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Photos of Joseph Lofthouse's Garden  RSS feed

 
Maureen Atsali
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I am super envious of that community support.  Very, very awesome.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Here's a photo from my greenhouse today. These are mostly tomato plants from the polyamorous and auto-hybridizing tomato breeding projects, so they are wild tomatoes, and crosses between domestic tomatoes and wild tomatoes, and grandchildren of the crosses. Etc. The bundle of sticks in the pot of water are grape cutting that I am rooting. I pruned the grapes yesterday, so figure that I might as well do something useful with the vines.

Also, a couple of species of micro-wildflowers are blooming.
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Polyamorous and auto-hybridizing tomato breeding project
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Micro-flower
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Micro-flower
 
Maureen Atsali
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What is the purpose of propagating the micro wildflowers?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Maureen Atsali wrote:What is the purpose of propagating the micro wildflowers?


The micro-wildflowers are weeds in my garden. They are flowering within a week or so of the snow melting. I try to take a photo of a new species of flowering plant every day of the growing season, and so since they were so early flowering they got their photos taken.  The one with the white flowers tasted very edible.

Today's flowers were a mystery plant, and violets. The violet flowers are also edible, and the lawn was abuzz with honeybees visiting the violets.

And, about 50 years ago my daddy and I planted hundreds of tree seedlings. This grove of trees is where they did best.



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Mystery blue flowers
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Violets
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Grove of Juniper trees planted about 50 years ago
 
Maureen Atsali
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Oh! I thought you were trying to cultivate the wildflowers in your green house! My mistake.  I remember eating wild violets when I was a kid.  I craved them!  Later I remember reading that they were a great source of vitamins, I think it was vitamin A in particular.  Funny that as a kid it was instinctual. I also remember my mother fretting and nagging that I would eat something poisonous and die!  Now I see my 2 year old putting various weeds and wild herbs in her mouth.  She discovered sorrel by herself and also favors a weed with little white flowers.  I don't know the name, but have noticed that the pigs also like it, and if you throw it in the fish pond, the fish also nibble on it.

Very fun to meet an adult who also tastes the weeds!
 
Rebecca Wooldridge
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Your white flower looks like it could be chickweed (stellaria media), an early spring edible. If so it should have five petals, each bisected so it looks like there are ten petals.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I had a lot of fun in the garden today. I planted. I weeded. I harvested. A friend stopped by for a tour.

I picked domestic and wild-crafted greens, and cooked them for supper. I posted a photo of the stir-fry I made from them in the thread entitled: If a vegan friend visited you today, what could you make for them? The harvest included: kale, spinach, turnip root, turnip greens, sunrooot, garlic, Egyptian walking onions, and wildcrafted greens: dandelion, chickweed (thanks for ID Rebecca Wooldridge), wild lettuce, mallow. This harvest is of huge significance to me, because it represents a vast shift in the way that I garden. Last summer, I became aware of the idea that I should be growing overwintering crops, so that I can harvest them first thing in the spring. Thanks Tom and Amber! So I put a lot of effort into that sort of scenario last fall. The result is that I harvested my first meal from the garden 2 weeks after the winter snow-cover melted. Only Two Weeks! This meal is also significant, because it represents a shift in my attitude towards intentionally growing wild greens. I'm intending to intentionally grow the wild-crafted weeds that I ate today. (Maureen Atsali, next year they will be intentional.) They are species that overwintered in the garden, and fed me my first meal of the spring. If they had overwintered in the greenhouse, they would have been feeding me a month ago. 

I dug the spring sunroots, and posted a photo of them in the thread: Sunroots For Sale: Genetically diverse. Prolifically Seeding. I'm very pleased with how the sunroot project has progressed. As a plant breeder, I move the sunroot patch every year, so that I can tell the difference between weeds and my new hybrids. Sure makes for a weedy mess. I put a huge effort last summer into taming some of the weediest areas. I was finding weedy tubers today while planting other things, but not near as many as in the past.

The tobacco plants really caught my attention tonight.



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Harvest on 2017-03-20. Domestic and wildcrafted.
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Tobacco plants.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My irrigation water won't be available until about 11 weeks from now. I am already planting my garden. I plan my work to take advantage of the natural rhythms of the farm. For example, about a week ago, the weather forecast started predicting rain for today, so I worked diligently to get the cold loving seeds into the ground, before the storm so that they can germinate with the rains.

I did my usual trick, and weeded before planting, and went back over the beds that were planted a week or two ago, but haven't germinated yet, and ran the hoe through them as well. I can weed after my crops are planted, but before they germinate. Just gotta pay attention and be careful with depth. This time of year, I really love weeding with a leaf rake. Disrupting small seedlings while not damaging larger things like onions, garlic, or peas.

We got a little rain overnight, with more expected for the next couple of days. And it sprinkled on and off all day. In other words, a cold, damp, cloudy muddy day. Perfect time to be transplanting something without irrigation!

A year ago, I gathered together whatever kale/cabbage type plants had survived the winter, and grew seeds from them. Last fall, I planted many thousands of the seeds, and sent them into winter as plants that were about 8 inches tall. Thousands of them died overwinter. However, hundreds of them survived, so today, since it was already cool, and damp with lots more cool and damp on the way, I dug about 100 of the kale plants and transplanted them into a field where they can make a seed-crop for me. I came home a gloriously muddy mess!!! The plants will thrive. And I got away with moving them in spite of not having irrigation available.

I am experimenting with  transitioning many of my crops to fall planting. Because I am already eating the fall planted kale months before the spring planted kale will be ready to eat. That seems prudent to me. To shift my food production so that some crops are producing food as soon as the snow melts. There are a few edible wild weeds that I intend to explore in this regard. I don't mind at all if I need to create my own winter-hardy varieties.




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Winter hardy Kale.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Heavy rains today (for this area), so here's a photo from the greenhouse.

I'm sure enjoying the auto-hybridizing tomato project. Most of these are inter-species crosses between wild and domestic tomatoes. 
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I love having a greenhouse.
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Auto-hybridizing tomato project
 
Joy Banks
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This thread is one of the most valuable things on Permies! Joseph, your approach to gardening, seeds, life... it's super-inspiring and freeing.  Love that you post so frequently and I hope you consider doing more interviews, or a podcast or something, cuz you've got a ton of knowledge and a great audio presence. Here's the link for the Seed Broadcast show in case others missed it:

Joseph Lofthouse's Seed Story  https://soundcloud.com/seedbroadcast/joseph-lofthouse-shares-a-story-about-land-race-farming-from-seed-to-food
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Thanks Joy. Yesterday, the local paper published an article about the seed swap I organized. My daddy and I were both interviewed.

Gardeners find something new at seed swap.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I've been conducting cold/frost tolerance testing on tomatoes this spring... I planted about 1000 tomato seeds into a flat, and allowed them to germinate in an unheated greenhouse. Then, I set them outside for about ten days. Most mornings have had frost on the ground. Some mornings, the leaves were frozen.  We've had radiant freezes on many nights,

Yesterday, I figured the testing was done, so I brought them inside. Took photos today. About 40 plants survived the freezing weather. I am thrilled. Four percent is great odds for a plant breeding project. Additionally, because I am growing varieties with a lot of genetic diversity, about half of the varieties had about one survivor. The vast majority of the survivors though were from a single variety.

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One tomato from this variety survived frost tolerance testing.
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One variety of tomato did excellent on frost tolerance testing.
 
Steve Bender
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Amazing stuff there Joseph. I planted corn yesterday about a month before anyone would normally even consider it around here. I figure if they fail, I'll be planting more soon anyway..
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I don't think of myself as an artist. However, I approach plant breeding, and farming more as an artist than as a scientist. I definitely don't take a mechanical approach to my work. Yesterday, I built a pea trellis woven with  branches pruned from the chokecherry tree. People have been calling it artistic. Ha!

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Pea trellis
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I sure love the Egyptian Walking Onions. It's less than a month since the winter snowcover melted, and they are ready to harvest.

The daffodils are beautiful this year.
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Egyptian Walking Onions
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Daffodils
 
Steve Bender
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I'd view the trellis as artistic. As well as what you do in the garden. And all the people on this board. large scale conventional farming is much less artistic, if at all.
 
Maureen Atsali
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I do believe that all farming is an art and a form of artistic expression.  The way in which you breed for specific traits, such as big blossoms or colorful fruits adds in a whole new dimension.

I can paint and sculpt, and grow... But building things of practical use seems to escape me.  The pea trellis is lovely.  It will be even better when its covered with peas and pea blossoms!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:About 40 plants survived the freezing weather.


After I brought them in, more than half of the survivors succumbed to the previous insults. So today I transplanted the remaining 15 plants into their own pots. They are looking healthy. I won't do any more frost testing on them this year. I'm intending to grow seed from them. A 1.5% survival rate pleases me a lot!!!

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
allowed them to germinate in an unheated greenhouse > set them outside for about ten days > brought them inside. About 40 plants survived the freezing weather.


When you say, "brought them inside", to where may I ask? Back in to unheated greenhouse?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:When you say, "brought them inside", to where may I ask? Back in to unheated greenhouse?


I moved them into the greenhouse. I've started heating the greenhouse at night, as necessary. And it has a lot of thermal mass in it now. So the low temperature is staying around 40 F or higher. And they are no longer experiencing radiant and/or evaporative cooling at night.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Just wondering if unheated greenhouse, to outside's freezing temps, to a now heated greenhouse was too much fluctuation. Your thoughts?

(P.S. You are an artist, with quiet an eye for beauty.)
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:Just wondering if unheated greenhouse, to outside's freezing temps, to a now heated greenhouse was too much fluctuation. Your thoughts?


It was too much for 98.5% of the plants. I think it was just right for the 1.5% of the seeds that survived those conditions. Those that survived are looking great! I put them out during a period of relatively warm night-time temperatures, and then watched them closely as outside temperatures got progressively colder over about ten days. When most were dead, but some were still alive, I ended the experiment. There is risk when doing frost testing that every plant will die. In that case there is no selection for frost/cold tolerance.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I follow your experiments in utter amazement. Well done brother Joseph! A tiny seed could one day save the whole human race. Quite a perspective, huh? I'd be willing to bet on a Lofthouse. 🌱 Tough little buggers!
 
Maureen Atsali
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Some day soon when I have more time and more seeds available, I would like to start replicating your frost experiments, but for heat and drought.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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The micro flowers you show in earlier posts, I agree that is chickweed and I believe that the other one is Veronica persica (Speedwell). The "mystery blue flowers" are beautiful. Any guess on what they are? They look lily-ish.
 
Steve Bender
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Joseph I'm intrigued by the cold tolerant tomato plants. I'm curios if you've worked with pepper plants the same? I have some small sweets one plant that survived the first two hits of frost(with damage) and I didn't consciously mark thesave seeds from that plant. I did notice though that the seeds from that line sprouted within days this spring. Long before most tomatoes planted the same time in the unheated greenhouse. I will have to pay closer attention in the fall and may you some trials next year...
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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It's been cold and rainy here. Perfect conditions for oyster mushrooms to be fruiting!!! Here's a photo of what I wild-crafted today.  My location is secret, like any good mushroomer, but check wooded areas with a lot of tree stumps or fallen logs.

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wild harvested oyster mushrooms: Pleurotus ostreatus
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Karen: Thanks for plant IDs.

Steve Bender wrote:Joseph I'm intrigued by the cold tolerant tomato plants. I'm curios if you've worked with pepper plants the same?


I haven't conducted formal frost tolerance tests with peppers, just growing them in my cold-nighted mountain valley. The sweet pepper seed may have got contaminated with hot peppers a couple years ago so I stopped working on peppers. This summer, I'm intending to plant all of my seed (thousands), as a direct seeded planting, to see if anything can grow that way.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I adore the taste of carotenes in my food.  I think food tastes better the more carotenes it contains.  If a species is capable of producing carotenes, and I can see them visually based on the color of the fruits or seeds, then selecting for higher carotene content is one of my primary selection criteria. My squash, and muskmelons are becoming more intensely orange with each growing season.

Some years ago, I got my hands on a South American corn that produces about 10X the beta-carotene of regular corn. I incorporated it into my breeding program, and started selecting for higher levels of beta-carotene in flint corn and in sweet corn. This month, my niece (thanks Emma!) fed some of the high carotene corn to her chickens, collecting the eggs and writing dates on them. Today she gave the eggs to me, so I cracked them open to see if the eggs that were produced after the hens started eating the high carotene corn would be more colorful. Sure enough!! See the following photo. (Before the start of eating the carotene enhanced corn, and after 4 days). The taste of the extra dark eggs was enhanced. I already mentioned that I adore the taste of carotenes in my food.

Regular corn (left) vs high carotene corn (right).


Regular sweet corn (top) vs high carotene sweet corn (bottom)
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Comparing eggs before and after feeding high carotene corn
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The turnip-seed crop started flowering a few days ago.

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Turnip-seed crop flowering
 
Mike Turner
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Your mystery blue flower posted back in March is Chionodoxa, common name "glory in the snow".
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Thanks Mike for the flower ID.

Here's what the cover crop in my squash field looked like today. It is a little over seven months old.  I'm expecting to till it under in a few days preparatory to planting.

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Overwintered cover crop
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Mixed species covercrop, 7 months old
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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This morning I'm loading plants into crates preparing for opening day of the farmer's market tomorrow. I'm really proud of how nicely grown the tomatoes are this year.

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Tomato transplants.
 
Maureen Atsali
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hope the market day was awesome! Can I ask how much you sell a tomato seedling for?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Maureen Atsali wrote: hope the market day was awesome! Can I ask how much you sell a tomato seedling for?


It was an awesome day at market. Yesterday when I was picking it was 85 F. Today it was so cold that the tomatoes were getting cold damaged. I wouldn't have put them on the truck last night if I had a crystal ball regarding weather. The cold and wind kept people away, but many came. It was great to see collaborators and friends after a long/lonely winter. Prices today were $1.50 per tomato plant. In about 2 weeks, I'll put them in bigger pots. Then they might be $2 or $2.50. If I end up putting them in gallon pots later on, I'll ask $5.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Here's what the flowers (huge) from one of the plants of the promiscuously pollinating tomato project looks like compared to the flower (small) of a domestic-like tomato.  This isn't quite the phenotype that I'm looking for (I also want an exerted stigma), but I really like the huge flowers. The children or grandchildren of the huge flower might have the traits that I am looking for. The huge flower and the small flower share a common ancestor a few generations ago.
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Panamorous tomato flowers
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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For the first time this growing season,  I did one of my favorite garden activities: Putting flags on my preferred plants in a breeding project. The first is my winter-hardy kale project... Two generations of this family have already survived the winter in my garden. The selection criteria on the kale was larger more leafy plants that were slowest to bolt.

I am also working on a project to create a winter-hardy short-season shelling pea that can be planted in the fall, and will produce dry-farmed peas the next spring while there is still residual moisture in the soil. This is the 8th growing season that I have been working on this project, and the first that may have produced the desired phenotype. (Won't know for sure until the seeds mature.) There were 4 plants, out of hundreds, that met the project criteria. I put flags on 3 of them, and accidentally yanked the 4th plant out while weeding. As I typically say, "Oops! sorry".
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Using flags to mark special plants in a kale breeding project.
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Winter-hardy shelling pea
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I pass this vista every time I bike to/from my fields... The local lore is that I can plant my tomatoes out when the snow on those mountains has melted.
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Wellsville Mountains, Hyrum Dam
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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When growing seeds for species that are prone to lodging, I like to wrap the stems around each other to create a self-supporting trellis. Here's what that looks like today with the turnips.
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Using turnip stems to make a self-supporting trellis
 
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