We’ve had weather in the low & high 40’s… who’s complaining about that?!
So far, there are no complaints about our first winter at the new house. We’ve seen ice, maybe thrice, and no snow, yet! Yeah, it has rained a lot, but I enjoy listening to the sound of it on the roof while I work. Between weather events, we have been able to get the yard and garden more prepared for the coming seasons and have even spotted the Sun a few times! Yipee! On the 5th we received a load of free wood chips to use for the yard and another on the 21st. The yard is now set for mulch for the year. If anyone needs woodchips, bring a shovel, bucket, and a way to get it gone! There is never a dull moment around here.
Our January Garden Update
What we are doing and you might consider too:
Although now is not the time to focus so much on what is growing in the ground, January is the best time to get your plans pulled together for your Spring, Summer, and even Fall gardens. Here’s what we are working through this month:
Create a seed wishlist and go through the backlog of all the seeds to test for viability. We are gathering information as to how much we will use and how much we want to freeze. The public library has many food preservation books that I have been reading through… To sustain one’s family, you need so many bushels of food!
Plan crop rotations and succession plantings. Brett has created a detailed seed catalog that is used as a tool for planning successions and rotations. In some time maybe we will have our schedule fully automated and have simply a reminder of “hey, it’s time to plant x today”.
Pruning back dormant vines, fruit trees, and blueberry bushes. We placed new beds for our berries this year- now for the hard part- choosing a more permanent place to plant them then in a large portable pot.
Layering our dormant beds with compost and other soil amendments (did you see our tips about compost?). We are preparing our beds now to be productive growers in the early spring!
Fill mulched areas around the yard with another layer of mulch. Now is the time to get woodchips, especially in the PNW. We have had two loads of free chips dropped in the last 3 weeks. I want to simply sing the praises of getchipdrop.com and I am thankful for the free mulch, however, there is a slight issue with the contracted companies not following instructions on where to drop the chips in our yard- so simply beware of that.
There are plenty of other things you can do to prepare the garden at this time of year but nothing beats the time spent dreaming about what you will accomplish in the coming year. Let us know what you are adding to your garden to prepare for spring.
Try this to build your compost!
Is your compost lacking body and decomposition? Our was.
We learned about a rapid-fire composting technique that involves Wood pellets (animal bedding) and Alfalfa pellets (animal feed) found at your local feed store. Soak the pellets overnight in water and add it to your compost tumbler, or pile, or heap, or whatever. The wood pellets act as the brown (carbon) where the alfalfa pellets act as the green (nitrogen) in your compost. The more alfalfa you add the faster your pile will heat up, adjust your ratios of either type of pellets depending on your compost.
The benefit of adding alfalfa to your compost in addition to your grass clippings and even coffee grounds is that alfalfa is also a slow-release fertilizer.
What’s growing in the garden?
You can find us currently harvesting small amounts of the following:
Broccoli & its leaves- our bunny loves!
Lettuce starts (inside the workshop)
Which brings us to…
It’s time to plan all the plantings!
Suburban Succulents Happenings
The shop is improving! Each week we try to make an upgrade. Last week we changed out the lighting in our storage space. Now that we are more confident with what is required, we are planning to upgrade the lights throughout the entire shop. We still have to get that pesky door changed out… For those of you who have visited the shop, you know the door I am talking about that is just sitting and blocking the back exit, currently. I can’t wait for the light that will come through that window!
We have finally been feeling the low 20s of winter and as a precaution, the greenhouse has been cleared of tender succulents. We are leaving a few select items in the greenhouse to see what happens mainly Haworthias, Gasterias, and some of our mother plants… we have lost a few soldiers so far, but slowly we are learning which plants can handle the outdoor greenhouse life in the PNW. It’s madness and we love it- I often remind myself that “We grow through what we go through” and next year won’t be this same way.
Butte moved into a shed to keep her dry… She’s not necessarily happier there because she loved to dig in the dirt in the yard, however, she still gets to jump around the yard occasionally and she is staying a lot cleaner!
The Lil chicks are fully integrated with the other hens and are being weaned off their chick feed (we are really just trying to use through the bag that we last bought). It’s a pain in the ass to corral them into their own fenced area to eat their food nowadays. Little fact: Chickens that are laying should not eat medicated chick food as it’s not recommended to eat their eggs because of coccidiosis medication playing some part with the eggs… not medical advice, but we are working through it.
The other day we went to Orchard Feed to get chicken food and other composting pellets; we ended up ordering 7 chicks, four more than we intended to. We love our wide variety of chicken breeds. The unique egg colors & characteristics of each hen are absolutely fascinating! The pleasure that it brings me to watch them waddle around the yard- pure merriment!
Expect lots of spring bulb planters to be available in the coming weeks. We will also have lots of outdoor pots, some empty and others with flowers, to liven up your home!
By June we should be able to offer cage-free, backyard-raised, well-loved chickens eggs! With our flock growing to nearly double the size in just a few weeks, our egg production should be locked into a steady number by May or June. Please let us know if you are interested in getting on our egg list!
Do you want chickens but do not want the work of the chick/pullet phase? Let us know, I’m happy to raise chicks for you and your family.
How about meat birds? If you want fresh chicken, let us know and we will chat about our meat bird plan.
We are definitely still gardening, well, kinda. 🙂 Currently, it’s more quick dashes outside to pull some greens for the animals and to harvest veggies and herbs that we need for our meal rather than planting anything new in the ground. Outside right now, you will find we have lettuce, parsley, kale, chard (barely holding on), carrots, arugula (like crazy), broccoli, and beets (almost gone) that are gracing us with their presence. Back on Halloween, we made 4 new 32 sq ft. garden beds in the yard- there are now 14 garden beds, plans to add 4 more in 2021, and a foolish idea to add cow panels along the entire front of the yard to grow peas which turns into a redesign of how the beds are utilized into the future. December is the time to plan for next season- what are the dream plants to eat next year vs. the reality of what we have space, time, and the climate to grow.
Brett and I have planted our garlic crop for next year and it is already growing! We are both worried that we didn’t plant enough…there is always next year to grow more, but we don’t want to wait that long. We planted a winter-hardy cover crop to keep the beds that are not in production busy over the fall/winter months; planting a cover crop helps with keeping the beds “actively photosynthesizing” and soil being worked by the roots for next seasons use. The beds that we have nothing in now look so sad sitting out there empty… makes us look forward to seeing the ground covered in snow!
Our indoor seedling nursery is FINALLY coming together in a corner of the workshop. I am looking forward to the year that we no longer buy any of our veggies from the store… it’s getting closer.
Topic to Consider: Compost Your Leaves
Do you usually compost your fall leaves or gardening waste? If not, this year is the time to start. You can make a compost pile in almost any space, large or small. All of the leaves in the yard/street/everywhere imaginable are wonderful, not only for jumping in 😉 but also for providing wonderfully nutrient-dense compost for your garden next year. Additionally, you can add your table scraps and any other green waste from your home to recycle the plant matter and provide nutrients to your future gardens.
Our three smallest hens are getting used to being outdoors with the rest of the flock and are living full-time in the coop with their sister fri-hens. Now all 9 are running around and having a good time eating bugs and grass and whatever else they find to devour. I think that only 2 or 3 of the hens are actually laying eggs, given it is winter, egg production is known to slow-down so I am not getting too worried about it yet…but, once mid-spring rolls around if they aren’t all laying, then I’ll be charging rent.
Butte absolutely LOVES being outside right now- her fur coat was made for this life- her white coat, however, was not. *Ya Filthy Animal* haha. She has an entire greenhouse covered area as well as an outdoor exposed space to frolic about that we move every couple weeks… shes loving all the scraps from our veggies with the occasional grain mixed treats and shares how much she loves us by digging holes in the yard for us to trip in. The chickens just think the spaces we’ve filled-in are dust bathing holes, so, I guess, depending on how you look at this, it’s just one big happy farm family… 😐
Suburban Succulents Happenings
The inside of Suburban Succulents is almost finished with the conversion from garage to plant shop! ALMOST! Brett and I are installing the new lights soon- by the end of this month is the goal. The houseplants that are growing in the shop are doing very well but will do even better once there is more energy-efficient lighting for them to thrive under.
We’ve finished the touch-up painting and accent wall, mounted the pipe shelving, hung our Diane Madaras calendar art, and now the space really looks like a real shop. Next, we mount the room dividing curtains, which will provide a better aesthetic to the shop that is conveniently shared with the laundry room, and then we replace the backdoor… an infinite work in progress it seems…but there IS progress.
All of the Succulents & Cactus and Orchids are happily growing in the greenhouse- they made it through the first early freeze at the end of October using only 4 sheets precariously hanging from the walls of the greenhouse to protect the babies. I’ll be insulating the bottom of the house with bags filled with leaves (yes, we are the “crazy” people who ask their neighbors for their leaves) and from there we are gonna see what mother nature has in store for us. I’m sure there will be an update of some additional attempts made at freeze-proofing the greenhouse. We’ve mentioned bubble-wrap and it’s not ruled out by any account. 😉
A quick thank you to all of those who continue to support us on this journey of owning and operating our small-scale nursery and eventual farm. We can’t wait for the changes and growth that 2021 promises and being able to share it with all of you. Happy holidays, take care and be safe, Everyone!
Wow, we are overjoyed with the support we have received from the community! We have three upcoming workshops in the month of April and possibly more on the way.
The first is with the Vancouver Housing Authority- so these tickets will not be available to the public.
Secondly, we will be at The Lacamas Lake Lodge 4/22 at 6pm for a family-friendly, build your own succulent terrarium class. Tickets are available for $30 on our website. This workshop is brought to you in collaboration with Camas Parks & Recreation. https://www.suburbansucculents.com/product/succulent-workshop-lacamas-lake-lodge-4-22/
Lastly, Artful Attic is hosting us at their shop in Camas on 4/27 at 6:30. Tickets are $50 and will include drinks! Here is the link to purchase tickets https://www.meetup.com/Camas-Art-Meetup/events/259700636/
We look forward to seeing you at one of these events!
If you are interested in or have a place in mind to host a succulent event, please let us know! We still have availability in April & May and will work with you to offer the event you desire.
Hope you all are enjoying Spring thus far. The growing season has definitely begun!
I’m on FIRE!! Is anyone familiar with that song by Fallout Boy? It’s an oldie but somehow stuck in my head when I started this blog post. 🙂
Well, we have not actually set anything on fire, but it is definitely lit up in the garage. The plants are growing substantially. It is amazing with adding 6 LED’s can do to help the plants grow.
Now, with all the lights set up, we can focus on HEAVILY expanding our propagation stations. I can’t imagine what the nursery is going to be looking like this spring. I hope to have succulents popping out of our ears– the plan to expand into Cactus and Air Plants are underway, and our Orchid/Tenufolia/Dendrobium collection is still surviving and thriving (although these are all living in the upstairs office enjoying the warmth of the house). Next week I will get some posts up showing all of the sprouting Cactus which we started from seed only last week. We are using a heat mat and it is producing incredible results.
Above are only a couple of shots we have captured of our new set-up in the garage of the LED lights and of the last night market we attended on 2/1. At this point, I have fallen behind on getting this blog posted, so I’m just trying to get something out to you all!
As always, let us know if you hav questions or comments about what we are up to. We love to keep in touch and teach as much as we can about succulents!
Love to you all! Thank you for the continued support.
With the new year rang in, we are rolling out new merchandise! We hear you that keeping succulents alive is tough work (see our previous blog posts for examples of our struggles, they are very real) so in response, we are adding non-living merchandise crafted and sourced by yours truly. We will continue to grow and sell small-batch succulents, of course, but our original business model cannot thrive on selling plants alone, especially in this climate and with the limited space we have available.
So with that, we are introducing the following products! Please let us know what you think in the comments. 🙂
Cards – Adriane is really into puns. She has created greeting cards to include with purchases, or to be purchased on their own. We are working on the printing logistics and ink-friendly options. 🙂
Stickers – We are in the process of designing stickers for branding purposes on our projects and other designs for sale – waffling between bumper stickers and transfer stickers (for windows and other smooth surfaces). Any succ-scribers have an idea for a succulent sticker? Let us know in the comments.
3D printer ideas – Keychains, Earrings, Rings, Stencils, Galore! Brett has set-up the 3D printer and we are finding that what it can make is going to send us to another level of success. We are at the very beginning phases of this, but be on the lookout.
Paper Projects – At the Vancouver Library, we stumbled across a book about making 3D paper plants. Naturally, we had most of the supplies needed to do the craft, so here we are. So far created is a Christmas Cactus. Y’know, it is rather tough to get an Exacto knife to cut exactly how you want it to. Stay tuned to Instagram to see how these turn out.
We will continue to be at Night Market Vancouver into 2019. With the generous support of our patrons, we can afford the $60 entry fee. Thank you to those of you supporting us!
We have a few new venues in sight for 2019:
Vancouver Farmers Market- hope to be at the weekly Salmon Creek Market starting in May ’19- application in progress.
Wine Fest in May– more details to come as we get them. Going to be a busy May if all things work as planned.
We are preapproved to vend at the Craft Beer & Wine Fest in Vancouver, WA this June. With at least 2500 people expected in attendance, this means BIG things for Suburban Succulents brand exposure. We will keep you updated on this project!
Lots of excitment brewing in the world of Suburban Succulents. We will post again in the next couple days to update y’all on the status of the succulents growing in the garage and around the house. *Teaser- more lights are on the way*
As always, let us know what you think! Have a great rest of your day.
This process is moving slowly and relatively purposefully– We are in no particular rush to disturb the succulents cause we have no intended purpose with them currently. (Announcement on Patreon Jan 1)
Around Christmas, we were graced with slightly warmer temperatures. I spent a couple afternoons working in the garage replanting succulents and setting up a better grow space. All you need is a light sweater out there with all the lights on. 😉
The exploration is on for a “best” set-up our space for growing plants in the garage– we have tables to move around and a couple of grow lights that we have yet to plug-in (we still need bulbs). This will increase the grow space significantly for the plants and maybe help knock them out of their winter rest period. We are preparing to pot-up succulents into 2″ pots for spring/summer sales but need to acquire more pots. The struggle is real!
Oh yes, we are still growing succulents in the greenhouse in our backyard. Varieties like Crassula, Sedums, Sempervivum, LARGE echeverias, and elephant bush are thriving and do not seem to be bothered by the cooler temperatures and rain. For now, we plan to leave these outside. The experiment continues… we’ll keep you posted.
That brings us to the inside… Inside the house, or at least downstairs has exploded with succulent arrangements and potted displays. I am starting to understand how the indoor houseplant clubs are such a popular concept in areas with cold weather conditions. Not needing to put on a coat to go outside to hang out with the succulents, what a treat! I must admit, our upstairs space has always been busting with my personal non-succulent house plants- so now, basically every room you enter our house, you can count on a breath of fresh cleaned air. 🙂 I love it!
With that, we hope you’ve enjoyed the photos & content we’ve posted. Let us know in the comments what suggestions you have for us to best utilize our space- inside or out! We love feedback.
If you are interested in learning more about our business goals and supporting these goals in the coming year, check us out on Patreon.
Want to stay social with us? Check out our Instagram or Facebook pages.
Wishing everyone a safe New Year and hope for prosperity to come your way in 2019.
Well, it happened, the thing we feared most of the impending winter season…. we lost some succulents, actually, we lost quite a few succulents from our outdoor greenhouse
The hardest hit crop was our lucky Jade (Crassula ovata) — not so lucky, eh? I had *luckily* brought a few small cuttings inside the garage; the mother and giant plants are completely ruined, they have lost their characteristic firmness as their leaves hold water (more water than say a skinny echeveria plant) they are now plush & squishy (like play dough and soggy bread feeling) and quite sad looking indeed.
All the plants were looking fine as we came back from our Thanksgiving trip… And then the couple nights of freezing temperatures hit us. After installing a thermometer in the greenhouse, I watched the temperatures drop down to as low as 26 degrees F two nights in a row, even with a heat lamp installed! I should have brought everything inside the first time it got that cold— I did not… Tested out the hardiness of the plants and mother nature taught Suburban Succulents a lesson.
Mind you, not all of our succulents have been harmed! There are quite a few that are not *yet* showing signs of overall damage, so that is a relieving feeling.
Ultimately we have settled on moving all of the succulents inside for the rest of winter. Our garage and downstairs living space is filled with succulent containers and flats! I am happy that the succulents get to enjoy a warmer place– although we are now changing out the cold weather for sub-par lighting issues in the rooms… We shall see where this takes us!
The next job, which I didn’t realize was going to become a job this early in the year, is to replant and categorize our succulent collection according to types. No more of our random flat growing days– we are going to divide and conquer- hopefully, making it easier to inventory with the continual growth of the business.
Catch up with you next week on the progress of all this- and a total assessment of our succulent loss due to the freezing temperatures.
Our First Market EVER- Night Market Vancouver… Come & see us 11/2 & 12/7!
Here we find ourselves again… announcing our excitement to attend our *first ever* market at the end of next week! We will be at Night Market Vancouver and this is just the start of our growth process! We have been busy purchasing supplies, prepping our products, building displays, making sure our technology integration is set while still running the normal day to day of the business.
The market theme is Salsa night- and we are going for it. We have set out with the frame of mind that we will design our display to be relatively “themed” for each occasion. I have gone over the top with concepts– thinking of a 6’X6′ booth of colorful fiesta flowers and streamers with salsa dresses and beautifully woven tablecloths. We are giving ourselves until Friday to come up with our booth design, so stay tuned for that. It makes most sense for us to finalize what products we are bringing and design based off the space these products require.
We are nervous about all the details of the market however, I feel with the experience Brett & I bring to the table, we will have no problems getting everything pulled together, planned and prepared ahead of time to do a stellar job at the market.
Since moving to the PNW, I was concerned we would not have access to the many supplies needed to operate this business. I have been proven so wrong of that concern *thank goodness*– there are SO many great places in Vancouver alone that are springing our company into action. We have found an even larger jackpot of supply in Portland, OR. It is absolutely amazing and kismet. I’ll post at a later time a list of resource stores we utilize.
We have already begun to prep for our second market in December– we will spare the details that we have already begun to plan. I CAN’T WAIT! We were also informed that there is space that opened up in the 2nd November market that takes place at a new location and has a different theme… we are putting off registering as we don’t really have the money to enter– but if fate allows the space be available in a couple of days, we will be entering.
I keep repeating to myself & Brett- prior planning prevents poor performance… so far it’s working for us. We are running on schedule and getting so many of our tasks crossed off the list– and brainstorming our next lists. I feel ready for this business to take off and leave me busy and satisfied with my life work!
Greenhouse update: The succulents that have been moved into the greenhouse are doing GREAT! So far we have had two nights of about 40-degree weather- nothing has died or rotted to its death, yet… There is rain in the forecast for the next week, so I am considering it is time to bring the succulents that are still in the exposed yard inside the greenhouse for their winter rest periods– to keep them dry and most importantly, keep them alive.
Hoping everyone is getting into the #toospooky season. We have partially set up decorations at the house, but have left it half-done… let’s just say we have put our motivations to efforts that are screaming their importance for success.
Will we see any of you at the Night Market on 11/2? How about 12/7? Let us know below!
Well, we did it! We have doubled our covered inventory space in the backyard… all with a giant thanks to Fred Meyer garden center! Brett and I were poking around Freddies on Wednesday night looking for the supplies we would need to build our new greenhouse- as discussed in our last post, check it out– we came across a 6′ x 8′ x 6.5′ temporary greenhouse structure— for 50% off!!! We didn’t buy it that night because it was not the appropriate size to fit in the space we have for it.
So, here is how all this went down- Thursday morning, I was looking out the window into the backyard and saw how well the sun hits the spot NEXT to where our current greenhouse is… I went upstairs and told Brett that maybe we should use that spot for our new greenhouse… We went and measured and voila- it would fit the 6′ x 8′ footprint of the greenhouse we found for cheap…
A day went by- Friday morning- I woke up panicked that the greenhouse would not be available at Fred Meyer any longer- 50% off is a great deal- and I’m used to Bay Area where someone else would have scooped that up just to resell it. Needless to say, I did not expect it to last. I called the store to check on the inventory level and see if I would save myself a trip there. I was told that they weren’t selling greenhouses any more and to check back in spring… I told her, “Darn, I was just there two days ago and there were two left! Thanks though…”
This made me feel some type of way… my gut did not trust the answer. So I got in my car- drove to Freddie’s and walked back to the garden center.
There they were! Sitting in the same spot as two days ago and still 50% off. SCORE! I dragged one of the babies home with me.
On Friday we got serious about the job ahead… We prepped the ground and assembled the structure. To prep the ground, we scraped up the old layer of rock, then made the ground slope a little more even with dirt and sand. After, we spread a new layer of sand, leveled the surface, and covered the area with weed block (landscaping) cloth. We reused the old rocks in the back corner area, then spread 2.5 bags of new rock in the area. Once the pad had been prepped, we began to build the greenhouse.
FYI – We shop at Yard N’ Garden Land in Vancouver, WA for sand, rocks, soil, and ideas. They are a great nursery store with wonderful customer service to boot. We have bought some of our favorite Sedums from this place and love to walk around and look at the seasonal plants and decor they stock.
Anyway- The hardest part of assembling the greenhouse was driving the stakes into the ground. Note- they did not make it all the way down… I am not even in the slightest concerned about this– there will be plenty of weight on the shelves and within the structure to weigh down the house– and well, time will tell…
Brett & I are stoked about this greenhouse- it saved us a couple hundred dollars and a lot of time and effort on constructing our own. The cover of this structure alone is 10 times better than what we could have DIY’d.
We haven’t really moved succulents into the greenhouse as I was really tired after working in the sun. We did move some of our Jade collection in to see how they take to the structure. IMO, Jade is our hardiest plant and one I have the most trust in- I do not anticipate anything to change with moving the Jade in, but am willing to use them as test subjects. 🙂
The weather forecast this week in Vancouver, WA shows 60’s to low 70’s with lots of sunshine, no need to worry about the succulents so much this week. REALLY, no rush with that forecast. I am viewing this like we have one major step completed in winterizing our succulent inventory. As a bonus, we even have the old greenhouse & space that can be re-utilized as an “Orchid House” – as well as a place to store my personal favorites. As I said, I’m in no rush to get the plants moved, in fact, this coming week I have a friend visiting and I’m not planning to spend much time with the plants at all – TOUGH LOVE little succies!
Side note, we are still working our way around the backyard, updating and cleaning it as we go. This is something I love about Brett & I- we attempt (and I think, succeed) to beautify every backyard we have. This place has been no different – now that fall is here, we are kept much busier with raking than in the Bay Area – and with all the moisture in the air, weeds are growing bat-shit crazy fast. We have yet to spray with chemicals to eradicate them because I find it therapeutic to go outside and dig the weeds out.
We have been lucky to come across some great succulent and planter deals around town. As we get more and more serious about Suburban Succulents, everything seems to keep falling into place. Kismet, and that’s how I know things are on the right path.
Hope all of you are finding sweet deals on garden supplies in your towns! Please share in the comments what you stock up on at the end of growing season!