Victory Seed Company News

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

Archive for the 'Gardening Tips' Category

Let Them Stand . . . Seedheads Feed Birds

This is the time of year that we are all busy cleaning up our yards and gardens and getting them ready for winter.  But if you can tolerate a little disorder in your landscape, I would ask you to consider letting some of your old flower stalks stand.

Beautifful Sunflowers in the Summer

Beautiful Sunflowers in the Summer

Although they may not be very attractive, your flower seed heads will attract and provide an important food source for overwintering and migratory birds.

Not as attractive in October, the seedheads are still beautiful in the function.

Not as attractive in October as they were in the summer, flower seed heads serve an important function of feeding overwintering and migratory birds.

 

A close up showing proof that the seeds are appreciated.

A close up showing proof that the seeds are appreciated.

So even if you look out the window and gaze out on your spent flowers, you probably will get a chance to watch flocks of birds enjoying your generosity.

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posted by Mike in Gardening Tips and have No Comments

Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds

This is just a quick blog entry to answer a very common question that we are asked . . . How do I save tomato seeds?   This really is a two part question that I answer with a qualifying Q & A followed by a description of the process that I use.

Firstly you need to decide if the tomato that you have in hand is actually worth saving.  If is it just some anonymous, generic tomato from the supermarket, it is likely a hybrid and unless it was super spectacular and you have about a decade of growing seasons to stabilize its genetics, it is probably a smarter use of your time to pass on saving its seeds.  Spend two bucks for a pack of seeds for next season.

If, on the other hand, the tomato is an older variety, an open-pollinated family heirloom-type and grown in relative isolation, then definitely go for it.  Saving seeds is what we are all about and I highly encourage folks to make the practice a routine to their gardening cycle.  Remember, saving seeds = freedom!

Hopefully you noticed that I included a reference to isolation in the previous paragraph.  Although there are folks out there that will tell you that since tomatoes have “perfect flowers” and that they don’t cross, as someone with experience in this area, I can assure you that they do.

There are many reasons tomatoes can cross, and yes I will agree that the instance is relatively low, but they still cross.  It is my opinion that if you are going to save seeds, you should strive for accuracy and therefore, do all that you can to replicate varieties true-to-type.   In the case of tomatoes, try and isolate varieties from each other by 15 to 20 feet with tall and / or flowering plants in between them.

O.k. – We got all of that out of the way and you have in your possession some tomatoes that you really like and that you want to grow in a future garden.  Saving tomato seed is not super difficult, and some folks simply squeeze some seeds out onto a paper towel, dry them down, and plant seeds with bits of paper and all.  But if you want the highest quality, professional grade seed for your personal seed bank, I would recommend making the effort to perform the fermentation process that I describe in detail on our informational website at http://www.vintageveggies.com/information/seedsave_tomato.html.  I just updated it today, cleaned up some of the wording and added large photos to make the process clearer.  Good luck!

Saving Tomato Seeds

Saving Tomato Seeds

posted by Mike in Gardening Tips and have No Comments

New Growth on Sage

I was just walking past this sage plant and snapped a picture on my phone.

It is a good illustration of how many plants benefit from pruning.  In this case, we snipped off the tips last week for a recipe and as seen in the photo, they not only regrow, they branch out.

So by pruning or pinching off the growing tips of plants, you can encourage plants to grow denser and bushier instead of tall and lanky.

Sage - Pinched Tips

Sage - With Pinched Tips Growing Back

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Independance Day, Bean Trellising & YouTube

It has been a flurry of activity around here since my last update.  As you can probably see in our various FieldCams, the hay has been baled and is presently stacked and awaiting pick-up.  Since we did get a good application of chicken manure spread this past fall, we got about a 70% increase in weight of hay produced this season over last.

The Fourth of July weekend was nice.  I hope that you had a good one.  Ours always starts in the morning with heading into Molalla for the annual parade.  It is a family tradition.  It is the typical rural, small town event that you see represented in movies.  Local businesses and organizations enter floats.  Rodeo princesses on horseback.  Clowns on motorcycles.  Marching bands.  A group of bagpipers.  Politicians.  Several firetrucks and police vehicles from local communities.  American flags everywhere and candy thrown to the kids.  Fun :)   And the weather was perfect this year.  Although we took the day off from work, we did do yard work preparing for our evening barbecue.

We have been spending most of the time outside watering, weeding and trellising tomatoes and beans.  In regards to the beans, we made a great discovery over the winter of a new method for stringing up pole beans.  My friend David Pendergrass of New Hope Seed sent me a link to a YouTube video made by a fellow name the “webcajun.”  He showed how he used horticultural netting (aka crop netting) as the support for his beans.  It was a revelation and changed our garden plans.

Post, Wire and Sisal Twine Bean Trellis Method

Post, Wire and Sisal Twine Bean Trellis Method

It is basically the same structure that we have always used (as shown in the old picture above) – poles with supporting horizontal wires – but this promised to be inexpensive and more importantly, significantly less time consuming.  Instead of manually weaving sisal twine up and down to form the vertical supports, horticultural netting to unrolled and fastened to the support structure.  What use to take us hours and even days, took us minutes.  If you are interested, we documented the task and published it as an educational video at – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZzMrFjSVkA.

Posts, Rope, Crop Netting Bean Trellis System

Posts, Rope, Crop Netting Bean Trellis System

On the subject of videos and YouTube, we finally got our YouTube Channel set up.  It is located at http://www.youtube.com/VictorySeeds/.

Please let folks know about it, subscribe to get notices of when we post new videos, and click on the like buttons if you find the videos helpful.  When you do these things, you are actively participating in our seed variety preservation work.  We have never had an advertising budget and have always relied on word-of-mouth recommendations and free exposure like YouTube.  Thank you!

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