Joseph Lofthouse, author
Joseph Lofthouse, Landrace Seedsman
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Welcome to gardening with ease, joy, and contentment. Drop the worry, and allow your plants to thrive.

Lofthouse-Oliverson Landrace Muskmelons

Summary
I am breeding an open pollinated landrace of cantaloupes on my farm in Paradise Utah. I am selecting mostly for muskmelon types with orange fleshed fruits and netted skin. Seeds are available to home gardeners, small-scale farmers, and cantaloupe breeders.
Why? open pollinated cantaloupe
Method
In the 2009 growing season seed was saved from the sweetest, earliest maturing, pest resistant muskmelons and cantaloupes that grew on my farm and on five of the neighboring farms. In the 2010 growing season this seed formed the basis of my breeding population. This population was planted alongside about 40 varieties that are famous for their sweet taste or early maturity. They were allowed to freely cross pollinate. Some fruits are round while others are oblong. The breeding program includes seed from the genetically diverse Long Island Seed Project's cantaloupe landrace. An additional 35 varieties of orange muskmelons were trialled during the 2011 growing season. Susan Oliverson of Cache Valley Idaho collaborated closely with me on this project as we selected for varieties that thrive in our valley.

The earliest, best growing, sweetest tasting fruits were selected each year as seed stock for the following year. Each year a small number of seeds from one or a few new varieties are trialed next to the main cantaloupe patch. If they are exceptional their seed is incorporated into the best-landrace. If they are ho-hum then only their pollen is incorporated into the best-gene-pool. To avoid gene loss due to unusual growing conditions in a single year about 15% of planted seed is from 2 to 3 year old seed.

Seed is also saved and planted from melons that grow well enough in my garden to set seed, but are not early enough, or prolific enough, or tasty enough to make it into my best-genepool. These represent about 10% of the seed that I plant each year. They are grown to maintain genetic diversity and just in case something clever shows up in them with all the crossing that is going on. From these seeds I may one day develop sister landraces with traits like huge fruits, or 'bush' growth habit.


Great Harvest in 2011

Harvested 30 baskets in 2011
Example
As an example of how effective my project has been at developing a cantaloupe variety that thrives in my fields, the photos below were taken on the same day. The seeds were also planted on the same day a few feet from each other. Each photo shows one plant. The plant with prolific growth is from my breeding program. The other small plant is typical of how off-the-shelf cantaloupe seeds grow in my garden. This one well adapted plant produced more fruit than a 50 foot row of off-the-shelf cantaloupe.
Joseph's best cantaloupe
Joseph's Best Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe not well adapted to my fields
Sharing
Due to the currently strange economic conditions, I am not selling seeds. Some varieties of my seeds can be obtained from:

Experimental Farm Network

Giving Ground Seeds

Snake River Seed Cooperative

Wild Mountain Seeds

Seed Savers Exchange

High Ground Gardens

The Buffalo Seed Company

Resilient Seeds

Baker Creek Seeds

Miss Penn's Mountain Seeds

Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds

If I missed anyone please let me know, and I'll add you to this list.

After my book came out, requests poured in for varieties mentioned in the book. It takes me at least an hour per request to handle the correspondence, find the seed, package it, and get it to the post office. If you ask me directly for seed, or information about varieties, please consider making a donation large enough to cover an hour or two of a celebrity's time.

Seeds from Lofthouse-Oliverson Landrace Muskmelon are currently available under the terms of The Open Source Seed Initiative Pledge: You have the freedom to use these OSSI-Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.

My Other Landraces

Landrace garden crops

Warm Regards,
Joseph

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