David Joly

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since Jul 26, 2016
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Saint-Didace, Québec, Canada (Zone 4)
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Recent posts by David Joly

I'm also in Canada (Québec) and find it difficult to find and buy scythe stuff. I got mine (aluminium american snath and 28" blade) few years ago at my local hardware (rural) store. Maybe you can check locally in stores where you can find stuff for small farm, they may have some.

The only canadian scythe shop is ScytheWorks and has european scythe, so it's hard to find accessories for american scythe. Even finding good whetstone is complicated without paying very high shipping cost. However, it seems that almost every old barn/farm has a scythe and few blades, so you may have some luck finding one in good condition and restoring some blades. I found a nice 30" blade for 10$ and I like it. I'm now looking for a short bush blade and a spare wooden snath.

I also found on ebay a russian scythe made by Arti. I'm slowly learning to peen it and to sharpen it. The sharpening of the blade and my technique still need much more improvements for this tool. I'm not sure yet if I like it or not, but I'm working on it. My american-style blades feel much more sturdier.

And Benjamin, I can't wait to see your future two-part breakdown snath ! Would it be similar to the "Oregon snath" ?

1 year ago
Oh ! That is a very kind offer !

I am in Quebec, Canada, about 100 km north of Montréal. We have long and cold winters (we had some nights at -30 F to -33 F last winter) and my site is quite windy. We had some luck with few cultivars from Minnesota (Haralson, Red Baron, ...) ; some spots are more wet where trees seem to have trouble last fall even on Bud 118 (last fall was unusually hot, and cold came very quickly, most trees keeping their leaves all winter ; I suspect that trees on wetter sites were still growing too late and did not have enough time to harden for the winter), but seedling Antonovka rootstock did not have any damage on these wetter spots. I also plan to try various seedlings there. We also a small spot that is sometimes flood for 1 or 2 week in the spring (it is next to a stream) ; some seedlings have no problem there, other cannot support it.

For these more tough-to-grow spots, I'm trying various seedlings and I would welcome genetics from your seeds !

I would be interested to try "Little Yummy" seeds. That seems to be interesting for cider and I like that it has some "thorns" during the juvenile phase (that sounds like good self defense against herbivores !). I would also like "OCM-21" seeds to use as rootstock on my wetter sites.

I will happily make a donation for these seeds and I can also send you seeds from seedlings growing in my region if you would like.


2 years ago
Very interesting thread. I've always been a heavy (and loud) heel walker. I don't have any back or knee problem (yet), but I've been slowly more aware, in past few years, that I need to change the way I walk.

Also, I don't like wearing socks both in summer and winter. In summer, my feet and toe perspire in socks and shoes ; in winter, I easily perspire when my boots or shoes are too hot while driving or at work (they put way too much heat...), and then I quickly feel cold when I get outside because my feet are not dry.

So I'm finally starting to make some change, slowly. I am always barefoot at home inside and I am slowly increasing the distance I walk outside in my yard and in the garden. I cannot walk anymore by dropping my heel in front of me when I'm barefoot, so I fox-walk slowly. It feels like I am completely re-learning to walk ! I was worried mainly by Canada thistle weeds, I cannot completely avoid them while walking in the garden and in the field, but it is not that bad. Walking barefoot will likely improve my awareness of my environment and of my soil.

I want to find some way to transition from thick running shoes to barefoot in my everyday life. Has anybody tried Xeroshoes soles (https://xeroshoes.com/shop/outsoles/diy-feeltrue/) ? They also make toe-socks that might be mandatory during winter (we sometimes have -30 F in winter). I'll also try to find some simple thin soled shoes for work (barefoot might not be socially acceptable in my college).

2 years ago

Sara Rosenberg wrote:

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I recommend going to a "producer only" farmer's market, and source your seeds from there. Get fruits that appeal to you and taste them. Save seeds from any that you like.... That lets you know that at least one local grower was successful with the variety for at least one growing season. That's better than you can expect from a seed catalog.

I dislike the taste of Jack-o-Lantern, and anything related to it.

Buttercup is my favorite tasting squash. That's a wonderful place to start. Fruits can be a bit small for my preference.

Sweet meat is popular for taste, and decent sized.

Red Kuri is a commercial variety. Dreadful taste to me.

Hubbard is beloved, but at 40 to 60 pounds per fruit can be overwhelming.

Turks turban is most commonly sold as decorative, but flavor and size are nice.

Butternuts can be iffy. There are lots of commercial varieties that are insipid. Aim for skin that is dark tan rather than light tan, and for flesh that is orange rather than yellow.

I'm don't care much for pepo squash, but if I have to eat one, I prefer something like Acorn, Delicata, or Festival. I recommend avoiding spaghetti squash in a landrace.

well, guess I shouldn't have planted the Jack-o-lantern.. whoops.

Sweet meat and butter cup will probably be what i give a go next year.

thanks Joseph for the quick response. I'm in north Texas and working on getting all my neighbors in on my crazy growing exploits and landrace items sound awesome. I'm definitely interested in planting several next year and seeing how the generations adapt and change.

About pepo squashes, I usually find them just ok with not much taste, but this summer, I grew Gill's Golden Pippin. It is quite small for an acorn squash and weight about 500 grams... but taste is very good ! Also, it has a really creamy texture once baked. I cooked mine side by side with a festival acorn squash and Gill's Golden Pippin had much better taste than Festival.

Also, we had a really bad summer here in Quebec. There was not that much heat when it was time to transplant/sow and it was very very very rainy summer. In August, we had a bunch of nights below 10 oC, and even some nights at 3 or 4 oC at the end of August. Muskmelon have almost all failed for me (but watermelon are doing not so bad.. they are in a south-facing slope) and winter squashes had a lot of trouble growing in this cold rainy summer... but Gill's Golden Pippin didn't care that much about the weather... they outgrew hay and made HUGE vines, each producing more than a dozen of squash. Now we have a very hot and sunny September, so maybe they will have time to mature 15 or 20 squash per vines !

So I guess they are worth trying and incorporating in a pepo winter squash landrace !


3 years ago

Andrew Barney wrote: p.s. It is interesting that Blacktail Mountain was your best producer. It has consistently been my worst. Failed miserably at least three times i tried it. Even Joseph has commented that it has not done well for him, so neither of us recommend it to people. But hey, if it did well for you then great! I like Yellow Doll for a Canary yellow and Sweet Dakota Rose for a red. But i like my grex/landrace better because it has both in it with other possible great combinations adapted to my garden.

Thank you for your feedback about watermelons ! About Blacktail Mountain, my seeds come from a local seed producer, so his strain is probably adapted to my local climate. It may have helped. I'll look specifically for canary yellow watermelon.

About bush squash: I think you have a good point about vining squash having better rooting opportunities. I do not water my plants during summer, so I'll compare if vining squashes are doing better in these conditions than bush squashes. However, our last summer was unusually dry and our summer pepo (bush) squash did not have any problem with no watering at all... so maybe it is not critical under my conditions. We'll see !

3 years ago
Having read Carol Deppe’s books and Joseph Lofthouse’s papers on Mother Earth News, I feel inspired by their work. I’ve been gardening for a few years and I now want to start saving seeds and do landrace gardening. We have a small orchard (about 200 trees were planted in the last years) and we are growing more and more vegetables, mainly for self-sufficiency and sharing/selling surplus. I feel that landrace gardening is the way to go to adapt crops to our specific growing conditions without having to care too much about inbreeding depression, isolation distance and pure seeds. I would like to first focus on cucurbits for my breeding projects.

Our growing conditions :
We are in Québec in hardiness zone 4 with temperature extremes of -30 to -35 Celcius in winter, and +30 to +35 in the summer. Our soil is a mix of clay and loam on a southern slope. Our last spring frost is usually at the end of May and the first frost coming by the end of september. We have an average of 550 to 600 mm of rain during the growth season.

Questions about squashes :
Last year, I did some tests and I could grow some squashes like red kuri, spaghetti squashes, lady godiva and styrian pumpkins, and even got some big blue hubbard squashes and a few butternut squashes.

This year, I have ordered seeds from early and tasty squash varieties and I will let everything be freely pollinated, and finally saving seeds. Some varieties I want to grow have bush growth habit (Discus buttercup, Gold Nugget and some delicata (pepo) squashes) and I read that this is a dominant gene that should be possible to select for in the next years.

I feel that bush growth would be easier to manage in my setup than vining habit. Also, I would like to share my future seeds with people living in my town and have only small space for their garden, so I think that a locally adapted bush squash could be of good value for small urban garden.

Is there a big disadvantage of bush habit versus vining habit ? Has anybody made valuable observations regarding this issue ?

I’ll also start pepo and moschata squashes landraces.

Questions about watermelons:
Last year, I was able to harvest Blactail Mountain (it was my best producer), Sugar Baby, Cream of Saskatchewan and a few Sweet Siberian.

This year, I want to grow more varieties and some of them will have yellow flesh. Is there a significant taste difference between red and yellow flesh watermelons ? Does one tend to be sweeter than the other ? Is there any other valuable trait that would be correlated with flesh color ?

I’ll be happy to report back my progress and share seeds next winter !

3 years ago
I just found a book 1914 written by Father Leopold (he was teacher in an agriculture school in Oka, Québec).

He reports results obtained by M.W.T. Macoun at an experimental farm in Ottawa about apple seedlings:

Seedlings of Snow / Fameuse:
Relatively low proportion of good seedlings from Snow, but a high proportion of McIntosh (which is a Snow seedling) seedlings were good.

Seedlings of McIntosh:
5% of these seedlings gave small apples, 15% had below average size, 80% had a marketable size.
60% had a shape similar to McIntosh.
73% had a color pattern similar to McIntosh.
95% had a flesh texture similar to McIntosh.
50% gave fruits of good quality.

Seedlings of Golden Russet:
They did not gave fruits worthy of mention. However, out of 19 seedlings, no one gave russet-color apples. They were all yellow or green apples.

Seedlings of Wealthy:
They didn't know from which cultivar come the father pollen, but their Wealthy trees were growing close to Duchess of Oldenburg trees and they suspect that Wealthy could also self-pollinate. Almost 80% of Wealthy seedlings gave fruits of average or over average size (93% were big enough to sale); only 4 % of the fruits had a below average quality, 30% had an average quality and 66% were over the average quality. A good proportion of them were similar to Wealthy.

Voilà ! Hope that helps !

4 years ago
I've been using soil blocks for 2 years for vegetable seedlings and I like this system. I feel that it is a little more work to start the seedling, but much less work when it is time to transplant seedlings.

I used 10" x 20" plastic trays in which I can put 40 or 44 2-inch soil blocs. I do not need any other plastic cell pak (so less cleaning to do and less stuff to pile somewhere !)

It needs some practice to find a good mix. Many will work, but I usally use a mix of commercial mix inoculated with mycorrhizae, compost and coco coir. I found that coco coir is really helping to maintain the sturdiness of soil blocks, especially for big 4" blocks. The right amount of water in the mix is also critical so the block won't fall apart.

I do not know if seedlings are healthier with soil blocks than with regular trays/pots, but I know that they are very healthy. They are sturdy, easy to manipulate and easy to water (just pour water in the 10x20 trays). I have not seen any difficulty for the roots to grow in the soil blocks.

I tend to use less often 3/4 inch blocks as I feel that it is more work and germination rates are already high in 2" blocks. For tomatoes, I use the longest pin with 2" block and I put the seed in the hole. As the plant (and its main stem) grows, the stem inside the hole seems to make roots and the seedling is quite sturdy.

4 years ago