Dunton Family Farm News

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

Nice Weather = Busy Mike

Here in Oregon, when the weather is nice, we have to take advantage of it.  I apologize for the lack of tweeting and blogging but with working outside as much as I can, it is all that I can do to keep up with necessary paperwork, CRMs, and email.  And here I sit, midday, in the office, blogging :)

Not for long though.  It is still nice outside – actually beautiful and sunny – and so I am heading back out into it.  This stretch of nice weather is forecast to end on Friday so I will catch up with office work then.

Yesterday I got about an acre of ground tilled up.  It was the second pass.  About 1/3 of the area I did as been in hay since 1961.  That is, it has been lying fallow my whole life and should be a nice, fertile area.  The only issue is that it is well established sod so will take another couple of passes with the tiller before planting.

This afternoon I am back out to the tree planting project.  I have 210 more Austrian Pines that I need to get either in the ground of potted up.  They are bare root and I have them banked in using potting mix.

I did get all of the tomato seedlings potted.  I finished up on Saturday.  I am about two weeks behind on that task so they are a bit on the small and scraggly side.  However,  just in the few days they have have room to stretch  their roots in pots and have been in the warmth of the greenhouse, they look a lot better and are growing.  I don’t yet have a final count on the number of plants or number of varieties.

Sunday I spent the whole afternoon and into the last bit of dusk, mowing.  My Dad usually keeps up with that ( I am sure not something he planned doing in his retirement).  But he is on vacation with my Mom visiting my sister in Illinois.  So, I mowed.  Like tilling, mowing is one of those jobs that requires two hands and just the littlest amount of brain power.  That leaves a lot of capacity in the noggin for planning, day dreaming, etc.  I actually look forward to those times as they are relatively rare for me.  Anyway, things looked pretty nice around here for a day or so.  Probably should mow again tomorrow before the rain starts in again.

Out in the seedhouse, the crew is cranking out orders pretty much within a day of receiving them.  So now is the time to order if you need something relatively fast.  Don’t forget that we also have a pretty good line of old-time, nostalgic candies and gum.  The quickest way to find them is to go to www.victorysweets.com.

That’s it from the farm.  I hope that all is well in your neck of the woods.

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

More of the Same

Man I can’t get warm!  It is so cold and wet here and all of the immediate tasks that I need to get done are outside.  It has poured with few breaks, has been in the 30s in the past 24 hours, and a few minutes ago, proceeded to hail and knock blossoms off of the fruit trees that are in bloom.

Pile of Hail - April 28th

Almost May and we are getting temps into the 30s and hail.

But all this is nothing compared to the horrific and devastating outbreak of tornadoes that are hammering the Southeastern United States.  My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

After working in the office in this morning, I resumed my work in the potting shed.  I am now about two-thirds of the way done and will finish up with the tomatoes tomorrow.  Not the best looking plants to say the least.  I am tardy in getting the seedlings potted up and the cold weather is not helping any.  I also sure wish that I had gotten that big new greenhouse built in time for this season.  My poor little greenhouse is already packed.  I am going to have to clean out the potting shed and utilize that (less than optimum) space as well.  I just hope that things dry out and we can get plants in the ground early this season.

That is about it from the farm today.

posted by Mike in Farm News 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

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