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

I was attacked by dogs twice this week while running. The first I saw coming from far away, so I simply out-ran it. The second was upon me before I even knew it was there. It gladly chomped down on the staff I offered it.
1 day ago

The zucchini might change color. It might not. Here's a photo of some of mine fully mature.

I recommend picking the squash rather than covering the plant. So much labor to cover, and results tend to be less than satisfactory, and this time of year the plants are shutting down anyway. You can leave the fruit at room temperature for months and the seeds will continue to mature, if they haven't already. My general attitude towards seeds, is that they are viable much earlier than we'd tend to expect. I like the fingernail test... If the skin has hardened, then I figure that so have the seeds.

I grew some plants this year that were naturally-occurring, indeterminate hybrids with Big Hill as the mother of the cross. I really enjoyed them.

Chris Kott wrote:Joseph, where did you get such an accurate portrait of me?

I used to be that guy, on the topic of Mormonism. LOL! Those were exciting times. Ultimately though, personal safety became more important to me.
2 days ago
I irrigate by sprinkler, typically no more than once per week. I don't apply mulches or composts to my garden. I plant seeds much deeper than recommended on seed packets. I stomp the row thoroughly after planting. I want to make sure that the seeds are firmly connected to the soil. In my climate, loose/fluffy soil dries out very quickly. Compacted soil holds onto moisture longer.

In my garden, the most damaging predator to seedlings are flea beetles. The damage looks like lots of tiny holes eaten from the leaves. 

Another strategy that I use for planting, is to put seeds in the ground the day before rainy weather is expected. By the time it clears up, many species will already be germinated.

2 days ago
I irrigate once a week. I apply an inch of water when I irrigate.
3 days ago

I'm working on picking a truckload of apples to make cider.

I'm working on picking squash. Cucurbita ficifolia closest to the camera, then Maximoss (moschata/maxima inter-species hybrid), then Mospermia (Argyrosperma/moschata inter-species hybrid). The photo shows how close the patches are to each other. I'm hoping that by planting them near to each other that some Maximoss X Mospermia.  3 species hybrids, might manifest. And I'll be watching the ficifolia to see if any naturally occurring hybrids show up

I love the giant sunflowers.

It looks delightfully beautiful to me.
3 days ago