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

We generally give them names.

Makes life easier if we can say, "Hazel has a sore on her leg", or "Sage has went broody again", or "Looks like Blackie is pregnant", or "Thanksgiving got out of the coop again!"

My brother raises 3 meat turkeys per year, and each year, they have the same names: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas.

Our milk cows all had the same name for 30 years: Sugi. Except for one, which was crazy wild. She was called Duncel.

The names often key off of a physical or behavioral trait of the anima: Spot, Blackie, Stormy, Runt, etc.

I'm going to go ahead and default to the brainwashing of my youth, and say that I think there are circumstances in which shaming is an appropriate response to various types of bad, ill-informed, or unhealthy behaviors. At least when I was a child, there were good behaviors, and bad behaviors, and people making bad choices were shamed for their bad choices.

In the case of being fat, I would love to see us shaming the doctors, and food/medicine-manufacturers who have a self-interest in keeping people fat, and unhealthy.  

Awareness is somewhere near the beginning of healing....  Is it really shaming to tell someone that they'd feel better if they weren't morbidly obese?

Tropical seeds can be damaged by freezing.

I routinely freeze all species of temperate seeds, in tightly sealed containers, without problems. Insects can be voracious predators of seeds. I haven't yet found a seed predator that survives the freezer.
4 days ago

At my place, mints often struggle to grow. None have become established in the fields that I till, nor in the lawns. There are a few small patches in shady, non-disturbed sites.

Rahul Swain wrote:"Mother I feel you under my feet"- Well said.

It's from the lyrics of one of my call/response planting songs:

Mother I feel you under my feet.
Mother I hear your heartbeat.

-repeated 1 time-

heya heya heya, ya heya heya ho
heya heya heya heya heya ho-o-o

-repeated 1 time-

I often rattle a birdhouse gourd while singing it. I often
dance to the music. It's lovely to
sing in a drum circle, or with pals. I love ritual while
planting, weeding, and harvesting.

The greenhouse in the photo was lost, due to a poor choice on my part regarding living arrangements. No worries, I built another in November 2015. It has survived 4 years. The only issue, is that one window pane blew off in a wind storm, one time. I screwed the glazing to the frame. The point I screwed into on the window panel was slender, so it ripped out. I added a better placed screw when I reattached it.

The roof as manufactured, does not shed snow. That was a problem for me, so I covered the gutter with a piece of sheet metal. I added a lot of caulking to better seal the glazing.

The door freezes during the winter. To free it up, I dump hot water on the bottom door runners. I screw one door shut during the winter, and added a latch between doors. Haven't had a door blow off since that modification.

One gutter was manufactured an inch short. So I had to munge that when I was putting it together. The second install went much quicker than the first.

The worst thing about the greenhouse, is that it acts as a catch-all for anything around the farm that I want to keep out of the rain.... My bad! No fault of the greenhouse.

5 days ago

Ryan M Miller wrote:what would be the risk of cross-pollination for squash planted 370 feet apart?

In the ballpark of 4 seeds per 1000.

William Schlegel wrote:Joseph here is something new to me I encountered today. A blue skinned hab x domestic in my garden.

I figure that the blue skin came from Black Prince, which was one of the original varieties pollinated by solanum habrochaites. It didn't do very well, or provide a very high percentage of the seed, so it's good to see that at least some of  it's genetics are still hanging around.
I till corn and sunflower stalks into the ground, right where they grew. Then next year, I plant large seeded things (beans, corn, squash, sunflower, peas) where the corn grew the previous year.

Sunflowers can be allelopathic, so putting their residues on a burn pile seems like a fine strategy.

(Posted with my standard disclaimer that I am not a permaculturalist.)
2 weeks ago