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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

Real Sounding names don't have numbers in them. So when someone signs up as Devon78490, it's easy for staff to know that it's probably a spammer.

Real Sounding names usually have vowels in them, and have standard capitalization. So GxytMX is typical of a spammer name.

Real Sounding names don't sound like marketing gimicks: Free Money, Best Chainsaws, Super Vitamins.

It's somewhat common for someone to have a real name that is questioned by a staff member. That's a good opportunity for staff training.

It's also common for real people to share names with famous people. It's easy enough to send in a photocopy of an identification card. The other famous "Joseph Lofthouse" is a musician in the UK. We are probably about 4th cousins.

My strategy for planting tiny seeds goes something like this:

1- plant the day before rainy weather is expeced.

2- scatter seeds in a row directly on top of the soil.

3- walk along the row, scuffing my feet over it.

4- walk along the row several more times, stomping fiercely.

5- After seeds have germinated, run a hoe along the the row, to eliminate seedlings that aren't in nice tidy rows.

15 hours ago

Dale Hodgins wrote:Joseph has produced tons and tons of organically grown vegetables. But he has probably messed up a few times and didn't do things exactly the way that someone who has grown a few vegetables, would like it done.

Oh my heck yes! Permaculturalists tend to be very critical of me for tilling my fields. The criticism typically comes from someone that is growing something like one parsley plant in a plastic pot, and they spent $30 for materials, seed, and potting mix imported from China. And they have never harvested the parsley, nor made a meal with it.
3 days ago

In my own life, people are super-interested in belittling me, alleging hypocrisy.. For example, they will make fun of me if they see me wearing shoes.... When they wear shoes all day long every day....

The easiest way to deal with it has been to change my language. For example, these days, I say that "I live habitually barefoot". That leaves room for me to wear shoes sometimes.

I tell people that "I intend" to do things rather than "I am going to". My intention is always honest at the moment that I speak it. If things change later on, then I changed my priorities, i'm not being a hypocrite.

Instead of practicing "No Electronics Sunday", I practice "Minimize Electronics Sunday". Then people can't call me a hypocrite if I answer their phone call on Sunday.

I guess it's easiest for me to live in the messy middle, and proclaim that's exactly where I live. Then zealots can't point out my hypocrisy, because I'm not trying to be perfect, merely to be better than I used to be.

4 days ago

I didn't watch the video, cause watching videos isn't of much interest to me, especially not political videos nor comedy. However, I did review how staff and readers interacted with the video. The post attracted a number of apple cores from a number of moderators. No moderator gave more than one apple core. In other words, a strong consensus that it wasn't the type of post that fits in with the "be nice" goals of this forum.

Deciding how to deal with the post burned through hours of staff time. To my way of thinking, that in itself would be sufficient reason for an apple core, regardless of content. I personally would rather be making pickled asparagus than fussing about a video that I won't even see.

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:In the spring, I transplanted 1 year old apricot seedlings into my field. They were from 3 different mothers. A few days ago, we had a hard freeze. Today while weeding, I noticed that the leaves on the progeny of two of the varieties were killed by frost. The other variety was not harmed. I don't know that resistance to fall frosts is of any use in an apricot breeding project, but it was interesting to observe that there are differences between varieties.  

I planted about 30 seedlings from 3 different mothers.They are currently in their 3rd growing season. The seedlings from one of the mothers were not reliably winter hardy. I yanked up about half of that sibling group this spring. I might yank up more. The sibling group that showed good frost tolerance last fall were reliably winter hardy. I lost one tree overwinter from the other sibling group that was more sensitive to frost last fall.

The trees didn't flower this spring. After they leafed out, I pruned them as if they are production trees.   The nearby research station minimizes pruning of seedlings, so that they can observe the natural shape of the trees. I'm not, because I'm intending the trees for fruit production. I planted them 3 feet apart.  I suppose that they will grow like a hedge. That allows me to trial a lot of trees in a small space. Close spacing was great for selecting for winter hardiness.

Someone sent me apricot seeds during the winter. Two of them have germinated already. I'm intending to plant them into the empty spots in the row.

The seed grown pistachio and hazel survived the winter.

4 days ago
I have adopted the lifestyle that it's better to do something wrong today, than it is to wait until the Internet says it's the right time. It was only yesterday that I planted Shitake onto fresh logs. I planted them just before a week or more of rain is expected. In my climate, moisture is much more important to mushrooms than carbohydrates, or bark. I expect them to grow wonderfully.

4 days ago
I have a field in which I only grow squash. Because the deer eat pretty much anything else that I plant into it, but not the squash.

In my ecosystem, wheat is pretty much the last thing eaten by animals. In mixed bird seed, everything else is eaten first.
5 days ago
My general strategy for growing mushrooms  is to blend up a mushroom into small pieces, in lots of water, and dump it over places where I would like mushrooms to grow. It helps if I do that during rainy weather, so that the spores and mycelia  have a chance to germinate before it dries out. Oh, and I always sing or chant while planting mushrooms. They seem to respond well to music.

6 days ago