Dunton Family Farm News

What's Happening Around the Farm as well as a Soapbox for head farmer, Mike Dunton

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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posted by Mike in Gardening Tips and have No Comments

July Edition of the Victory Gardener’s Almanack

The Victory Gardener’s
Almanacfor the month of July

Here in the United States, in the whole Northern Hemisphere actually, we have hit the peak gardening month. This is the time of the year when we are reaping the rewards of our Winter and Spring work. Some crops are peaking, some are done and ready to be removed to make room for planting your Fall garden.

In the Vegetable Garden

  • Plan and plant for a Fall harvest:
    • Plant your broccoli ten weeks before your first frost date. Because you are planting the seedlings while the summer days are still hot, mulch them to help retain moisture and to keep the soil cool.
    • Brussels sprouts are great for your Fall garden. The flavors are actually enhanced when harvested in the cooler weather. Start seeds in June and set plants out this month.
    • Start your cabbage and cauliflower plants six to eight weeks before your first frost date and transplant them into the garden after they have a couple sets of leaves. Like broccoli, they will need protection from the heat and sun and they need rich, fertile soil.
    • Sow turnips in the early part of the month to follow an early crop that is done.
    • Rutabagas, or Swedes, need to be sown twelve weeks before your first frost date. Plant in fine, loose soils and keep it moist. This allows the globes to form properly and prevent forking.
    • Mustard, radish, kohlrabi, spinach and lettuce can all be sown as close as four to six weeks before your first frost date. Just pay attention to the particular variety’s requirements.
    • It is not too late in most areas to sow a crop of shorter seasoned beans to be enjoyed as snap or green beans this fall.
  • When planting seeds in the middle of summer, remember that you may need to plant a bit deeper than normal since the surface layer of soil will dry out quickly.
  • Harvesting and processing of beans, carrots and cabbage is done now while a bit on the young side.
  • Side dressing heavy feeding plants like squash can be done by working well composted steer manure or compost.
  • While watering, use the time to inspect plants and remove any unwanted insects or egg clusters.
  • Where tomatoes are subject to sun-scald, pick the fruit as they first start to turn color and let them finish ripening indoors. Click here for more information about tomato problems and disease.

In the Flower Garden

  • Bachelor buttons can be helped to bloom a second time by removing about six inches from the tops of the plants and fed a manure tea. Delphiniums can also be encouraged in a similar way by first removing the old flower stalk.
  • Sowing fresh delphiniums and Hollyhock seeds now will give best germination results and provide nice plants for next year.
  • Planting columbine from seed can be done by pressing into the soil so that they are no more than 1/8″ deep. The seeds often take up to 4 weeks to germinate.
  • Transplant irises now by taking divisions from the newer or outside growth and immediately planting in the new location by covering the rhizomes with 1 to 2 inches of soil.
  • Cuttings of plants that will need to winter over in the house or greenhouse should be done now. Root clippings of geraniums, begonias, coleus, etc. in moist sand.
  • Roses should be thoroughly soaked once a week or as needed in very hot weather. Mulching is very beneficial.
  • Prune roses as soon as they are finished blooming.
  • Many biennial and perennial flower seeds do well if sown in the first part of the month.
  • Rock gardens require about as much watering during this time as any other part of the garden.

Trees & Shrubs

  • Lawns do better if allowed to remain at least 1-1/2″ tall. They will stay greener, resist weeds becoming established, and remain greener.
  • Remove suckers from any grafted shrubs or trees immediately as they appear.
  • Keep an eye out for marauding birds that can strip blueberry bushes, cherry trees and other berry plants. Mesh coverings, noisemakers, and reflective devices have varied levels of success.
  • The developing bunches of grapes can be protected by securing small paper sacks over them.

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

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!

posted by Mike in Company News,Farm News,Gardening Tips and have Comment (1)

Weekend Update

Just another quick update.  Last week the emphasis was on planting, watering and maintenance tasks.  Most things are in and we are late this year.  We had to adjust some planting schedules but we should be o.k. unless Mother Nature throws an early freeze this fall.

John spent Wednesday and Thursday setting posts for various trellis systems.  The majority of the posts are to accommodate the tomatoes.  The taller posts are for the pole beans and pea varieties.

Posts Set - 06/26/11

Posts Set - 06/26/11

This coming week, we will be working on the actual trellis installs.  We primarily use the “Florida Weave” method for tomatoes and are experimenting with a new method for pole beans.  More on that in a future blog post.

As we are approaching the month of July, make sure that you are signed up for our newsletter.  It will be sent out late this week.  If you are not yet signed up, click here to join our list.


Part of the reason we do what we do is to encourage and promote healthy living.  I ran across the following article that I thought was interesting.  Proof that gardening not only provides us with healthy food, but also is an activity that provides healthy exercise.

Reap the Benefits of Gardening:  Burn Serious Calories and Prevent Cancer” by The American Institute of Cancer Research:


By the way, if you have never heard of SparkPeople.com, check it out.  It is an awesome (and free) community for helping people learn about, monitor, and maintain health.  There are some really cool tools on there.

I have no connection with them other than I found them in January while looking for a tool to keep track of my caloric intake.  Their food tracker is accessible from both the web site as well as an app loaded on my smartphone.

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

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