Victory Seed Company News

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

Quick Update . . . And Big News

Just a quick farm update . . . We went from freezing weather to summer temps in three days.  It has been a nice week.  Plants in the greenhouses are a little on the small side but getting close to being ready to set out.  Ground is tilled.  May start planting by the weekend.

This year planting will be without the help of our son John – the first time since he was a young boy.  He is off at college finishing up his senior year, preparing to graduate in a few weeks, and getting married towards the end of summer.  He is planning on coming back to work here with new knowledge, some different work experiences, and (hopefully :) ) enthusiasm.

Today, after wrapping up office and order fulfillment related tasks, I got outside and worked on brush mowing around the trees along the perimeter.  With that accomplished, I turned my focus towards putting the finishing touches on the drip irrigation system.  Last year, we recruited the help of a young cousin to basically work all summer hand watering the recently planted trees to keep them alive.  This summer she wants to start helping with the seed crop work.  Hence the irrigation system.  Hopefully I have it figured correctly and the survival rate of this year’s planting will be high.

Visit us at booth 908

If you are an longtime supporter and have followed along with what goes on around here, you know that we have basically relied on your word-of-mouth recommendations as our primary form of  “advertising.”  With little in the budget for outreach, you telling your friends and neighbors about us, mentioning us in your blog or Facebook posts, or even writing the gardening editors of your local newspaper is still very important to us – and we greatly appreciate your efforts at promoting us.

But we are going to try something new (for us anyway) . . . this is the “big news” mentioned in the header above (yes, John graduating, getting married, and coming to work full-time here is pretty big too :) ).  We have decided to exhibit at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington on June 2-3.   This event is just too close to home to not be a part of it.

The Fair is not a garden show.  Like Mother Earth News magazine’s content, this is shaping up to be a very cool mix of sustainable lifestyle related information.  There are tons of workshops, lectures and exhibitors.  I am getting excited (and a bit anxious) thinking about it.

You can learn more about what is being offered by clicking on the picture or by visiting the main web site at www.motherearthnewsfair.com.  If you are planning on attending, do stop by booth 908 and say hello.  If you have not already purchased your tickets, I have a small supply of $10-off coupons.  Email me if you are interested in a coupon . . . I will be sending them out on a first come, first served basis until the supply is exhausted.

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

Garden Time

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere of the planet, it is not quite time to get out and start digging and sowing in the garden.  On nice days like we had here on the farm this morning, there are always garden related tasks that we can steal away to.  This morning we got some of the flower beds around the house cleaned up . . . weeds hoed out of the bark, various leaves, twigs and other debris raked up, etc.  But the greenhouses sit empty and the fields fallow.

However, we all know Tempus fugit, and it will not be long before we will be in the full swing of gardening.  What does this mean right now?  It is time to plan!  I have not started to actually lay out our gardens, but I have been figuring out the list of what things I need to be growing out to replenish stock as well as the new varieties that I want to trial.

For the home gardener, this is the perfect time of year to review your gardening notebooks from past years, noting your successes and failures, your favorite varietiess, and getting your seed orders submitted.

I can tell you that as I write this entry, we have no work backlog and are getting orders filled and mailed within a day or two.  Those of you that have been supporting our seed variety preservation work with your orders over the years know that we can get busy the closer we get to planting time.  This is just a heads up to folks who are in a position to take advantage of the slow time.

And once you do get your list of seeds made and ordered, there is still more planning you can do to be prepared for gardening time.

1)  You can start getting your pots cleaned and organized.  Most folks skip this step and I admit, I can be lax on this point when time is a factor.  But if you are ahead of the game, take the time to put a little chlorine bleach in a five gallon bucket of water and dip each old pot.  It is just another precautionary measure to help prevent soil borne diseases.

2)  Buy fresh seed starting potting mix.  This is actually pretty important.  Old potting soil will likely have lost any nutritional value that it might have had.  And depending on how and where it has been stored, it could be harboring insects and disease.  You want to give your seeds and seedlings the best possible conditions that you can in order to improve your odds of success.  A good, organic, sterile, seed starting mix is a good investment.

3)  Get your garden journal ready.  This is nothing fancy.  I use a three ring binder with clear plastic sleeves to store things like seed packets, garden layout drawings, and blank pages for keeping notes about things like weather, the emergence of various pests, when things were sown or planted, first maturity dates, harvest dates, what inputs were applied and overall summaries of how each variety fared.  This is great data to review when planning each future garden.

4)  Set up your seed starting location.  I have a small cabin on the farm that I heat and move a shelving unit into that I attach lights to.  If you use a spare bedroom, heated greenhouse or potting shed, etc. , now is the time to get an area cleaned up and ready.

5)  Draw up your garden plan!  I actually measure out the space and on graph paper, draw my gardens to scale.  It takes a bit of time up front, and I have been known to change my mind a bit when we actually set to planting, but I would never head out to a fresh garden space without one.

It would be like a painter starting a painting on a fresh canvas without the first thought or prior sketch of what they were about to paint.  Yes, they might end up with something beautiful, but you an bet there would be many revisions and a lot of wasted time and materials.

Plan!  Draw the outline of the space.  Make a reference to where south is and where the sun will be at the peak of your gardening season.  Use your list of seeds to decide where they will best thrive and remember to consider their height and girth at maturity when assigning them their locations.  If you are a seed saver, this is also a good time to consider isolation distances.

These are the types of things that we can actually control in our explorations into gardening and food production.  Of course, nature always has a few surprises to throw at us over which we have no control, but by planning and working with our knowledge of how nature typically acts in our location, we stand a good chance of achieving some level of gardening success.

And in closing on this subject of garden planning, the following is a news segment from a Eugene, Oregon television station.  It offers some tips and we really like the seed choices that the garden writer made :)

posted by Mike in Company News and have Comments (2)

Hay Time on the Farm

Things are going (and growing) well here.  Although the weather was cool and wet most of this week, it was absolutely perfect today.  Along with continuing the work of trellising up tomatoes, we worked on landscape related duties.

In the late morning, I noticed that a tractor showed at the south field gate.  It was part of the haying crew preparing to start mowing.  I immediately switched gears, got the brush mower, drank a bottle of water, ate a bite and hit the field.  I needed to finish getting the line mowed between the hay and the trees so that the hay crew would not slip up and cut down trees.  It took me a couple of hours but I got finished just before they started in mowing.

Mowing the North Field

Mowing the Hay in the North Field

Along with the areas of the farm dedicated to seed production, we also have many acres in grass hay.  The biggest field was planted into tall fescue in 1961 and is still producing well.  The bottom field, the one in the picture above, is one of our old pastures from back when cattle was raised here.  It consists of many different grasses.

The hay we raise is does several things for us.  It is a low input crop requiring only an annual application of fertilizer.  In our case, since we are a Certified Naturally Grown farm, we use chicken manure to feed the grass.  Keeping the land in hay helps to keep it healthy, productive and the weeds at bay.  As a bonus, the annual sale of the hay helps to pay the bills!

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posted by Mike in Farm News and have No Comments

Summer is Here?

We went from cold, wet weather (that felt like winter) to Summer overnight here in the Northern Willamette Valley.  This happened on Friday and Saturday.  By yesterday (Sunday), the clouds started coming back in and it is considerably cooler today.  The nearly 90F temps on Saturday, combined with a breeze, allowed me to get the small tractor and tiller onto about 75% of the field yesterday afternoon.  And although there were serious thundershowers last night in our area, we were spared.  I will get the remainder of the field tilled today.  The rest of the week looks overcast with a chance of showers and highs in the mid-60s.  Frustrating for a farmer but nearly identical to the hand we were dealt last year.

Small orders are still trickling in (Thank you!!!) and we are able to get them quickly mailed out.  Typically we are sending them within one business day.  Folks here at the Victory Seed Company are taking advantage of this slow time for early vacations and catching up on home maintenance tasks.

Thursday we are moving our son back home from college for the summer and starting first thing Saturday morning, we plan to focus on planting.  So far the forecast looks promising.  The plants in the greenhouse are holding out but they are beginning to look a bit stressed and need to be out in the ground.

Not a lot else to report.  Blog posts may now start to be more sporadic than normal as I am required to spend less time in the office and more time out in the fields.

posted by Mike in Farm News and have No Comments


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