In A Nutshell: Small Farms & Gardens

In A Nutshell: Small Farms & Gardens
By Andrew Ray, February 2023

With the spring equinox (March 20th) on the horizon, I am going to use some of my last precious dormancy hours to introduce myself and this new monthly column. I am a gardener, an aspiring young farmer, and my landscaping work pays my bills. We’ll see if we can add “half decent writer” to my resume.

The goal of this column is to share my gardening observations with a wider audience throughout the growing season. I’m also interested in the feedback I might get from inspired readers. I believe we have much to learn from each other. I have been working with plants since I was a young boy, and now as an adult I believe my work is just getting started. I love the feeling of having my hands in the dirt and the rewards of harvesting from the crops I tend to throughout the year. I have much knowledge to share, but still so much to learn.

Based out of Spokane, I have not had much snow removal work to do since the start of the new year. January and February provided some work cleaning up the leaves that reappeared when the December snows melted. Some deciduous leaves are still falling now. They seem to have become stuck to the trees when a snow came in October. The walnut trees I care for dropped their leaves with the snow, but other species seem to have held onto theirs for reasons that are beyond my scientific understandings.

Getting seeds started is one of the next things on my to do list. I know some folks have already started theirs, while others will be with me in the seed supply stores this month. When do you start your seeds, and why? I’m still learning the timings of gardening in this northern climate. My favorite vegetables to plant in my home garden are sweet corn and spicy peppers. I still have a few dried peppers on my kitchen counter that go into my tacos and onto my pizzas when I’m cooking and looking for a kick in the pants. A few dried ears of corn still linger in the pantry as well as I have been slowly feeding them to the pair of pheasants I keep. I still need to tidy my garden beds before outdoor planting season comes.

By the end of March I believe my days will be filled with landscaping work as my clients begin to tidy their yards up for spring. I’m looking to add team members to my landscaping business, as my calendar is overflowing with requests for me to work in peoples’ yards. As much as I love tending to the gardens of others, I also feel the need to allocate my time to my small farm projects as well as fathering my two year old son. My farm work is focused on specialty crops that are not commonly grown in these northern climates. I would like to do more consulting to property owners who are interested in investing in the small-scale farming of specialty crops.

I am thankful that I have made the most of my time during this dormancy season and that I have avoided the seasonal depression that had plagued me in winters past. I’ll give the credit for that to my new indoor plants, my woodworking hobby, and vitamin D supplements. I am eagerly awaiting the feeling of my shovel entering soil that has just thawed. I plan on applying horticulture oil to trees and pre-emergent herbicides to flower beds during March. I’m looking forward to that first flower I’ll see, perhaps a crocus! Once that grass starts growing, I won’t need much else to think about as I run from one yard to the next. I’m currently having to plan out a new irrigation system for an orchard I’ll be planting in early May, but I’ll try to not get too excited about irrigating season yet.

What would you like to see in this column? Do you have any questions for me? Please let me know if you have any ideas to help me grow my business. Good luck with those seeds! My email is:


Past Articles

February 2023
With the spring equinox (March 20th) on the horizon, I am going to use some of my last precious dormancy hours to introduce myself and this new monthly column...MORE

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Andrew Ray

Local Gardener & Landscaper