Victory Seed Company News

What's Happening Around the Farm as well as a Soapbox for Victory Seed Co. founder, Mike Dunton

Archive for May, 2011

Quick Update

Farm Update – It has been a cold, wet, gray, miserable weather week.  Yes it allowed me to get caught up on a lot of web and office work, but I had ground all tilled and ready to plant last Saturday.  Then the floodgates opened.  The tomato plants in the greenhouse are at the point they need to stretch their roots and get out into the garden.  Looks like it will be one of those years we are planting in the mud.

But I certainly am not in a position to complain.  Yes, it is inconvenient.  Yes, it could affect our harvests this fall.  But our weather is noting in comparison to the tornado year that folks in other parts of the country.   We see the devastation on the nightly news and it is just so hard to fathom.   Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.

Newsletters – If you have not already done so, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.  You do not need to worry about getting your email box filled up.  I am the only person here that does all the communications – tweets, blog, email, CRM, etc. – so I am lucky if I pull off one newsletter mailing per month.  Anyway, sign up!  If you are a reader of the blog or tweets, there will be a bit of information redundancy, but the newsletter remains the best place to hear about sales and discount offers.  Just head to any page on the site and look for the Mailing List feature at the bottom of the left-hand column.  There is a new one scheduled for 6/1.

Seed Saving and Sharing – This topic may seem counter intuitive to you.  That is, does it make sense for us to promote a practice that empowers people to raise heir own seeds?  Yes and no.  If we were motivated by financial gain (like big corporations) then it is absolutely self-defeating.  However, seed variety preservation is a work of passion.  It is what we feel is our mission.  Yes, seed sales is how we pay the bills and keep the lights on.  But more importantly, it is how we are able to continue to research and grow out rare, old varieties, get them into home gardener’s hands, and how we can work to help others do the same.

Case in point . . . One of our mission points is to support charitable works with our work.  A young project that we support is the Richmond, California Seed Lending Library.  Here is a link to a cool article about their program – click here.  Check out the cool picture :)

Well, no rain is presently falling here on the farm so I am going to grab a bite to eat and head outside to see what I can accomplish.

posted by Mike in Company News,Farm News and have No Comments

May Edition of the Victory Gardener’s Almanack

The Victory Gardener’s
for the month of May

May is the month when most of us all head into our main gardening season.  It is during this month that most vegetables can be planted.

In the Vegetable Garden

  • Set out tomato plants when evening temperatures stay above 50 degrees F.
  • Melons should be planted as soon as all danger of frost is past.  Plant extra seeds in the hill and cull as necessary.
  • Sow tender plants like lima beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, gourds, and squash after all danger of frost is past.
  • Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts can also be planted now.
  • Succession crops of radishes, lettuce and other greens can be planted for longer harvest times.
  • Every couple of days, loosen up the crust on  cucumber squash, and  melons to help the seedlings to emerge and to help prevent dampening off.
  • Rhubarb plants can use a heavy dose of composted manure.  spread around the plants and dig in well.
  • Eggplants and peppers can be set out later in the month in the North and earlier in the South.
  • Consider New Zealand Spinach as an alternative or adjunct to standard spinach.  It  does great in warmer climates and is a perennial in climates with milder winters.
  • If you are a beginning gardener, don’t just plant bush beans.  It is not much more difficult to cultivate pole-type or climbers and you will be rewarded with longer harvest periods and greater amounts for the same garden space.  Check out our trellising ideas on our Bean Page.
  • Witloof chicory can be planted early this month.  They will provide roots that can be used in the cellar for forcing in the Winter as a crop of ‘Belgium’ or ‘White’ Endive.
  • If frost threatens, cover tender plants with straw, buckets, or old blankets.  Make sure not to crush the plants.
  • Don’t forget to include kitchen herbs like thyme, parsley, sage, and mints.

In the Flower Garden

  • Nearly all varieties of flower seeds may be sown in the garden at this time.
  • Plants received by mail should be allowed to soak in water for several minutes and planted as soon as possible.
  • Shasta Daisies, Forget-Me-Nots and other “clumping” plants can be divided.
  • Dahlias should be divided and planted now.
  • Plant annuals in between your waning tulip and daffodil bulbs.
  • Do not remove daffodil foliage until after it yellows and begins to brown.
  • Before your sweet peas fall over, make sure that you have provide some form of support.

Trees & Shrubs

  • Now is the time to train evergreen shrubs like arbor viatae, hemlock, spruce and yew into shapes.
  • Mulch blueberry plants heavily with sawdust.  Douglas fir works excellent.
  • Mulching newly planted shrubs and trees with grass clippings, leaves, or peat to conserve moisture.  Newly planted roses, perennials, and fruit trees will also benefit from this practice.

Note:  This almanac page should be used as a general guideline of common garden tasks.  You should modify the list based on your specific geographic area.  For a very useful tool to aide in planning your garden, click here.

posted by Mike in Garden Almanac and have No Comments


It finally feels like spring has sprung here on the farm.  I have been stuck in the office way too much the past few days but am planning on getting out on the tractor in the early in the afternoon.

Catching up from last major entry, last week we did finish up planting all of the perimeter buffer trees that we are going to this spring.  We still have 100 four year old bare root Austrian Pine trees that we need to deal with.  After school, our youngest daughter has been working on getting them potted up and added to our tree nursery.  We will then keep them watered and growing through the summer with the plan of planting them late this fall when the rainy season starts again.  Every day is Arbor Day here.  That forestry science class that I took in high school all those decades ago was worth it (thanks Mr. Hicks!).

Part of routine maintenance here, although not particularly necessary for function, is keeping the perimeter fence lines mowed.  Because we are Certified Naturally Grown and use no herbicides, and since the perimeter of the farm is roughly a mile, equipment is important to accomplish the task.  Well, with the exception of the road frontage, the back parts of the farm have not been mowed since last fall.

With the hay growing like crazy, the grass was way too high for the riding mower and I didn’t want to take the tiller off the tractor to put the mower deck on so I got out the old standby – the vintage 1994 DR Brush Mower.

Circa 1994 DR Brush Mower

My Old Friend

I checked the oil, did a quick visual inspection (the belt was trashed but I hoped it would hold out), fueled it up, and headed out.  About 45 minutes later, I had made it to literally the point on the farm that is farthest from the farmyard.  And bam!  Not the belt.  The engine.  Good thing I am in pretty good shape because I had to push that heavy thing, with skinny tires, across a lot of soggy ground to get back home.  And as you probably guessed, a new mower is on the way and should be here in about another week.

Order Backlog – The order volume has dropped off to a point where we have no backlog and are able to mail them out within one to two days.  This is natural for us.  Seed sales are very cyclical.  Most folks get their gardens planned out and seeds ordered in the winter and early spring.  After that, we have a lull until it is time to plan the fall / winter gardens.  That is o.k. though.  This lull comes at the same time we need to get out and start planning out our own grow outs and preparing so we have things to offer you next year.

Availability Updates – I know that it is late in the season, but I did just update the inventory status of the following items:

posted by Mike in Company News,Farm News,Seed Variety Availability and have No Comments

My Office View and Thank You!

After a long day working outside, I packed up the family plus two workers who were here late, and we headed down the road to the local cafe for supper.  It was nice to unwind and visit as a family over a good meal . . . especially when there were no dishes to clean up afterward.

When we got back to the farm, the guys (son and both son-in-laws) headed to meet up with friends to play basketball.  I started to head out to the office to catch up on paperwork but it was so nice outside, and with rain forecast for tomorrow,  I grabbed the tractor key and a sweatshirt and hit the field.  I ended up tilling the gardens until 10:30 p.m. this evening.

Doing tractor work is one of those tasks that allows you to simultaneously work your mind.  It is kind of like time spent commuting.  And yes, I too once had a commute.  Commuting seemed like dead, wasted time.  But like this evening on the tractor, I always tried to make the time productive.

I started with going over the day’s accomplishments and what didn’t get done.  Then I started making a mental list of what I needed to get done this weekend and then I started thinking about the weather.  Then started watching the flock of birds that was following me around the field eating as I turned the soil.  Well you get the picture . . . my mind started to wander.  But that is o.k. once in a while.  It is like dreaming.  A necessary function.

And then, as I sat in the armchair that is my tractor seat, I looked up and took in the whole view as well as my situation.  And it was good.

My Office Window

My Office Window

It was like it just hit me.  After years working off-farm in a corporate, high tech career to pay the bills while we got the farm and the Victory Seed Company off the ground, I finally got my office with a view.  It is awesome and I am grateful and very appreciative for all of you that support our seed variety preservation work with your orders.  Your support directly allows me to work the soil, raise rare seeds and keep them available to gardeners.  I truly feel blessed and just want to sincerely thank you.


posted by Mike in Farm News and have No Comments

Click for Heirloom Tomato Seed Selection Save Seeds - Victory Horticultural Library - online tomato resources