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

You may safely eliminate the water in vinegar/water brines used for picking. That makes the concentration of vinegar stronger, which may negatively impact taste, but it improves safety. Store bought vinegar is typically standardized at 5%. Most of the pickling recipes I use make a brine that is around 2.5% vinegar.

It could be dangerous however to use less vinegar than a recipe calls for.

I'm not sure if taste can be ignored in homemade pickles. Because if the taste is too acidic or too salty for people to enjoy eating, then they won't eat it regardless of the health benefits.

18 hours ago
I have made two lifestyle changes in response to covid-19.

We don't yet know how closely Covid-19 mimics the life-cycle and biochemistry of the common flu.   Vitamin D has a strong protective effect against being infected by the common flu. Perhaps it is similarly effective against Covid-19. My current strategy -- in addition to getting sunlight whenever it is available, over as much of my body as possible, to make my own vitamin D --  is to supplement with vitamin D.

In addition, due to my general deficiency of Zinc, and it's reputation for reducing the duration of respiratory illnesses, I am supplementing with zinc.

At some point, I may apply strong peer pressure to my friends and family to do likewise.

If/when the virus enters my local community, I will endeavor to get plenty of sleep, which seems to be strongly protective against infections.

1 day ago

The seed trains that I have participated in generally have a coordinator, who receives everybody's addresses, and directs each person where to send the package next. A time limit for having the package is usually applied, something like 3 days. Often times, the coordinator will receive seeds from most of the participants at the beginning of the train.

In my ecosystem, Comfrey sometimes grows well, but it doesn't spread much, and is easily controlled.

2 days ago
It worked fine for me. My general experience with kids, is that if they are allowed to be underfoot while young, that they grow up to be wonderful helpers.

My pickles are made with whatever is on hand the day the jars are filled.

Dill is always optional in my pickles. It would be easy enough to dehydrate for later use if I really had to have dill.

With a tree that small, It'd be really easy to start over with something healthier.
6 days ago

Jamin Grey wrote:How do you label your trees?

I don't do record-keeping in my orchard and only extremely rarely in the vegetable garden. Names don't matter to me.

6 days ago
Photos of viable seeds of eastern Helianthus tuberosum and of Solanum tuberosum (common potato).

2 weeks ago

As a plant breeder, I welcome diseases and pests into my garden. If I don't have a disease or pest, then my plants can't undergo survival-of-the-fittest adaptation to it. Once they have undergone a couple of generations of survival, then they pretty much become immune to that particular pest or disease.

Domestic tomatoes are problematic, because they were highly inbred during domestication, and by the heirloom preservation movement. A crop needs genetic diversity in order to adapt to changing conditions. Domestic tomatoes just don't have much diversity to work with.

Last growing season, one of the interspecies hybrid tomatoes (BHXW with self-incompatible-acting breeding system) produced 8 ounce beefsteak type red fruits. That's not the goal of the breeding project, but it was interesting enough to send it to a warmer climate for an over-winter growout.

2 weeks ago