Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit
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Steve Thorn

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since Nov 12, 2018
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Steve started his first "permaculture" garden when he was about 7 years old and has been addicted to growing things ever since! It was only about 20 square feet back then, and he didn't know much about gardening except what was on the back of the seed packet, but he knew he didn't want to use any fertilizer or pesticides, and wanted to grow everything as naturally as possible.
Years later, when he got some land of his own, he started planting a larger garden, berry bushes, and fruit trees, and also discovered permaculture and Permies! Permaculture has made growing things so much easier and enjoyable! He is passionate about growing things naturally using natural farming and permaculture methods to minimize work and maximize enjoyment!
He is also passionate about saving seed and creating new and locally adapted vegetable and own root fruit varieties to increase the natural growing vigor, flavor, and pest and disease resistance of the plants, to make them easier and more enjoyable to grow.
Creating a plant nursery selling these types of plants occupies most of his free time right now, and he is hoping to start selling these types of plants and seeds soon! He has learned so much from the Permies community and is excited to learn and share our experiences together!
Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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Recent posts by Steve Thorn

Thanks Greg, will definitely check them out! Great looking squash btw!

greg mosser wrote:
the third season on a landrace like this seems to be the point where the magic really starts happening. not sure why.

To my understanding the magic starts to happen in the third generation because of more genetic diversity really showing up, and as a result of that, better adapted traits also reveal themselves and can then be further selected by the grower.

I like to think of it like this (the way simplified version and not exactly genetically correct)...

Most varieties today are super inbred to maintain consistently looking alike year after year, and are therefore homozygous (it has two of the same genes) and will pass these down to the offspring if they are crossed with each other, resulting in no new genetics showing up.

Using simplified Mendelian genetics with capital letters representing dominant traits, let's say that we have two squash. D will be disease susceptible and d will be disease resistant. V will be non vigorous and v will be vigorous. One has a genotype of DDvv (disease susceptible and vigorous) and another is the opposite ddVV disease resistant and not vigorous.

These two plants meet in the garden one day through a mutual bumblebee friend, fall in love, and decide to start a family and make little squash plants.

Their kids get one gene (letter) from each parent and look like this.


They all have one dominant gene for each trait which is expressed, so they all will be disease susceptible and non vigorous. What went wrong here? Why are my squash so wimpy? Let's give them another year.

Next year the kids have kids which vary and look like this. There are more of some (the hybrids) than others, but just for simplicity, here's the different possible kids.


So now in the third year we get all of the options expressed. Based on the genes we finally have some (the last in the list) that show up as both disease resistant and vigorous. We like how some of them taste and save their seeds, and repeat year after year, and eventually our landrace is selected to be generally disease resistant and vigorous.

This example isn't exactly accurate since I'm pretty sure vigorousness is usually dominant and some gene expressions aren't simple dominant and recessive, but rather exist on a spectrum. But hopefully it is helpful in describing the "magic" of the third year!
4 days ago
Out of all of the squash species, Pepo squash seem to be the least adapted to our area, which surprised me. I thought it would have been Maxima, but a lot of the Maxima varieties have thrived while very few of the Pepo squash have done great. However the ones that are doing good, are doing well, and I'm interested to see how the offspring do that will have some additional genetics from the other varieties that didn't produce squash but probably pollinated the other squash.

Most of them are short and green that turn yellow and sometimes orange when ripe. One off the squash though is a good sized pumpkin shape.

Next year I'm probably going to cross some of these vining ones with my most vigorous and healthy bush types for some added diversity and disease resistance for the vining ones. It should be interesting how the offspring turn out.
1 week ago
These squash are really big and beautiful to me. The major colors of the ones I'm growing are green, yellow, and white.

They have been very disease and pest resisistant and also vigorous. I'm excited to see how the crosses of these turn out.

1 week ago
This is actually my first year of the landrace development.

I grew a lot of different varieties and tried to select ones to grow that were each high quality and also either grow well in a similar area to mine that can thrive in high heat and humidy or have high disease and pest resistance.

I'm really excited to see how the offspring will be next year! I have very high hopes for them as the current ones growing are all high quality and have grown well this year. I bet the offspring of these will be even stronger plants due to the combination of really good genetics since I've selected only the ones that are naturally drought tolerant with no watering, bug tolerant, disease tolerant, and that grow easily and vigorously.
1 week ago

Josh Mayfield wrote:And we can't really grow Maximas either; we've planted several the past couple years and can only get a couple to full maturity.

Hopefully this landrace will help fix that!

So far I have a few that are super disease and pest resistant and also very productive!
1 week ago
There are a lot of different ones to the left of it.

And the pollinators on it are amazing, so many different kinds, and they are all going amongst the different plants. I often see three big bumble bees all in one flower, huddled right next to one another all trying to collect their bounty.

I bet some of the squash are self pollinated, which I think it's neat to have a few like this just to see what they are like, while I'm guessing most or at least a majority of them are pollinated by different plants, which will be really fun to see how they turn out!
1 week ago
I'm having a lot of success so far with developing the mochata landrace. All of these vines seem to be very pest and disease resistant and moderately vigorous. They have produced these fruit during a period of no rain for 45 days and extreme heat averaging in the 90's and higher. I'm really excited to see how these turn out!

I'm hoping to offer some of these seeds this Fall if anyone is interested!
1 week ago
I mulched an area with leaves earlier this year, and it rained a pretty good amount this Spring. However, we went 45 days without any rain and with extremely hot temperatures, and the plants did fine.

I didn't water them at all though so they were used to some periods without watering and had put down good roots, so when a real dry period came they were able to take it with no problem. The mulch also held enough moisture that the soil still with some moisture even during the really hot and dry time.
I've noticed how well my trees do with the native plants and wildflowers also. I've let them grow up among all of my fruit trees now, and they really seem to be thriving. They seem to help build super rich soil and also attract a really diverse range of pollinators.
2 weeks ago
This is probably one of the most little known and grown varieties of squash. Along with Mochata squash these are known to be more adapted to areas with high heat and humidity. I'm excited to create a landrace of them that will be even better adapted to my area of high heat, humidity, and pest and disease pressure.

These squash will be selected for being able to be grown completely naturally in the southeastern US with no irrigation, fertilizer, or sprays of any kind. Deliciousness will be the other main selection criteria with no regard to looks, although I'm sure most will be quite beautiful!

I will probably offer seeds of the first F1 generation cross of the squash that do the best this year if I have enough seeds ans if there is interest in them.

Let's make a Mixta squash landrace!
3 weeks ago