Dunton Family Farm News

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

The Top Ten Easiest Plants to Grow From Seed

If you have never gardened or have never tried starting plants from seeds, here is a list, with links, to the ten easiest plants to grow from seed.   This list is not just our picks.  They are based on a poll of the membership of the Home Garden Seed Association.

All of these types of plants can be sown directly into the garden which means that you don’t have to take the extra step of starting them in pots indoors.  All germinate quickly and easily and most mature fast as well.

posted by Mike in Gardening Tips and have No Comments

How to Know When to Sow

I get asked this question on nearly a daily basis.  And frankly, there is not one easy answer to give.  There are just so many variables involved.

You need to realize that nearly all gardening models and methods are an unnatural act!  They are an attempt by us humans to control and modify the very design of the natural world.  That is, we are trying to lord over nature.[1] Don’t believe me?  Stop doing any gardening or yard work and see what its natural state reverts to in one year, five years, or longer.

I suppose that the logical starting place for answering this question is to determine the specific germination and cultural requirements for the plant variety you are interested in growing.  Learning where various plants originated from is a useful bit of knowledge for a gardener to possess.  For example, if you know that watermelons originated in Africa, you can make a very good guess that they require heat to thrive.  More information on vegetable origins can be found by clicking here.

You will also need to consider things like your local climate – both reviewing the historical weather information as well as monitoring and understanding the patterns for the current season.  This is the “art” side of gardening.  Although you can use scientific data to help you form an educated guess when finalizing your plans, you ultimately have to learn to take your queues off of nature and use your gut.  It is a learned skill, based on instinct, that agriculturalists have practiced since the beginning and that no one fully masters in a lifetime.

Some useful tools to aide you in planning your planting dates include following the instructions on your seed packets, review your garden logs from past years (You do keep a garden log, right?) reviewing the historical average first and last frost dates for your area, and understanding the optimum germination temperature[2] for the types of seeds that you are sowing.  The following link will lead you to a general planting guide table, but if you would like a more practical, portable tool, check out “Clyde’s Garden Planner” which we now offer on our main store site.

Raising a successful and productive garden does require study, knowledge, preparation and planning.  Start with your garden plot drawing, the list of the things you want to grow, use the information and tools presented above, and decide what you want to plant on what days.


1.  The exception would be foraging, nature crafting or even permaculture.  All of these methods are useful skills and require less effort on your part for the production part of the food cycle.  However, there is a reason that agriculture has evolved over the past several thousand years.  By focusing efforts on raising produce, harvests are easier, more predictable, and more abundant than foraging and gathering what nature may produce in any given year.

2.  Soil temperatures are very important for successful seed germination.  You can purchase very inexpensive temperature probes at your local garden center or hardware store.

posted by Mike in Gardening Tips and have No Comments

Spring Tomato Sowing Begins

I am just trying to get a feel for how much (or how little) to blog about.   I don’t want to be underwhelming or the opposite.  With many decades of experience under my belt, I know that I cannot make everyone happy all of the time, but it is am my nature to try.  I am continually looking for balance in all things.

I suppose I will just write this as if it were a personal journal of the events and occurrences happening here on the farm and at the Victory Seed Company.  I suppose a little personal life is bound to creep in . . . since our seed preservation, historical research, farming and family are all completely intertwined and inseparable, it is unavoidable.  So, if the post happens to hit some chord within you, keep reading.  If it seems boring or irrelevant to your interests, hit the back button on your browser. No harm, no foul.


John has been home from college this week for Spring Break.  It has been nice to see him and to get his help on various little projects around the place.  Today he and little sis worked on getting our tomato seeds sown.  This is about two weeks earlier than I like to get started but it is the only chance I will have the help.

Earlier this week, he and I decided that we (well I will since he will be back at school) would open up about 1/3 as much land, converting it from hay production to growing space.  This will allow us space to increase both the quantity and number of varieties we can grow this year.  Like ever decision we make in life, there are consequences.  In this particular case, it means that I am over capacity in our current greenhouse and need a bigger space.

Last night I was chatting with a buddy of mine, David Pendergrass (owner of New Hope Seed), describing the situation, and he sent me a link to a greenhouse company in my backyard.  So I will contact them next week and see if there is a chance of getting a new structure installed here in the next couple of weeks.  If it works out, this may be the stepping stone necessary to fulfill we are always getting from our local customers – a place to come and purchase tomato and other plant starts.  Don’t get too excited, this won’t happen in time for this spring’s planting, but perhaps we will be ready for next year.

posted by Mike in Farm News and have No Comments

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