Brewing Garden Center Success

By Abby Kleckler
Managing Editor, Lawn & Garden Retailer

Husband-and-wife team Amanda and Pat Weakland started their first horticulture adventure together with the opening of a mobile greenhouse in 1991. Their history in the industry, however, dates back before then.

Pat is a third-generation grower, and his parents operate The Flower Bin, a garden center staple in the Longmont, Colorado, community for more than 40 years.

Pat and Amanda sold some of the family product in their Windsor, Colorado, mobile greenhouse for 10 years until they decided the town had reached a point where it was big enough to support a garden center. The Windsor Gardener, a permanent structure, opened in 2001, and the Weaklands started growing at their own location.

Fast forward another decade, and Amanda and Pat have added a very unique component to the business: a brewery.

“You can kind of get in a rut in the garden center business, and it’s hard to keep things new and exciting,” Amanda says. “The brewery really does this for us.”

Lawn & Garden Retailer caught up with Amanda to talk about how the businesses are integrated, and how the brewery has given new life to the garden center and vice versa.

L&GR: How did the idea of starting a brewery at the garden center come about?

Amanda Weakland: My husband has always been an avid homebrewer and he had trouble getting hops in 2007, so we figured we had a garden center and we may as well just grow our own hops.

We have 16 acres just on the edge of town, so we started growing our own hops and all the homebrewers wanted to grow their own too, so we started selling hop plants. We have about 50 varieties of brewing hops that we sell to homebrewers through the garden center and over the internet.

We sold the hop plants, and they’re all females, so they’re all good, specific homebrewing plants that aren’t cross-pollinated.

Everybody loved that, so we put in a homebrew shop in the greenhouse because we needed some fall sales and homebrewing really picks up during the fall because the weather gets cool enough.

With that we were giving classes and were giving samples of the beer that we made, and everybody loved it, so we were like, “Well, let’s put a brewery in.”

So we put a brewery in and we started with a little 400-square-foot tasting room. We thought that would be fine, it would be a little brewery, and we’d just have fun, but it has exploded from there.

We have an outdoor patio and in the winter we convert one of our greenhouses into an indoor beer garden. Our community has really embraced us and supported us, and it’s been a great melding of two businesses.

Our tasting room is in the greenhouse, and you can’t walk around with your beer, but we have kind of a false wall between them with big open windows with no glass, so you can sit there and drink beer and look at the items that we have for sale in the greenhouse, which promotes sales on the garden center side.

A lot of husband/wife teams will come, and the husband will have a beer when the wife shops.

Although, recently, we have a lot more women drinkers too, so we’re kind of getting known for that.

It’s a great mixing of businesses, and in the research we did when we put the homebrew shop in, we found that 80 to 85 percent of gardeners drink beer, so it’s a no-brainer.

L&GR: With the added brewing business, are you seeing different demographics of people?

Weakland: Oh yes, definitely! We’re seeing a huge increase in 25 to 30 year-olds, in the greenhouse especially. They’re the ones who go to the breweries anyway, so we’re seeing that crossover into the greenhouse, which is awesome. They’re all getting into gardening and vegetable gardening, so we can help them.

Our demographic has changed. It was getting to be the older patrons, and so we brought in those younger people.

We have a Hop Harvest event that brings in gardeners and beer drinkers. We cut down our hops and have contests. We harvest the hops by pulling the flower off because we’re so small, so we don’t have machines.

We have a lot of things like, “buy a 12-inch basket or bigger and get a free pint” or “buy a Christmas tree, get a free pint.”

Any classes we have it’s nice because it’s fun to drink a beer while you’re gardening. The cost includes a beer (or root beer if you’re not a drinker).

We do a lot of cross marketing. We also have live music on Friday and Saturday nights the whole year-round, which doesn’t really cross between the two businesses, but we get a lot of people in.

The brewery absolutely provides a reason to heat that big greenhouse, which in our position it’s really difficult to keep money coming in during the winter.

We also grow things in the greenhouse that we use in our beers. Lemon verbena goes into The Golden One, and we cross the businesses that way. We try to utilize farm-to-table ideas.

All the habaneros in our Habanero Honey that we recently released were grown on site. My dad actually grew them.

L&GR: I noticed on your social media channels that you have a lot of engagement on the High Hops page. Have you combined your marketing efforts as well?

Weakland: Our High Hops and Windsor Gardener pages were integrated, so that’s how we have so many followers on the High Hops page. Brewery people are totally Facebook/social media nerds. They are on social media constantly, so that really bumps up the likes and communication for that; whereas I find that the gardeners aren’t so much.

That’s that demographic difference too, so we actually utilize our garden center Facebook through the High Hops page, and we get tons of feedback on that. That’s another way we integrate both.

We have a huge email base from our loyalty system through our greenhouse, and they usually give us their email, so we have a biweekly email for the garden center in the off seasons (it’s weekly during season), and we have a weekly email through the brewery.

I think we have about 9,000 emails, so that’s a huge marketing tool that we have which actually started with the greenhouse. That’s been huge for us. We try to keep our emails short and to the point. You get tons of emails so we do what’s happening or what you should do now in your yard, ad we’ve gotten a great response on that. That’s our most successful. It really is.

It’s a big family affair. My son is our head brewer. My husband and I have been in the business for forever. My daughter is a teacher but works in the greenhouse in the summer. My daughter-in-law works in the tasting room, which we call the Hop Hut because we’re High Hops.

Our businesses are also really closely integrated in that many of our employees work in both places, so we help out each other. They are very integrated, literally in the same space.

(Article provided by Lawn & Garden Retailer)

Better Soils From A Better Biochar

ARBORChar®, A Better Way to Grow

ARBORChar® is uniquely built to be a soil amendment and fertilizer, blending nutrients to target specific plant needs with biochar to help improve leaf vigor, root and fruit growth, and soil structure, while aiding in the proliferation of soil microorganisms. ARBORChar is designed to have neutral pH and produce minimal dust and it will not burn plant tissue. It’s made with biochar sourced from sustainably grown, untreated, unpainted, hardwood trees, and loaded with organic nutrients, minerals, blood meal, and bone meal. ARBORChar All Purpose Grow 5-6-4 and Root, Flower & Fruit 3-6-4 go above and beyond traditional biochar products.

What is Biochar?

Biochar is an extremely porous charcoal, rich in carbon, which enhances soils through retention of water and nutrients and increased soil biodiversity. The use of biochar to enhance soil productivity goes back 2000 years, when Amazonians smoldered agricultural waste in pits or trenches. Today, biochar is made through a modern process called pyrolysis, the thermal decomposition of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, producing a porous and activated carbon material which helps to build soil, conserve water, and sequester carbon.

Carbon Sequestration

The burning and natural decomposition of organic matter and agricultural waste adds large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere. Biochar can reduce the growth in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels by holding carbon in soils for thousands of years. The production of biochar is a carbon-negative process which removes more CO2 from the atmosphere than released.

Water Retention & Soil Amendment

Biochar is recognized as offering several benefits to soil related to its porous nature and high surface area. The structure of biochar can attract and retain both water and water-soluble nutrients. Thus, nutrients, are retained for the plants benefit instead of leaching into water. The porous structure is also an extremely suitable habitat for beneficial micro-organisms, which play an essential role in soil fertility and plant growth.

Soil pH & Cation Exchange Capacity

Nutrients are more plant available in acid soils. Optimum soil’s pH range from 5.5 to 7.0. Biochar generally has high pH (e.g. 6 – 10), so in areas where a soil pH is low, biochar can help to buffer the acidity in the soil, making nutrients like Iron and Phosphorus available for plants to take up through their roots and minimizing deficiencies.

Biochar can help create soils with high Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). Surfaces that are negatively charged like biochar and organic matter hold on to positively charged nutrients because opposite charges attract. The soil can then “exchange” these nutrients with plant roots.

Using ARBORChar:

Use ARBORChar on indoor and outdoor vegetables, herbs, annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs. Add 1 to 4 tsp of ARBORChar per container or use 3 cups to cover 200 sq. ft. Mix in 1 to 6 inches below the soil surface in new planting beds, around established plants, or in root zone when planting. Repeat applications throughout the growing season every two to four weeks to maintain optimal nutrition. Water in thoroughly after applications. For best results, plant with compost and water with NutriRoot.

All Purpose Grow 5-6-4 offers a balanced package of NPK for general plant growth as well as 6% Calcium to help inhibit Blossom End Rot and 2% Magnesium to prevent yellowing. Root, Flower & Fruit 3-6-4 has a reduced nitrogen percentage to allow plants to focus on rooting and fruiting and contains 10% Calcium, and 2.5% Magnesium.

ARBORChar is available in 1 & 4 lbs. bags and covers 200 to 800 sq. ft. Offer your customers the Fertilizer & Water Manager Display. Stocked with NutriRoot and ARBORChar, this display is designed with extra messaging to help you sell these unique products. Earn more profit with the FREE, corrugated display, without taking up a lot of space. It also comes pre-stocked for an easy and time saving set up.

About Arborjet®, Inc.

Founded in 1999, Arborjet has developed the leading tree injection equipment and formulations to protect trees while supporting the landscape industry. After years of research, Arborjet is pleased to also bring effective and sustainable solutions to the home gardener.

Order Now Using Program Number: A93E2

Scotts Spring Lawn Care Tips

Tackling spring lawn care provides a dose of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise—and sets lawns on their way to season-long glory. Spring lawn chores aren’t difficult, but they do play a vital role in getting grass on track for a healthy, productive growing season.

Here are our top spring lawn care tips:

Early Spring

Mower Tune Up. Change the oil, air filter, and spark plug. Clean the top and undercarriage, removing dirt and grass clippings. Just be sure to detach the spark plug wire before working around the cutting blade. Don’t flip a gas mower over to clean underneath; simply lift one side and brush away dried grass. If dried grass has hardened, loosen with a hand trowel or putty knife. Sharpen the mower blade, and replace it if it has large nicks or gouges. It’s a good idea to keep an extra blade on hand so you always cut with a sharp edge. Last but not least, fill the fuel tank.

Clean up. Walk over lawns and gather any twigs, branches or other debris that has appeared over winter. Dispose of trash, and add small twigs and leaves to compost piles. Then, rake out dead grass. It can also go on the compost pile, unless it contains weeds.

Repair bare spots in Northern lawns. Fix bare patches in cool-season turf using Scotts® EZ Seed®. Water newly seeded areas daily for at least a week, but ideally until grass reaches mow-able height. Avoid mowing until grass is at least 2 inches tall or the same height as surrounding lawn. (Wait until late spring for Southern lawns.)

Prevent weeds in the North. For Northern lawns where crabgrass has been a problem in the past, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food in early spring. Follow label directions, and only use this product if no spring seeding projects are planned.

Feed the grass. If crabgrass wasn’t a problem, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food to Northern lawns around the time of the first mowing. This will give nourishment to plant roots for strong growth. If weeds weren’t an issue last year on your Southern lawn, feed grass with Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Lawn Food to help protect lawns against heat and drought. With all lawn fertilizers, follow label directions carefully for best results.

Mow high. Adjust the mower deck to cut grass at the highest possible setting for the lawn’s type of grass. Tall grass sinks deeper roots (which can seek out moisture) and crowds out weeds. Most turf types thrive with a 3- to 4-inch blade height, which usually corresponds to a mower’s highest setting. Choose a middle setting for Zoysia grass and Centipede grass, and the lowest setting for Bermuda grass and creeping bentgrass. The rule of thumb for mowing is to remove only one-third of the total grass blade length at a time.

Edge beds. In early spring, soft soil makes edging beds a cinch. Using a sharp garden spade or half-moon edger, cut a 2- to 3-inch deep, V-shaped trench along beds to keep grass out. Maintain this edge with a string trimmer throughout the growing season, recutting only as needed. If you’re refreshing existing trench edges in spring by digging out soil or mulch that has filled the trench, toss weed-free material onto planting beds as mulch or add it to a compost pile.

Apply mulch. Wait until soil has warmed to refresh mulch for the growing season. Shredded mulch provides a polished finish to planting beds, which you’ll get when you use any variety of Scotts mulch. Scotts mulches provide vibrant year-long color and help prevent weed growth by blocking access to the sun. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer around (but not on top of) your plants.

Put Some DRAMM Color In The Garden This Season

Select the perfect water pattern with Dramm’s new RainSelect™ Rain Wand™ and ColorStorm™ 4-Pattern Gear Drive Sprinkler.

The RainSelect™ 9-Pattern Rain Wand™ is the prefect tool for outdoor watering! The nine patterns vary from a fine mist setting for seedlings, to the shower setting for mature plants and flowers. The One Touch thumb valve provides complete water flow control, efficiently saving water while watering from one plant to the next. It’s a great item for water restricted areas!

The RainSelect™ 9-Pattern Rain Wand is made with aluminum for a lightweight and durable feel, comes with a lifetime guarantee to the consumer, and is available in 16 inch lengths and 30 inch lengths in a variety of vibrant colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and berry.

The new ColorStorm™ 4-Pattern Gear Drive Sprinkler is ideal for watering small, medium and large areas. Each pattern can be selected by the simple twist of the selector dial. It offers an adjustable circle of coverage up to 360 degrees with maximum spray coverage of up to 40 feet in diameter.

Mounted to a die cast metal sled base, which can be easily pulled through the lawn. The gear drive sprinkler is a great, mobile, flexible sprinkler for a variety of watering applications. A pass-through feature allows additional sprinklers to be connected to cover larger areas.

The ColorStorm™ 4-Pattern Gear Drive Sprinkler is made of heavy-duty material and is available in Dramm’s 6 eye-catching colors that won’t get lost in the lawn: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and berry.

The joy of hand watering is short-lived when battling your hose. The constant pulling and twisting wears on the hose and you. Dramm relieves this stress and brings back the job of hand watering with the new, made-in-the-U.S.A., Brass Hose Swivel.

The new Brass Hose Swivel is a live swivel. This means it swivels while under pressure to allow hose-end accessories to turn independently of the hose. Hose-end accessories can be moved in any direction without having to fight the hose. Allowing you to twist and turn, while watering without the hose getting tangled. Click here is watch it in action!

Dramm has been making professional watering tools for nurseries, greenhouse growers, and avid gardeners for over 75 years. Dramm strives to produce products that save time and energy, while providing quality products that will last a lifetime.

Order Now Using Program Number: D40E1

Merchant’s Picks For April

Want to know what hot items you should have on your shelves for this month? Find out with this list of Merchant’s Picks for April 2017.

Merchant Picks - April 2017

Item NumberItem NameWHY A MERCHANT PICK?
B70 60410Crabgrass Preventer with Fertilizer 24-00-8 - 5,000 sq. ft.Prevents crabgrass and other grassy weeds for up to 5 months.
D28 6YR350 Landscape Weed Barrier - 6 YearIdeal for short-term weed control.
D40 10127009-Pattern Revolver AssortmentApril is watering season. help plants and lawns off to a strong start.
E60 HT36Holly-tone All-Natural Plant Food 4-3-4 - 36 lb.For acid-loving plants, such as hollies, azaleas, camellias, evergreens, dogwoods, and rhododendrons.
L51 B550110Bobbex Deer Repellent And Plant Nutrient - 32 oz. RTUSpring brings lush green growth, which attracts the deer. Be ready for them with this effective, natural deer repellent.
S09 17183Scotts Classic Sun & Shade Grass Seed - 3 lb.Great for repairing bare spots, reseeding or new lawns. Grows well in both sunny and shady areas.
S09 99605Scotts GrubEx Season-Long Grub Killer - 5,000 sq. ft.Kills and prevents all season (up to 4 months). Guaranteed! Improved killing power.
T18 8642100Neverkink Extra Heavy-Duty Hose - 5/8" x 100'April is watering season. Help plants and lawns off to a strong start.
W75 239PPremium Ultra-Energy Ready to Use Hummingbird Nectar - 64 oz. Red.Migration of hummingbirds is starting. Be ready for them with nutritious nectar.