Joseph Lofthouse

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since Dec 16, 2014
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Joseph Lofthouse currently moderates these forums:

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

To me, mowing the lawn is a high risk activity. Because I am very allergic to grass dust.

To me, weeding is a high risk activity. Because the soil dust makes me sick.

For decades, I have worn masks while mowing and cultivating. These days, I am reluctant to wear a mask while mowing or cultivating, because people might mistakenly believe that I am wearing it because of fear of a virus. I specifically refrain from wearing a mask in public to send a message of "chill out, viruses are normal and ordinary".

I believe that wearing masks harms people, by changing their blood chemistry. I believe that mask wearing harms us by reducing the amount of vitamin D and endorphins that our bodies can make from sunlight. I believe that mask wearing harms society by interfering with communication and primate social cues. I believe that wearing a mask separates us from our humanity, and animal nature. I believe that social distancing harms us by isolating us from each other. Far as I can tell, primates that aren't touching each other quickly succumb to loneliness and disease.

I believe that routine sharing of human symbiotic microbes is essential to proper health and vitality. Masks, gloves, sanitizing, and distancing interfere with that. I believe that it's very detrimental to us to be isolated from sharing our symbiotic microbes.  

One nice thing about the current social zeitgeist, is that it's helped me get really clear about what I value... I welcome touch, hugs, and kisses from any peaceful adult. The touch these days is much more heartfelt, sincere, and loving. Truly nurturing. I have determined that I'd rather live a short life filled with touch, than a long life of loneliness and isolation.

4 days ago

Ryan M Miller wrote:If the solution has the required pH of 13.5 to 14, the indicator should turn yellow-green to pale yellow when a few drops are added to a vial of the indicator.

A berry dye would only indicate if the solution is acid (pH 0 to 7) or basic (pH 7 to 14). It wouldn't indicate how acidic or how basic.
5 days ago
Around here, hardly anyone wears masks, except the employees of one grocery store. And they are wearing them so haphazardly, that they might as well not be wearing them. The use of masks by the employees and a few customers seems more like theater than protective.

My personal stance is that I will not spend my money or time at any establishment that requires masks.

If I feel any shame regarding mask wearing, it's putting on a mask to mow the lawn, or cultivate the garden. Because people might think that I'm wearing it due to hysteria about a remarkably average virus.

5 days ago

Mick Lowe wrote:Masa harina? Really intrigued? What is that?

Masa harina is a sublime gift from the ancestors.
5 days ago
So far this spring, the most vigorous population for me is the three species hybrid... Big Hill lycopersican, pennellii, habrochaites.  I'm currently at about 7 generations into promiscuous pollination. Makes it hard to provide a more accurate pedigree....
Doesn't look like a magnesium deficiency to me.

For fermenting vegetables, my standard ratio of salt to vegetables is 1 tablespoon salt to 1.6 pounds of vegetables. If I need to add more brine, it's the same ratio 1 tablespoon of salt to 3 cups of water.
1 week ago

Mark Reed wrote:I've found that I can select, push, cull, coddle and suggest all I want but the CORN, the weather, the soil, the critters, will decide the form whether I like it or not.  

Ha! I thought some years ago that I would breed a white flour corn. The corn was not at all happy about that. Therefore I have finally abandoned that idea. It can be any color that it likes. I'm still strongly suggesting that i'd like it to be a flour corn! LOL!

s. lowe wrote:I'm fairly novice to corn types, my goal is to make a locally adapted corn that I can use for tortillas and polenta. Will flint corn work for both of those or is flour corn typically used for tortillas?

Polenta (hominy) and tortillas are commonly made from flour corn. I have made both from flint corn, they end up being coarser textured. Polenta made from flint corn is quite dense and chewy. Polenta made from flour corn is softer, and often opens up during cooking. Flint corn causes more wear and tear on processing equipment. Flint corn is more resistant to seed predators both in the field, and during storage.

Culinarily, around here: Flint is used for porridge and grits. Flour is used for breads and hominy. Dent is used for animal food.

I've heard that flint, dent, and flour corn can be used as sweet corn, but I've never tasted any that I liked, nor caught them at a stage when they were good eating. I think that my local raccoons concur, because they leave the flours and flints alone, and go after the sweet corn.

I grow a grex of flint, flour, and dent corns. They end up with lots of intermediate types as well. My chefs will use it, but they prefer pure flints or pure flours.  It makes an adequate hominy. It makes wonderful animal food.  Makes it easier to be consistent with recipes if the chefs know what they are starting with.