best of all, cedar oil is safe for pollinators when used as directed, and also safe for your pets!

Additional Information

Here’s some articles I’ve written that are available on our website about pests:
Flea Article – has more information about fleas themselves, what we sell to treat for them, and additional helpful tips on flea control in your environment!
Grasshopper treatment FAQ/Nolo Bait™– this is for a different kind of pest, large grasshoppers that eat your prized landscape and garden plants can be treated organically, safe for children, pets, and friendly pollinators too.

 

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.

 

Top 5 Pro-Tips to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Florida

Top 5 Pro-Tips for Growing Sweet Potatoes in Florida
By Marissa

Sweet potatoes are an amazing vegetable. You get the best of both worlds from them. They not only grow sweet, nutritious tubers under the ground, but also have beautiful foliage (and flowers!) above the ground. They’re also a great choice for our Florida summers.

You can grow them starting in mid-Spring and the vines will flourish during the heat of Summer while growing wonderful treats underground to harvest in the Fall and early Winter. Here’s our Top 5 Pro-Tips for growing Sweet Potatoes here in Florida.

Pro-Tip #1: Work the soil loose down deep, then build a “mound” about 12” high.

Soil prep is best done in advance, so that when the slips are brought to the garden they are ready to pop right into the ground. Work the soil loose down deep so the sweet potato tubers grow long and smooth. I always recommend working Shell’s Organic 3-3-3 into the mound as you work because it helps create a natural, bioavailable nutrient source for hungry plants.

You’ll want to sink the “slip” down far into the mound, but not so far that the bud (the vine stem) is covered by dirt. This is usually about 6”. Poke a hole in the mound, pour a little water into the hole, place the slip, then firm up the soil around it.

Pro-Tip #2: Plant them as soon as you receive them.

It’s important that when you pick them up from the store you plant them as soon as possible. While sweet potato slips are pretty tough little things, they do need to quickly get to growing like they were born to do. You’ll get the best results planting right away, but even if they sit around and become slimy and stinky, they will STILL do fine if you get them in the ground. Delaying planting means it will just take them a little longer to get going.

For some reason sweet potatoes intuitively know the weather. They will grow best when they are set in the ground in the late afternoon on a sunny day that is NOT windy. If it is windy, you’re better off waiting until the next afternoon. Don’t ask me how they know. They just do.

Pro-Tip #3: Keep weeds & grass cleared from the rows/beds until the vines cover the ground.

Young sweet potatoes are using every ounce of energy to put up leaves that will generate more energy through photosynthesis. To keep them as nourished as possible, you’ll need to keep the area free of any other competition that would steal the precious nutrients they need. Ideal spacing is 10-18” between each slip as you plant.

Once the vines are established, they are naturally multipurpose! They act as a natural mulch, shade the ground, and choke out the competition, while harboring moisture the plants need to grow strong and healthy. Many folks find it helpful to mulch the 3’ space between rows/beds to help the leaves in their efforts to keep weeds from encroaching on the grow mounds.

Pro-Tip #4: Don’t overwater or damage the vines

Sweet potatoes don’t require a ton of water. They only need about 1” of water once a week if it hasn’t rained. In fact, they do their best work in soil that isn’t heavy with water. Lots of water can even encourage fungus, which any Florida gardener know is an enormous problem for any garden plants.

Try to avoid disturbing the vines as much as you can. They easily damage (even a strong wind can hurt them!) and that can be an invitation for pests and disease to enter the plant and wreak havoc. The only time to fuss with the vines is to lift the vine “elbows” out of the soil. Those elbows, if left in the soil, will set new plants, which will set new tubers.

This will take nutrients and effort away from the main tubers you are growing back at the original planting hole, making those smaller. They won’t hurt your plant but could affect the tasty harvest you’re hoping to grow!

Pro-Tip #5: Let harvested sweet potatoes dry to thicken their skin

Once you’ve harvested your sweet potatoes they will need to dry in a well-ventilated and shaded area to grow a thick skin. The process takes up to 10 days. This skin is essential for storing your sweet potatoes for any length of time.

Most of us here in Florida don’t have root cellars so we usually store them in a cool dark spot. Remember to keep them away from onions and garlic which can make sweet potatoes rot quickly! I don’t recommend storage in the refrigerator either, because any temperature below 55 degrees Fahrenheit changes the starches and sugars in the potato and degrades a lot of the nutritive value of this very tasty tuber. And after all that hard work, you don’t want to do that.

Those are the top 5 Pro-Tips I have for sweet potato growing. When you buy from us, we give you a guide that is provided to us straight from the grower. You can also find more information I’ve put together from my research on our website here.

For the crafty. there is one more fun thing you can do with sweet potato slips beyond tasty garden treats. Grow a lush beautiful vine from a bottleneck vase (or a glass soda bottle!) as a houseplant. Place a slip in the vase, add some water, and place in a sunny spot. Soon you’ll have a gorgeous decorative vine!

Growing sweet potatoes is an adventure, and we hope that you will dive in and have fun with it!
Thanks for reading,
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.

 

Easy Eating: Top Container Garden Recipes

Top Container Garden Recipes

By Marissa

Container gardens can be an amazing substitute for not having lots of property to farm. Many folks who live in apartments or those who don’t necessarily want to till the soil in their yard or build a large raised bed can still eat garden fresh food from a container garden.

All of the containers below have a few things in common:
1. They need about 8 hours a day of sunshine.
2. They will need daily watering, good drainage, and a tray reservoir underneath the container to hold extra water for the plant to drink in the heat of the day. The soil community you are building is dynamic and deeply intertwined, and water powers all of it!
3. They require LARGE containers. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers have pretty extensive root systems, and thus need more soil to keep them upright and also properly nourished.
4. The plants will require a support system to keep the climbing plants upright. Use cages for tomatoes, stakes for peppers, trellis for cucumbers.

Salsa Garden

Let’s start with one of my favorites, the Salsa Garden. In one container you can grow almost all of the ingredients you’ll need for a great salsa. In Florida, we don’t get to grow garlic because it’s too hot (I don’t know about you, but I like garlic in my salsa), and onions really grow best when planted in our Winter growing season, when the other main salsa ingredients don’t grow very well. Sad, but true. However, you could try to grow green onions for that garlicky/oniony flavor in a separate protected area and see if they’re a replacement that works for you.

As you can see in the Plant-o-gram, the tomato plant is kind of isolated on one side of the container. This is because the tomato has the largest root system, so giving it some space is important. The shade of the tomato and peppers will help the cilantro and parsley cope with the heat of the Florida summer. This will help keep it from bolting so quickly. The key will be to harvest as much of these herbs as you can before they bolt, and either dry them or find another way to store them until you use them in your salsa and other cooking.

Side note: If you decide to do a Salsa Verde garden, you’ll need 2 tomatillo plants. Eliminate the tomato and red bell pepper and replace with tomatillos so that they will pollinate properly and give you fruit.

The 3 Sisters

This plant-o-gram was begun by our ancient Native American cultures. They found that these three plants when planted together were all mutually beneficial to each other. 1) Corn supports the bean vines as they grow towards the sun; 2) beans pull nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil for use by all three sisters, and also hold the garden together as they intertwine; and 3) the squash’s leaves provide a natural mulch, shading the ground and helping to prevent weeds, and also keeping the raccoons at bay with their prickly bristles. The 3 Sisters container is the only one that doesn’t need to have any additional support structures added, and with the relationship of the three plants, they will all support each other physically and nutritionally. Give it a try!

Please Note: Your corn, in order to produce ears, will need to be hand-pollinated. Here is a great guide to hand-pollinating corn. If the pollination doesn’t occur this way, most likely you will not get any corn from your plant, but you will still have a nice corn-stalk support for your beans and a pretty plant to look at.

Salad Mix

This Salad Mix is as utilitarian as it is delicious. The sun-loving cucumbers, which would need to be grown on a hoop trellis or a teepee structure, help shade the lettuce growing underneath it (lettuce is a cool weather crop). I recommend leaf lettuces for this container, or small head lettuce like buttercrunch because larger iceberg and romaine won’t have enough room to grow in a container like this. Radishes, which produce an odor which discourages pests, are very quick to produce their tasty roots, so you can plant and harvest multiple radish crops, while the cucumbers are still flowering and producing fruit. Leaf lettuce can be harvested from the outside leaves in towards the center (crown), just don’t cut off too many leaves at once or the plant won’t be able to generate enough energy to continue growing (I leave at least the first 3 rows of leaves from the center on at all times, or leave 6 fully developed leaves total minimum). Of course, if you’re growing head lettuce, it should be harvested all at once.

Here’s a couple of additional tips:

• Containers don’t have the benefit of an entire open soil base ecosystem to grow in, so you will have to supplement the plants with more nutrients than if they were growing in the ground. You can do this with a slow-release fertilizer so you don’t have to apply as often, or if using organic methods, apply organic fertilizer at planting, when the plants start flowering, and again when they start to produce fruit. Also, a compost tea applied when watering is a great supplement to organic soil amendments placed when planting.
• Monitor your containers for pests on a constant basis, so if there is a problem you can catch it early before it spreads to the rest of the container.

Other Growing and Container Options

If where you live just doesn’t have the right conditions to grow these containers, fear not: you can easily get involved in a community garden (we have several here in Tampa!) and grow a plot there with the same plans…maybe even expand them a bit! Here are some of them for your reference – we LOVE community gardens!

Abby’s Organic Community Farm – Shell’s Feed has been a sponsor of Abby’s farm project for several years, including providing chickens and chicken supplies
Temple Terrace Community Garden – with several garden plot locations now, this community is thriving and growing (pun intended!)
Seminole Heights Community Garden – a long-standing garden in the awesome community of Seminole Heights
Tampa Heights Community Garden – a great community project
University Area Harvest Hope Center – this project is just getting started! See how you can help.
VISTA Gardens – this is a joint venture between Carrollwood residents and Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation
Sustainable Living Project – Not exactly a community garden, but this is a project in conjunction with Tampa Bay Harvest that utilizes community volunteerism to grow good fresh food for people in need. It is a great place to LEARN about gardening and sustainability while donating time and effort to a good cause.

Did I miss a local community garden? Leave a comment or message us on Facebook!
Thanks,
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.

 

Tampa’s Top 3 Edible Plants

Tampa’s Top 3 Edible Plants By Marissa

Are you wondering what edible plants you can grow easily here in Tampa? Trying to figure out what to grow to give you some kitchen inspiration when you want to create the latest popular cuisine from our area? There are many gardening options for all kinds of gardeners – here are 3 suggestions for you that might whet your appetite.

Cilantro

Used in many Latin, Thai, Indian, and Chinese dishes, cilantro is a workhorse in the kitchen. There are, of course, different kinds of cilantro, and different dishes use different parts of the plant. In general, you can grow any cilantro and use it to cook a dazzling number of ethnic foods. Cilantro is perfect for anything from basic tacos and salsa to deep-flavored Thai and Indian curries. Tampa has an enormous Latin American community and Asian communities, so fresh cilantro is in high demand. Cilantro is easy to grow, and if it is happy, it will grow quite abundantly. I recommend growing it in a large pot so it has plenty of soil, fertilizer, and sunshine. With a large container, proper drainage is essential to avoid stem rot. When it gets really hot outside, relocating your cilantro to a place where it gets shade in the afternoon will help keep the plant from going to seed (creating flowers, also called “bolting”). After the plant bolts, the flavor of the cilantro changes. To harvest from the pot, cut the lower stem and harvest the leaves and stem (both have good flavor and mince well). Only take what you need, the plant will continue to produce until it bolts later in the season. If you decide to grow a lot of cilantro in a garden bed, sow a few seeds every other week 3-4 times in the late Spring in order to extend the plant’s production before it bolts. In an indoor windowsill container garden, you can grow cilantro year round. Give it a try!

Blueberries

Blueberries are prized for their sweet flavor, dark blue color, high antioxidant and vitamin content. But did you also know they also make wonderful landscaping shrubs? Planting blueberries instead of other non-fruiting shrubs qualifies as “permaculture,” where you grow plants that sustain you as well as the space they inhabit. Blueberries are native to North America, and there are at least 8 varieties that grow wild in Florida’s woods and swamps. If you stick to berries that grow in zone 9, you don’t have to fear them becoming invasive or buying them only to discover they won’t grow in the heat. Blueberries are slow-growers and usually require 2-3 years in well-drained acidic soil to give you a small harvest. The larger harvests begin after 5 years. To produce fruit, two cultivars need to be planted, and I recommend Rabbiteye and Southern Highbush varieties. #ProTip: Prune any dead wood in the winter time. Plant in full sun to get the most fruit, though the shrubs themselves will tolerate partial shade if you simply want the shrub for decorative purposes. Some varieties of blueberries have seasonal foliage changes that make them extra colorful. Soon enough you’ll be harvesting blueberries for pies, tarts, and your morning cereal, and the birds will come to your yard in droves for a tasty treat!

Sunflowers

In the Sunshine State, planting Sunflowers seems like a no-brainer. They grow very well here, and they provide seed kernels to feed birds, squirrels, and also us! Bees and other pollinators love the enormous pollen-heads, so they help nourish these special insects that do the work of pollinating our crops. Sunflower seeds are harvested after the flower itself is spent. You will know it is spent when you see seed heads formed in the flower center. Usually, the flower itself turns brown and bends down towards the ground from the sheer weight of the seed head. You can leave the seed heads on the stalk until the plant is brown, which will give birds and other creatures time to pick a few seeds out for a snack. You can also cut them and dry them yourself by hanging them upside down in a dry, warm, well-ventilated space. Keep them up away from rodents who will be attracted to the smell. Just comb the seeds out with your fingers after they head dries and either roast them for yourself or put them in the feeder raw for the birds!

Some of our favorite varieties are Mammoth and Super Snack Mix Hybrid. Mammoth can grow up to 12’ tall, and Super Snack has large seeds with nice oily kernels inside. Planted in a bunch they make an impressive display when in full bloom. They grow so tall that you’ll need to make sure they’re not shading other plants that need sunlight too. These are easily grown from seed, and there are many varieties, sizes, shapes and colors to choose from. It’s a great first plant for kids to experience the joy of growing for themselves! These are my top 3 picks for edible plants in Tampa – between all of the herbs, fruit, and flowers available there are lots of different things to eat in the Florida gardens in all of these categories. What other herbs, fruits/veggies, and edible flowers are YOUR favorites?Thanks, 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.  

Got Hoppers? Top 5 Most Asked Questions

Got Hoppers? Top 5 Most Asked Questions
By Marissa

Grasshoppers, AKA lubbers, are relatives of the locusts described in the biblical plague that devastated all of the farm crops. Our versions are not quite a natural disaster, but these voracious insects that arrive en masse in the Spring and can destroy whole gardens in a matter of days. Sounds scary, right?

Luckily for us, we have a great weapon to treat and prevent future invasions, aside from a good sturdy boot (although, that isn’t a bad idea either). Nolo Bait™ is an amazing tool in the fight to keep our gardens non-munched by these pests without resorting to nasty chemicals. At the first sign of grasshoppers, the proper application will save your landscape and garden. You can find it supplied on our shelves.

I sat down with Dax, our General Manager, to find out what our store’s top 5 questions about Grasshoppers and Nolo Bait™ are.  Here’s what he said:

1. Is Nolo Bait™ organic or safe for organic gardens?

Yes. It is a biological insecticide that has been approved for organic gardening and is compliant with regulations.

2. Is it harmful to my pets or wildlife?

No. The active organisms in Nolo Bait™ are host-specific to only grasshoppers and Mormon crickets. If accidentally consumed by any other animal it will simply pass through their system without any harm. It will not harm humans or beneficial insects either.

3. How do I use it? And how does it work?

The minimum coverage is 1 lb per acre. It can be broadcasted in any dry spreader or applied by hand around the perimeter of the property. We recommend only putting it out only when and where you see the lubbers. Since it is a biological insecticide with bait, we don’t advise to disperse all over the place, just in the infested areas. Setting bait in unaffected spots could accidentally lure them into unwanted areas.

We recommend to use 2.5” – 3” PVC pipe about 6 inches long for bait stations. It keeps the Nolo Bait™ out of the elements and direct sunlight which causes it to break down faster. Make sure to frequently check the bait stations to make sure there is Nolo Bait™ always available for the lubbers. The more they consume, the faster it will become effective and decrease the time it takes to kill them. Multiple bait stations can be used in one area and it can be applied as much as every 3 days or weekly, or reapplied once it becomes wet.

Nolo Bait™ is made up of Nosema locustae spores, a natural parasite to grasshoppers, and a natural wheat bran bait. The spores are sprayed on the wheat bran to inoculate the “tasty treat” that appeals to grasshoppers.  As the grasshoppers consume the wheat bran they become infected with the spores.

The younger ones will die off more quickly than the older ones. As the spores build up in the older ones they become slow, lethargic, and reduce their feeding. Infected lubbers are often cannibalized by healthy ones further spreading infection thru the population. 

Also, infected females will pass the spores thru the egg laying process helping decrease population even more making it highly effective for long-term benefits.

4. How often do you apply it?

Nolo Bait™ can be applied every few days or weekly. If it gets wet you will need to reapply as well. Once wet the bait (wheat bran) will go bad. The biological spores are still okay but the bait won’t attract pests anymore.

5. How fast will it get rid of grasshoppers?

Nolo Bait™ will not provide immediate control, like a poison or non-organic insecticide would, but it will be the most effective in the long run. The small younger lubbers will die the fastest, usually within the first 2-3 weeks of application. The larger ones take more time for the spores to build in them. As they consume the spores, they will become more lethargic, reluctant to hop, and slowly stop feeding.

Infected hoppers are often cannibalized by healthy ones which further spreads the infection. Nolo Bait™ also affects lubbers’ abilities to reproduce. Continual use each Spring season will mean fewer eggs hatching and fewer surviving.  In our experience, depending on how large the infestation is it can take 2-3 seasons to completely eliminate them. BUT (and this is huge) once they are gone, they don’t come back unless they migrate in from somewhere else.  We also strongly recommend that you talk to your neighbors about getting on board with using Nolo Bait™ if they care about protecting their landscapes and gardens.

Thanks for your time and expertise, Dax!

Right about now is the time that grasshoppers should be emerging from their eggs. If you see them, come see us, and get your Nolo Bait™ right away.

To find out more about Nolo Bait™, please see our FAQ here: https://shellsfeed.com/nolo-bait-faq/
To purchase Nolo Bait™ online for pickup in store, go here: https://shellsfeed.com/shop/pre-orders/nolo-bait-pre-order/

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.

 

Our Top 5 Winter Gardening Ideas

Our Top 5 Winter Gardening Ideas
By Marissa

Many people leave the garden completely alone in the winter. Especially up north that’s just fine, because it is covered in snow! Down here in Florida, winter can be another productive and pleasant growing season, albeit a bit colder. It can also be a time to get ready for spring planting.

What can we do in the Winter? Here are a few ideas:

1. Grow Winter Crops

‌Believe it or not, there are some great garden crops that prefer cooler weather. Some of your favorite plants can barely survive the July heat anyways, so why not grow it in the winter? Many veggies will tolerate the mild freezes we get pretty well. While you might get some superficial leaf damage the plants will usually survive and continue producing when they warm up again.

Some great winter crops are:

  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Onions
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Celery
  • Greens, like turnip, mustard, collards
  • Celeriac
  • Rutabaga
  • Strawberries
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Cauliflower
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Chard
  • Broccoli and broccoli raab


For tips on helping your garden recover from a freeze,
check out this article. For more information on what to plant, when – come into the store and pick up our Shell’s Feed & Garden Supply Garden Guides. It’s a great tool for knowing what to do and when!

2. Clean, Repair, & Replace Garden Tools

‌During the winter, your urgent garden tasks slow down a bit. It’s a great time to take stock of your tools and supplies and ensure that everything you need is clean and in good working order.

A solution of 10% bleach and water is a perfect all-purpose cleaner for tools and pots alike, and a drop of detergent goes miles to foam dirt out of textured surfaces and cracks. A bristly scrub brush is a perfect sidekick to loosen up dry dirt before washing.

Wash your gardening gloves and look for holes, and oil up mechanisms for clippers and moving parts to have all of your equipment ready for the spring when it arrives.

If there is a tool you are missing or one that you have been eyeballing for a while, shop around a bit and see if you can find what you like for a price you want to pay. Depending on your priorities you may prefer online shopping for deals, or going to a store to get a sense of what you’re buying. Coming into our store can help you determine if you like the weight and feel of the tool before purchasing – and pick up some great knowledge from our staff on the way.

3. Build New Structures

‌In my opinion, there is nothing worse than trying to build something large for the garden when it is 99 degrees outside with 100% humidity. Take advantage of the cool weather and build those garden structures now during the winter weekends. Want a new raised bed? Put it together and place it where it’s going to go, with the soil and compost too. Water deep, then cover it with black plastic so weeds don’t grow, and so the soil stays warm from the decomposition of the composted organic materials.

How about a pole bean tower or teepee? A greenhouse? A compost bin made from old pallets and chicken wire? A new trellis system for cucumbers and peas? Install hoops over your raspberries/blackberries to attach bird netting on to keep birds and squirrels out. Repair your fence around the garden to keep the dogs out. There’s so much that can be done, I can’t even list all the possibilities! Don’t get overwhelmed. Pick a priority project and pick a weekend to dedicate to it.

4. Plan Your Spring Planting‌

Spring will be here before you know it. I pass the coldest days of the year dreaming up the next season’s spring garden – complete with fresh-picked organic tomatoes and squash to be planted. When I’m planning up my spring garden I like to draw it out on graph paper and make my wish list for what I want to be growing in the spring. Next comes the balancing act of trying to make it all fit – do you need another bed or more containers? Or do some of the items on my list not make the cut?

Planning lets you optimistically dream up the next season during the cold and miserable days of winter. It also means accounting for all the supplies your grand plans for spring will need. Don’t forget the starter pots, soil, fertilizer, perlite, and transplant pots!

5. Chicken Projects

‌Do the chicken projects ever end? Not really. But it’s a labor of love. Are you thinking of expanding your flock? You might need to add on to the coop or add another coop altogether. Speaking of coops, did you know Shell’s Feed has coops that are already put together for you? Just place and play! Maybe it’s just time for a good coop scrub, repair, and re-paint. Whatever you decide to do, Winter is a good time to get those labor-intensive projects done for your fluffy-butts. It’s all so that you can play with them more when it’s warm!

I am quite sure you can find more to do in the garden than this. But if you were looking for suggestions, these are what I’ll be working on during the winter. What are you going to get up to? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks, 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.

 

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