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

Jamin Grey wrote:They were growing all over each other, so cross-pollination shouldn't have been a problem

Doesn't matter how close they are growing together. Tomatillos require an animal to move pollen from one plant to a different plant that isn't closely related.
4 hours ago

Any kernels that were pollinated by the fodder maize will be larger and softer. Instead of having a clear glassy interior when dry, they will have a white chalky interior. I would cull the yellow/white kernels just because they are off type, and might be crossed.

The split grains are due to the plant getting wet when the kernels were partially dried (rain?)
15 hours ago

The only thing that has worked passably well for me is the scoop shovel. Purge without looking too closely at what is going away. I end up longing for a few things once in a while, but if I can't find them when I need them, what's the point of having them in the first place? A few weeks ago, I filled a dumpster with seeds from old plant-breeding projects. It felt sad, and wonderful! A feeling of impending freedom.

When my greenhouse got crushed recently, I razed it to the ground, and discarded all of the associated equipment. It felt super liberating.

I finally got my clothing under control. All of my summer clothing will fit into one backpack. Winter clothes are bulkier, but don't take up much more space than that. And mending either gets done today, or the item gets discarded. No piles of things waiting to be mended. And those colors and styles that I wouldn't ever wear? They gotta go! Doesn't matter who gave them to me, or what peer-pressure is involved, or what fantasies I entertain about that party that I'm never going to attend.

I find it much easier to not bring stuff into my space than to get rid of something once it's here.

I'm getting pretty good at letting go of things that are sentimental only. Stuff that belonged to my grandparents, trinkets from grade school, etc... My grandparents are long dead. I don't receive joy from my high school yearbook.

I'm floor-sleeping these days. Can't stash anything under the bed. Inconvenient to put things on my bedroll.

I'm getting pretty good at not accepting the "Sunk Cost Fallacy" which is "I paid money for this, therefore I can't get rid of it". A variation is, "I could sell this for $10, therefore, I have to hold onto it until I get around (never) to selling it." Best to consider that the price was paid in full with the joy of bringing it home.

If it doesn't bring me joy, right now today, I'll often get rid of it.

All those things that I'm saving because I might fix them some day? Nope, gotta go. I'm never going to fix them, even if I already bought the replacement parts.

Oh, and the rest of the family are hoarders too? I intend to only deal with my own hoarding, not with anyone else's.

1 day ago
This seems like a classic example of the fruits not getting pollinated.

Tomatillos are self-incompatible, which means that they cannot pollinate themselves. Pollen has to be carried from plant to plant by insects or other pollinators. Pollen can also be killed by excessive temperatures, or washed away by rainfall or irrigation.

The most common mode of failure that I observe with tomatillos, is that people will only plant a single plant. Then it can't get pollinated, and doesn't make fruits. For proper pollination of tomatillos,  I recommend not less than 3 plants, even if they all get planted into the same hole.
1 day ago

Black/white thinking doesn't inform my attitudes towards life. Supposing someone in my Mormon community has a glass of wine, which is strictly forbidden by church doctrine? They are still Mormon. I think that it's exactly analogous to a vegan eating meat. Being vegan seems to me to be about one's belief system, and not so much about how zealously one adheres to any particular dietary protocol.

1 day ago

I become a new person about every 10 years. I'm not much interested in maintaining who I was. Too much anxiety, pain, sorrow, and grief associated with the old habits, ways, and beliefs.
2 days ago

Thanks for asking about sunroot availability this fall. I wasn't intending to dig them, cause manual labor appeals to me less each fall. However because of the ongoing interest I dug some as a service to the permies community.  

Joseph Lofthouse -- fall 2017 wrote:... I'm asking $15 paper-currency for a small flat-rate box of tubers which includes postage.  If you'd like to please me by paying with silver, I'd accept 5 silver dimes (1964 or earlier) and $8 paper-currency to cover postage. Some of the tubers are huge, so I'll be chopping them up into smaller pieces so that I can fit about 10 different varieties into a box. They are unnamed varieties that are the first or second generation of offspring from my breeding project. They are clones that have pleased me a lot. Back when I was keeping track of names for them, they got names like Wow!, WTF?, HF!, etc... Shipping to usa only. Send me a personal message or email if you need my mailing address, or grab it from the image on the bottom of my web site. I expect to be able to ship these until the weather turns super-cold (around mid-November), so lets make arrangements before then.
2 days ago
I used to get really glum and depressed in the winter. When I found out about Seasonal Affective Disorder, I adopted a strategy to deal with it.

I adopted the philosophy that during the winter the most important activity in my life is to get sufficient sunlight. Therefore, every day that there is sunshine at about noon, I strip off as much clothing as is legally possible, and I lay out in the sun for at least 20 minutes. Whatever else is happening gets put on hold if mid-day sunlight is available.

It helps if I lay on the south side of a building, then I get the heat from direct exposure to the sun, and I get the heat reflected from the building. There is a nook where I most like to sun that helps to minimize the wind. It can be cold outside in the winter. Whenever possible, I sun directly, and try to avoid getting sun through a window, cause no telling how the window messes with the sunlight. But if it's really really too cold to be outside I'll take sunlight through a window.

They say that sunning increases vitamin D content in the body which is very helpful for fighting viruses. This summer, it seemed super-important to me to have a high vitamin D content in my body, so I sunned all summer long. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so I'm going into winter with an ample supply. I expect that I will increase my sunning time this winter.

It seems to me that there may be many other types of other chemical reactions that happen in the body when it is exposed to sunlight. We might as well take advantage of the free energy that is waiting to be used.

The other thing that really lifts my mood is running. For me, the endorphins kick in with a run as short as 600 feet. So if I'm feeling blah, and there's an ice-free area, I'll go for a run.

Anyone else have experience with seasonal affective disorder? How do you deal with it?
6 days ago
First thing I do with unknown berries is:

Pick one
Feel it's texture
break it open (seeds or pit?)
smell it
touch it to my toungue

The sum of those traits can really help me identify the plant, or at least get closer to a family name.

Things like thorns, leaf shape/color/size, plant habit can provide other clues.

1 week ago