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

This trait is called andromonoecious: having a mix of male flowers and perfect flowers. While it's not common in watermelon, it is a known to occur in watermelon, cucumbers, and muskmelons. I wouldn't select against it. Seems like it may be a good trait to have in a population that was growing in an area where pollinators are sparse, or where there is a lot of rain that interferes with pollination.

At least for me, I tend to do very few manual pollinations. And of those that I attempt, it's rare for me to emasculate the flowers. I tend to just add pollen from the desired donor, and then screen among the children for plants that match the expected phenotype.

Andrew: Thanks. I love the flowers of Solanum peruvianum, and Solanum corneliomulleri, and some accessions of Solanum habrochaites. It's looking like plain old selection could dramatically improve the flavor and agricultural properties of the wild tomato species. Here's some photos of Solanum peruvianum. They are a bumblebee magnet in my garden, and highly attractive to other species.
1 day ago

Dave Burton wrote:Yeah, I'm not quite finding anything specific on exchanging chestnuts, but I'm sure something will come up eventually.

Facebook: All about Chestnuts
2 days ago

An inoculation strategy that I like, is to puree mushrooms in a blender, and pour the liquid over logs or chips. I expect stuffing mushrooms into slits in the logs will work fine. I'm not a fan of pouring wax into the logs. I just inoculate, and leave them alone.

3 days ago

I don't have a problem with cats shitting in the garden, because I don't pay attention, I don't notice, and even if I did, I wouldn't care. I would feel inclined to thank them for the fertilizer.
3 days ago
Even if the birdseed doesn't germinate, it's a great source of fertility for the garden. The microbes and insects will break it down into things that plants can use as food.

It's hatching day. About 36 hours earlier than expected...

Dave Burton wrote:How do you walk away and start a new life?

You ignore your fears, cultural conditioning, and counsel of your friends and family, and you go someplace else and do new things in new ways. If you do it enough, you learn to relish the adventure.
5 days ago

A few times in my life I have simply walked away from my previous life, and started a new one in a new place. A new life that more closely aligns with my core values. That sort of thing really works for me.
5 days ago