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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Forums and Threads

Recent posts by Joseph Lofthouse

Corn is near the top of calories per acre, therefore, lets do some math...

Yield is about 1 Kg of dried corn per square meter. 3/4 Kg would provide me with the 2700 calories I need for a day. So I'd need 273 square meters to grow enough calories for myself for a year. (About 2900 square feet, or 0.07 acres). I can only grow one crop per year due to my climate. Other gardeners might could grow several crops per year of various species.

26 minutes ago
William: I grow two varieties of fennel. I realized this fall that one of them is perennial. I have tried tilling it under the past few years, and it just keeps returning.

I harvested around 30 sweet potato seeds this summer. Woot!!!
16 hours ago

Brian Rodgers wrote:Good morning Joseph
I'm interested in buying the Sunroot pack. What do I do?
Brian Rodgers

Thanks Brian: Please send payment to my PO box with a note regarding what you'd like. I am on so many forums, and people have so many pseudonyms, that I can't keep track of electronic communications.

One advantage to me, for planting garlic in the fall, is that soil is easier to prepare in the fall. In the spring time, it might be months after the snow has melted before the mud settles down enough that I could get into the field to plant. And in those months, the fall planted garlic could already be a foot tall.
"Tinkering with this site" is the home on permies for threads talking about how the site is run, censorship, moderation, being nice, etc. Those sorts of topics are basically not allowed in any other forum on the site.

Yes. I still have sunroot tubers available, but I didn't collect seeds this year. I have finally learned how to store tubers for a longer shipping window.

Sunroots are fully winter hardy in my USDA zone 4b garden, so they can be planted out any time that the ground isn't too frozen to dig a hole. Some people have reported problems with rodents eating them during the winter. And I wonder if the clay might be problematic and cause rotting. They store really well in the fridge in some dry-ish peat, etc..

2 days ago
I reviewed this thread, 4 years later. I just want to say that I am astonished at how much effort I put into growing mushrooms back then. Today my strategy is much simpler: I blend up whole mushrooms, with a bunch of water, and I pour the slurry over whatever I want to inoculate. It works great. My current oyster mushroom bed is wood chips on the ground, with logs stacked on top of that. I inoculate it whenever I have extra spawn. I add logs whenever they are available.
3 days ago
I grew up loving the taste of potatoes. Then I got married, and moved East to a big city. The potatoes there tasted horrid to me. They just didn't taste like potatoes. Ugh!!!

So a few years went by, and I went home. On the way, I stopped at a rest area, and when I got out of the truck, It smelled just like a good potato aught to taste! Ah tasty Idaho potatoes. So when I returned East, I pulled out the bag of potatoes, and it said, "Grown in Michigan". Ha! Since then, I have paid attention to the flavor profile of garden ecosystems. Soil is one component of a plants flavor.  It seems to me like plants that are stressed by lack of consistent soil moisture can turn taste much earthier. There are some plants (particularly brassicas) that are very difficult for me to grow properly during hot weather, due to the low humidity.

3 days ago

Whenever a new field is auditioning to be added to my farm, I taste the soil. If that flavor isn't something that I want in my food, then I won't farm on that field... Root crops plain old taste like the dirt they are grown in.
3 days ago
To follow up... About 8 months ago I planted hardy kiwi seeds from fruits obtained in my local grocery store.  They germinated quickly, and grew for the summer in pots, even though I didn't water them reliably. Today I transplanted them into a field in a clump. So we get to see if they truly are "hardy" kiwi. .

5 days ago