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

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

What a beautiful month it has been in Spokane!  A procession of color, one plant blooming after another. Fruit trees blossoms all over town provided quite a display.  Bleeding hearts popping up from the ground and reminding us of the beauty that had been hiding below all winter.  I had forgotten how good the lilac flowers smell, so I have been sure to breathe deeply through my nostrils every time I am close to one.  Remember to admire the years of planning and countless hours of care that goes into a well-kept landscape, where each plant has been oriented in way to succeed.  This provides plenty of motivation for me to stay diligent in my work.

My lawn care services certainly have kept me busy this past month.  Spring thunder storms bought plenty of moisture to our soils, and then warmer temperatures and longer days provide perfect conditions for the grass to grow quickly.  It is not easy to suddenly mow a tall lawn short in a single mowing.  Maintaining a shorter lawn is an endeavor that requires attention throughout the entirety of growing season.  I prefer to raise my mower height for tall lawns in the spring knowing that I’ll be able to cut it shorter later this summer.  Its also easy to over apply fertilizer to lawns. I recommend aiming for the lower end of the suggested application rate on most fertilizers.

We just had Mother’s Day, and it appears that warmer temperatures have melted most of the snow from Mt. Spokane, so I’m guessing its safe to plant our vegetable gardens now.  I bought some beautiful pepper and basil plants from my favorite vendors at the plant sale held at Spokane Community College.  Those have been planted in my garden along with sweet corn seeds.  Every time I look at my newly planted raised beds I am filled with excitement for the potential harvest that lies ahead.   

The walnut orchard that I care for has finally started its growing season.  Each tree has put out its male and female flowers, which are shades of green and without petals.  There is reddish hue to the new leaves that accompany the flowers to provide some color, which I find particularly beautiful at sunset.  I have provided each tree with a small portion of fertilizer and a brief drink of water after I flushed my irrigation lines.  It is not time to run extended irrigation sets for these trees quite yet.  The vibrancy of the new growth that I am seeing now is telling me that I did an excellent job with my irrigating and fertilizing last growing season. 

My female Lady Amherst pheasant has been sitting on her clutch of about a dozen eggs for a few weeks now.  She just sits there all day with a blank stare on her face, focused solely on preparing her eggs to hatch.  I do see her get up in the mornings for a brief drink and a meal, but then she quickly returns to her nest.  The male, Richard, leaves her be.  He has continued his mating season squawking longer than I remembered. I am ready for him to return to being a quiet and peaceful bird for the rest of the year.

Looks like that sudden temperature drop last October was tough on the rose bushes.  I’ve decided to cut out the dead black and brown branches at this point. It does appear that new growth is pushing out of the base of some of the effected plants.  One of my rose plants that was able to avoid the freeze damage has started to put out flower buds.  Even when we experience set backs in our gardening efforts, there is still more beauty that lies ahead.

Gardening Tip of the Month:
Stay cool. Enjoy working in your garden in the sunshine as long as you can. Then enjoy a cool beverage in a shaded spot and admire the beauty of your garden the way it is right now.


Shelly Monahan-Cain Footer



Andrew Ray

Local Gardener & Landscaper