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

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

Through the March snow, spring is slowly starting to sprout forth. I see green tips from bulbs pushing up in my flower beds in Spokane. The soil is starting to thaw out in some places. It will take some time to clean up all the leaves that linger from last fall. Many plants seem to be in no hurry to bud out quite yet, but their time is coming soon.

My pet pheasants got some attention in last month’s column and I thought I should introduce them more. I own a pair of Lady Amherst’s Pheasants. Their names are Richard and Lady. They are peaceful birds to have in my garden and are very cold hearty for our northern climate. They will have a brief mating season this spring and Lady will lay a clutch of 6-12 eggs. I plan on letting her try to hatch them herself this spring. They enjoy the shrubs and grasses that grow in their aviary and perch on branches I set up for them. Caring for exotic outdoor birds is a fun hobby that I enjoy sharing with others.

I’ve been doing some pruning and clean up work for a few of my landscaping clients. This is a great time of year for pruning fruit trees. Helpful pruning advice can be found online or by calling the Master Gardeners at your local extension office. This is also a great time for dormant oil sprays. Applying a horticulture oil to deciduous trees before their buds break provides protections from insect pests and some diseases while not harming any of the beneficials in your garden. Applications to smaller fruit trees can be made by anyone who can operate a handheld or backpack sprayer.

I started some seeds indoors. Pepper plants and a few types of annual flowers. If I’m successful I’ll save some money on plants this spring. If not I’ll be ready to support my favorite local plant starters.

A few weeks ago I attended an educational workshop about fruit trees that was hosted by the Spokane Edible Tree Project. It was fun to talk with fellow fruit tree enthusiasts and I learned a few things from the speaker, Pat Muntz. I also made a new friend who is already working on a tree breeding project. I told him I had extra walnuts that he could use for seeds and he graciously accepted that offer. It will be fun to see how they grow and I look forward to helping him with his project. 

It seems a little too early to apply pre-emergent herbicides to flower beds in Spokane right now, but it might be too late by the time I write next month’s column. There are a few different types of granular products available at most garden stores. Pre-emergent herbicides don’t stop all the weeds, but they do seem to slow the weeds down enough to be worth their while. Most pre-emergents need to be watered in right after the application, so it’s nice to time applications before rain events or be prepared to water by hand. The weeds will be coming soon enough, I’ll do my best to stay ahead of them this growing season. 

Oh, enough about weeds. I’m excited for flowers! Sure felt like a long winter, and I’m looking forward to being out in the gardens and farms in the spring sunshine.

Gardening Tip of the Month:

Take time to properly prune your favorite perennial plant in your yard
or learn how to prune one you have never trimmed before.


Shelly Monahan-Cain Footer



Andrew Ray

Local Gardener & Landscaper