Joseph Lofthouse

garden master
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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 typically treat lambsquarters as eat-all greens. In other words, when the plants get about 6" to 8" tall, I pick the whole plant and eat it all. At that point, the whole plant is still young and tender. It grows prolifically in my garden, so I don't worry about harvesting older/tougher leaves or plants.

57 minutes ago

I used my favorite nutritional database to look up lambsquarters. For my weight/gender/etc the numbers look like this:
1 hour ago
I pruned grapes today. Then chopped the vines into pieces and put them into pots of sand. I expect some of them to root, so I can distribute grape vines to the community. This variety is Interlaken, a green seedless grape. They tend to thrive in the valley.

I think that our hives die overwinter because my family and our local community practice migratory beekeeping in Langstroth hives which are designed for the convenience of the beekeeper, and not for the health of the colony. So we restock each year with southern-adapted bees, that have been infected -- by their yearly trip to the almond orchards -- with a wide assortment of contagious ailments.

About a week ago, I drew up plans for a hexagonal warre style hive system. It is sized to use commonly available (usa) lumber dimensions. I would like to use a few of them for experiments in breeding locally-adapted honeybees. It's a tough project, cause even if I breed locally adapted queens, the community is still swamped with migratory southern-adapted drones.

I built a backstrap loom using sticks from the yard, and some old, stiff construction nylon. The nylon wouldn't stay knotted, so parts of the loom were falling apart from time to time as knots came untied. Lost the heddles at one point. Other loom parts like the bobbin and batten were made from a piece of cardboard.

I made a belt/head-band. And still have some yarn left over. Might use it as a braided fringe for the belt.

The properties of the magenta and teal wools were slightly different, so next time, I intend to not mix them randomly.
I have about 50% success with tree grafts... Not knowing what I'm doing, using the wrong equipment and supplies, at the wrong time of year, etc... That's fine with me. I do twice as many as I hope to end up with. If they all take, then that's just a bonus.
2 days ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I use "Minimize Electronics" rather than "No Electronics" because then I don't have to beat myself up if I cheat....

And furthermore, if I call it "Minimize Electronics" day, then it shuts people right down,  that want to belittle me for being a hypocrite or a sinner -- if I use a device on my off days.
3 days ago
Doing cold stratification on pollinated garlic seeds.

My experience with community, and local production, is that people do what they love doing, and share the results of their doing with their neighbors. If someone in the community loves grafting apple trees, and they graft a lot of them, and take them to the farmer's market, or take an ad out in the local paper, or sell them to local nurseries, or get a reputation, then other members of the community may buy and/or plant those apple trees. Some members of the local community may become enamored of grafting, and likewise start grafting trees.

I don't worry at all about creating or maintaining a social network regarding my walnut breeding program. I send walnuts out into the community. They grow or die. People come and go. I watch the ecosystem in my community, and when mature seed-bearing walnut trees show up, I bring the nuts to my farm to start the next generation. Doesn't matter to me if they are descended from my trees or not. They are walnuts that produce seeds in our climate. That's the primary selection criteria right now.
3 days ago