Joseph Lofthouse

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since Dec 16, 2014

Joseph Lofthouse grew up on the farm and in the community that was settled by his ggg-grandmother and her son. He still farms there. Growing conditions are high-altitude brilliantly-sunlit desert mountain valley in Northern Utah with irrigation, clayish-silty high-pH soil, super low humidity, short-season, and intense radiant cooling at night. Joseph learned traditional agricultural and seed saving techniques from his grandfather and father. Joseph is a sustenance market farmer and landrace seed-developer. He grows seed for about 95 species. Joseph is enamored with landrace growing and is working to convert every species that he grows into adaptivar landraces. He writes the Landrace Gardening Blog for Mother Earth News.
Farming Philosophy
Promiscuous Pollination and ongoing segregation are encouraged in all varieties. Joseph's style of landrace gardening can best be summed up as throwing a bunch of varieties into a field, allowing them to promiscuously cross pollinate, and then through a combination of survival-of-the-fittest and farmer-directed selection saving seeds year after year to arrive at a locally-adapted genetically-diverse population that thrives because it is closely tied to the land, the weather, the pests, the farmer's habits and tastes, and community desires.
Joseph lives under a vow of poverty and grows using subsistence level conditions without using cides or fertilizers. He prefers to select for genetics that can thrive under existing conditions. He figures that it is easier to change the genetics of a population of plants than it is to modify the soil, weather, bugs, etc. For example, because Joseph's weeding is marginal, plants have to germinate quickly, and burst out of the soil with robust growth in order to compete with the weeds.
Joseph is preserving the genes of thousands of varieties of plants, but does not keep individual varieties intact or pure. The stories don't matter to him. What matters is the web of ongoing life. For his purposes a squash is a squash is a squash. Plant purity doesn't exist in Joseph's world, other than in very broad ways like keeping hot peppers separate from sweet peppers. Some landraces might even contain multiple species!
Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Recent posts by Joseph Lofthouse

For my cuttings, I like to use 100% sand. That seems to provide much better results for me than anything containing soil or coir.

I might use rooting hormone. I might not. Sometimes, I might just stab a whole bunch of cuttings into a spot where I want a new plant to grow in the clay-ish soil. Once in a while one of them will take.
I know people, who get quite annoyed about having a hen that constantly wants to be broody. It's often easy to convince them to sell her. Buying a $10 broody hen represents one of the highest Return-On-Investment decisions that I ever made.
1 day ago

Kai Walker wrote:Should I footnote everything from now on?
Does make for a lot of work on my part.

Basically, we don't like quarreling about "scientific" papers. Cause for every paper that someone cites, there may be another that says the opposite. I recommend avoiding "Appeals to Authority" to show that someone is wrong.

"Truth telling" really isn't what this site is about. We are more about sharing our personal observations in the real world.

William Schlegel wrote:Wonder if there might be a grant source that would let you use marker assisted selection to clear the unwanted trait from the population. Or if that would even work. Maybe we should ask Carol what she thinks about the problem.

I'm having conversations with a genomics fellow on this very topic. Seems like a very possible way to select against self-compatibility. The responsible genes are known.

Culling the self-compatible plants has been straight forward. They set an abundance of fruit starting with the first flower cluster.

The self-incompatible fruits tend to not set fruits on the first few flower clusters, until the bumblebees really start working the flowers.

The domestic tomatoes had 3 bottlenecks during domestication. Combine that with the ongoing selection for purity (inbreeding). The end result is that domestic tomatoes have shed something like 95% of their genetic intelligence about how to deal with ever changing climate, soils, insects, blights, etc.  One study I read indicated that they found more genetic diversity within one accession of wild tomatoes, than within all accessions of domestic tomatoes in the study.

John Weiland wrote:From your reading, Joseph, is the self-incompatibility locus/loci going to be dominant and pretty straightforward or is it more complex?   Should be some interesting progeny from all of this!.....

I haven't found much to read about this topic other than what I have written myself, so here goes....

Based on what I am observing in the field. The self-incompatibility trait seems to be dominant. From a plant breeding perspective that is a bit troublesome. It is easy to select for recessive traits, because once you do the selection, it is permanent, until the plants are crossed again. When trying to select for a dominant trait, there is always a little bit of the recessive trait hanging around, waiting to show up in later generations. The most common way around that is to self the plants then grow out enough to determine whether the mother contained the recessive trait. That method isn't available in a self-incompatible population. I'm still fussing about how to deal with the recessive selfing trait. Might end up just doing selection year after year to cull the self-compatible plants as they show up, diminishing the chances of self-compatibility year by year. We put a lot of effort in over the winter into selecting for  promiscuous flowers, and for plants that acted like they were self-incompatible. That work will be ongoing this summer.

There are a lot of different genes controlling flower shape and thus promiscuity. Some are recessive, some are dominant, some seem co-dominant. Again, it just seems like a process of constant observation to select for promiscuous flowers, and to cull flowers that would be more suitable for selfing.

I'm finding plants that combine self-incompatibility with closed up flowers. That's not a good combination for survival. If they don't self-eliminate, I'm culling them.

Tomatoes that are self-compatible with promiscuous flowers would be a wonderful improvement over the ever more inbred varieties that people are currently growing. So I may spin off some of the self-compatible tomatoes into other projects.

One thing that has startled me about this project, is how susceptible the wild species are to plain old domestication. There is so much diversity within them, that it's simple to select for larger fruits, better flavors, and local adaptation, even without crossing with domestic tomatoes.
Short one or two line posts burn up a lot of staff time, and don't contribute much information to a thread.

It would really help us in the short term, if you could limit your posting to a few substantial posts per day. Tell us about the permaculture projects that you are doing. Avoid mentioning how other people are doing them wrong, or questioning their reasons.  

Rez Zircon wrote:"Fairy Hollow" looks interesting to those of us who dislike "tomato snot" (the clear goopy stuff).

Yup. And it might have utility as a paste tomato. It was very prolific, so I shared the seeds widely. No telling what interesting things might come from the Fairy Hollow family.