Joseph Lofthouse

master steward
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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

Here's a photo of a corn plant from my garden. Notice that the tassel is well grown, and the cob, in the node near my toe, is just starting to grow.

Su Ba wrote:I've never had much luck using small potatoes for seed use. They don't seem to produce nearly as much or as well as when I use larger seed potatoes.

That is also my experience. I observe that the larger the piece of seed potato that goes into the ground, the faster the plant gets established, and the more food it produces.
I don't see evidence of mineral deficiencies in those corn plants. They look normal to me. I don't expect the ribs on corn leaves to have chlorophyll. The total lack of chlorophyll in one plant is a common occurrence. Something was genetically wrong with the embryo. I tend to attribute the white/green striping to genetic issues, not nutrient deficiency. Purple coloration in corn leaves is common in my garden if the plants get exposed to low temperatures. Some plants have purple leaves as a genetic attribute.  

I live in a low humidity, high-altitude desert. I water once a week, whether the plants need it or not.

4 days ago
I've lived in a few intentional communities. Visited many. It's about like marriage. Some work really well. Others are really sucky!

Kevin Vernoy wrote:Are there any soil-chemists here? After a lot of online research, I'm still confused and here to ask: Is there a method of determining the resulting pH after combining two soils of equal mass and density but with different known pH values?

I worked as a chemist for 20 years before I returned to my roots as a farmer...

It can't be calculated, it can only be measured after the fact. If you used the same starting ingredients every time, you could come up with a recipe, but the first time the recipe is made, the resulting pH would need to be measured. Something like soil has too many complex chemistries occurring to reduce it to an equation. Soil testing companies are fond of generic recipes. They tend towards average conditions for average soils. The generic recipe might be way off for particular soils.

1 week ago
Seems like normal growth to me.

Huxley Harter wrote:That works out to .4 lbs per bird per day so that should be reasonable.

Timber Creek Farm says that "A well known ballpark figure for estimating purpose is 1/4 pound of feed per chicken per day".

Free range chickens might need considerably less than that.
1 week ago
5 bags of feed. Rationed over 14 days is 1/3 of a bag per day.

1 week ago
Bees forage over an area that extends several miles from the hives (>20,000 acres). They do most of their foraging over the closest 2000 acres. Compared to the area they range over, you don't gain much forage area by placing multiple apiaries on a 100 acre parcel. (An apiary in each corner of a square hundred acre lot would increase the primary forage area to 3000 acres.) Locating them next to a reliable water source will minimize the amount of time they spend carrying water.  

The number of colonies that an area can support is highly dependent on disease pressures in an area. To most closely mimic wild population densities, and minimize disease sharing, you might consider putting only 1 colony in each of the 4 corners of the parcel. Another way to make the hives less likely to share disease is to paint geometric designs on them, and point the entrances outwards in all different directions (circle).

The amount of forage available to bees has a huge impact on how many colonies an area can support. Wild pollinators, and the neighbor's honey bees are also competing for resources. Around here, the commercial beekeepers limit apiary size to about 20 to 30 colonies with a few miles between apiaries.
1 week ago
I live in a basin and range high desert. The basins are characterized by silty soil. The ranges are characterized by bedrock close to the surface. Most of my food production happens in the basins with irrigation that is captured from the ranges during spring snow-melt.

High elevation and low humidity means intense sunlight during the day, and intense radiant cooling at night. The September monsoons trigger frost, so warm weather crops are essentially done by the time the fall monsoons start. I couldn't depend on seeds grown in warmer, moister, lower elevation locations, so I ended up growing only my own varieties which have been aggressively selected by the weather, bugs, soils, and farmer, to thrive on my farm. One area in which I am focusing a lot of attention is on winter-hardy vegetables that can grow during frosty weather from September to May. That's our wet season, even if 5 of those months the crops are covered by snow. Some things still grow, even under the snow.    
1 week ago