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our first winter at the new spot!

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.

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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.

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What’s growing in the garden?

You can find us currently harvesting small amounts of the following:

  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Broccoli & its leaves- our bunny loves!
  • Chard
  • Fava Beans
  • Carrots
  • HELLA garlic
  • Cabbage
  • Cover crop
  • 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.

 

Animal Updates

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!

 

Coming Spring 2021

We are excited about many Spring ventures—-

  • We look forward to offering plant starts, like tomatoes, peppers, & a variety of herbs come springtime! We are teaming with “As Thyme goes by” who we found by digging around Facebook to find out what happened to Thrifty Feed. As Thyme goes by has provided starts to the community for nearly 15 years. We look forward to being a place for fans to get their starts!
  • 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.
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Are you ready to fall back?

And just like that, we are a month into Fall 2020. I was just informed that we are expecting our first below-freezing night next week. AH! Time to stop watering and start to monitor closely those tender succulents and cactus, Folks! It’s been a while since the last post, so read on to find out where Suburban Succulents is now.

New Greenhouse! Slowly filling the new greenhouse

October 2020 is going to mark an important milestone for Suburban Succulents in the coming years- It’s the month I took a giant leap; put my notice in at my full-time, stable-income job to focus my efforts fully on Suburban Succulents. It has been many hours of work to prepare mentally and physically to get our shop space ready to invite customers into- and we are almost there! We even have regular open hours on the weekends.

Now that I have gained 50 hours in my week, I’ve been able to get to more on my Trello to-do lists done… the lists are actually getting checked off instead of only adding to! Currently, the plants are flourishing and our collection is growing like crazy. We are working with several local artists to offer unique gifts as well! I’ll post their information on a vendor page on our website soon. My concept of running a plant & gift shop is coming to life and it feels like the perfect time.

Cactus seeds have been started in the workshop, succulents have been propagated in the nursery, houseplant starts are growing too, plans are being made to keep the greenhouse warm this winter, the chickens are now laying eggs, and the ground of the trash piles that we inherited at the house is in sight- almost 10 months later, we have made tremendous progress!!

With winter hanging its cold head over us- we are getting serious about our winterizing plans for this year. Every other year we’ve lived in WA State we have suffered a loss of some inventory due to freezing. I am trying everything (bar bringing every single plant inside) to keep all succulents & cactus alive this year. I have read about using bubble wrap- I think I have enough in storage to wrap the entire greenhouse- if it comes to it, so be it!! 🙂 We have completed our last watering and will only spot water the hardy cacti and succulents from now until Spring.

Adriane & Chickens Adriane feeding some of the chickens an ear of corn we grew!

I am absolutely loving the chickens. In my opinion, they are the best “back-yard pet” ever. They provide us amazing eggs and they are cute as all get out- if we had less space though, I am sure I’d feel differently- dodging all the shit piles is a challenge but certainly keeps life interesting!

We are raising another three chicks that will be added to the rest of the flock in another 2 months or so- currently, they are living in the workshop under their heat lamp and seem overly excited to get out of there. It’s too soon, ladies!! 😉 I take them outside occasionally to see their sister-hens from a distance. I think it is important to introduce new animals to the rest of the family as soon as possible- we don’t need any problems when the time comes to integrate the different age groups.

The front yard garden is still producing fall crops- small bits of broccoli, carrots, and radish with overwhelming amounts of kale and chard. Fava beans are coming in and our cover crops are taking over. We’ve planted 3 different kinds of garlic for next year. Amazingly to me, the wildflower bed is still flowering- my diligent deadheading has indeed helped. Brett and I are even working on an extensive seed catalog for next year to bring to you all!

in the garden Fall garden bed

That’s all for now from our garden- even though there is so much more to share! Comment below any questions or maybe ideas of ways to keep the greenhouse warm, or anything else you’d like. Happy Fall and hope to see you in the shop soon!

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Spring is Here!

It’s the first day of Spring and tonight you will see the last super moon of 2019 to boot! What are you doing to celebrate?

Our month-long absence has not been in vain- we have been working hard to prepare the succulents for their Spring move back to the greenhouse and outdoors. It is almost that time again to move them outside.

We have BIG plans for the outside this year. We are going to open the yard to customers! We do not have an exact opening date yet, but you will be the first to know… Planning for mid to late April.

Along with that, we are being contacted to host a myriad of workshops around Vancouver & Camas! Come join us at our next one at Artful Attic on April 27. We have tickets available on our home page. Stay tuned for the next dates, to be announced.

If you are interested in having Suburban Succulents join your group for a class to create your own Succulent piece, contact us today. We have many options available for beautiful projects we can guide you in making.

Since Adriane started a full-time job that requires her to work on Friday’s- we have taken a short break from Night Market Vancouver. Her schedule changes to allow an earlier work end time on Friday’s in a couple of months, we will be back as soon as we can!

With that, we have applied for the Salmon Creek Farmer’s Market- taking place on Tuesday’s. We are patiently awaiting the response of if we are in or not.

And finally, the last piece of news for you all, we have taken on our first commercial plant maintenance client- Come check out our plants- a collection of Succulents & Houseplants- at River Maiden Coffee Shop- located off E. Mill Plain Blvd. The shop has partnered with FVHS to have students create & build plant shelving in the windows as well as a hanging fixture in the center of the building. It is going to be our pleasure to supply the plants and maintain them each week! We are over the moon excited for this opportunity.

If you have been thinking of sprucing up your office, store, or home- contact us for all of your succulent or houseplant desires. We have access to any plant options you are interested in and have over 10 years of plant-care experience.

Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will start to share pictures of the succulents as well as what we are up to in the garden.

Until then, Happy Spring! Time to get outside and planting those beautiful gardens. 🙂

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Greenhouse Filled Up!

Yup, that’s right, we have already filled up the new greenhouse… The rain has been looming over us this past week, so we finally bit the grit and moved all the succulents under cover. With that, we are forced to think about what it means once we acquire more plant inventory… Luckily there is still room in our original greenhouse and we have space to grow in the garage. We will definitely have to utilize the garage to grow our more sensitive succulents– which will open more space outdoors… it will all work out. 🙂

inside view
View into the greenhouse!

So far we are noticing the greenhouse is staying relatively warm! There is a lot of condensation that develops on the roof. That is the only issue I see causing problems in the next couple months– issue because when the condensation falls from the roof it waters the succulents with COLD water– that don’t want or need to be watered and probably would prefer to not be given practically freezing water!

Honestly, since moving up here, I have had to let go of anything I thought I knew about raising succulents– I used to just be able to leave my succies outside and water them… that was it… Here, with the less hardy succulents, they require a lot more of my attention so they don’t freeze or rot. We are learning to appreciate Sedums and Sempervivums as they are cold hardy succulents that will do well in the PNW— we are still in testing phase to see if they can handle a freeze and/or snow and lots o’ water.

plants in quarantine
Our 4 plants in quarantine!

Since we used to keep succulents scattered around the backyard to bask in the sun we became used to looking out of our office window to a beautiful view. Since moving the plants under the greenhouse, the backyard looks so empty! Brett’s mind is running with great ideas to better utilize the yard now. Stay tuned for that…

Rain is in the forecast for the next week- since the succulents are under cover, I am less concerned about the water- now to make sure the plants are not freezing and root rotting. With its white cover, light is plenty inside of the house- so this is not a concern, yet. Even with the shortening of days, Brett has reminded me that the natural sunlight will increase a bit in the winter over the house because currently, we have cherry tree leaves causing a few areas of light blocking to the greenhouse– once those finish falling (about 1/3 done) we will get to see a whole new perspective of light on that corner of the yard. It is always a challenge to get the most out of available sunlight on your property and we are not immune to that considering we don’t own a property that we can build anywhere we like.

We have been kept busy preparing for our first market on Friday. We have another market next week too! We have our display pieces figured out, our pricing models decided and pieces ALMOST to final products.  Please enjoy the behind the scenes pictures of our booth for Night Market.

We will catch up with y’all next week! Check out the Patreon page for updates on business progress and follow us on Instagram & Facebook- we will be posting various information across all of these platforms.

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The Greenhouse is DONE!

assembled greenhouse with cover
New Greenhouse built, check!

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…

land space at beginning of project
The starting space- was going to be a fire pit area. Not anymore…

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.

Shelter Logic Greenhouse
The un-boxing of our new Greenhouse!

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.

our sanded area
We used mason sand to create a flatter surface for the new structure.

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! 

our TWO green houses

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!