J. Hunch

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since Nov 22, 2020
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trees chicken cooking
Sacramento, CA | Köppen Csa | USDA 9b
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Recent posts by J. Hunch

My chickens love mulberry (morus alba) leaves in the summer when the grass is dead. They'll fly up and eat any they can reach. When they have other green things to eat, they're less excited and will wait for the leaves to rot on the ground and attract tasty bugs instead.

A couple of resources with information about mulberry leaves as fodder:
https://www.fao.org/livestock/agap/frg/mulberry/Papers/HTML/Mulbwar2.htm
https://repositorio.iica.int/bitstream/handle/11324/2661/BVE17038739i.pdf;jsessionid=C6F013B3592A86D4021119E406086D09?sequence=1

Mulberries can definitely stand up to heavy coppicing. Seems like an excellent choice for silvopasture. The cultivars with really long fruit (pakistan) or long summer bearing (Illinois everbearing) would be great in a u-pick setting if you can grow them in zone 4.
4 months ago
Pepperoni is great on a hot italian sub sandwich. You could also sub it for the chorizo in caldo verde (portuguese soup with potatoes and hearty greens). It's a great soup, especially in cold weather.
4 months ago
50c is a challenge! There definitely aren't as many gardening resources for extremely hot/dry climates. If you're not already doing so, starting perennials in the fall might help. They might have an easier time establishing in the cool, mild weather. Then they'll already have well-developed roots when the brutal summer temperatures come.

These might be relevant to you:

https://permies.com/t/73449/Desert-food-guilds
https://www.permaculturenews.org/2016/05/06/mediterranean-tree-guilds-that-work/
https://thegrownetwork.com/a-perennial-food-guild-for-the-arid-american-southwest/
https://permies.com/t/156255/Mediterranean-Tree-Guilds

I like sprawling/vining annuals as companions for perennials. They provide low shade, but don't form dense-rooted thickets the way kangkong does. The perennials outgrow them and provide shade in return over time.

A few heat-loving annuals that might work for this (not sure if they're tolerant up to 50c, though):

sweet potato
cowpeas/black-eyed peas (allow to sprawl instead of trellising)
vining moschata squash (trombocino or butternut)
watermelon (maybe try a variety like desert king)
melon (maybe try a variety like ha-ogen)
unstaked vining cherry tomatoes (they seem to handle the heat better this way)

There are a bunch of hot/dry tolerant plant suggestions in this thread, including a list of my favorite perennials, but again, not sure if they'll be quite heat-hardy enough for your climate:

https://permies.com/t/165230/Species-Dryland-Mediterranean-Food-Woodland
5 months ago
Interesting question! Walnuts definitely seem to be sensitive to certain allelopathic plants. Squirrels plant huge quantities of black walnuts around here, and they come up pretty much everywhere they can. Black walnut seedlings don't mind growing in the shade of most trees, but I almost never see them sprouting under oak, eucalyptus, pine, privet, cottonwood, or locust.

I'm not sure which allelopathic understory plants might affect walnut in a guild. Elderberry can be allelopathic, but walnuts and elderberry get along fine. I guess a competitive understory plant might get discouraged by the juglone before it has a chance to discourage the walnut. I'm not sure I've ever seen a black walnut above a certain size struggling to thrive, except when dying of old age -- they're pretty tough trees!
5 months ago
Your list looks good! A few ideas for you:

Perennial & Edible: Hardy kiwi, trellised blackberry/raspberry, climbing roses selected for hip production.

Perennial & Decorative: Can't beat clematis, honeysuckle, and wisteria for fragrance! You could also go for North American natives, like dutchman's pipe or trumpet creeper.

Annual & Edible: All your classic vining fruits/vegetables. Melons, cucumbers, gourds, hyacinth bean (and the more common beans, like fava, etc), achocha, nasturtium, malabar spinach, peas (some varieties have highly decorative flowers/pods), rocoto pepper, snail vine, sweet potato, tomatoes...

Annual & Decorative: So many. Spanish flag, black eyed susan vine, mandevilla, cup and saucer vine, canary creeper, purple bell vine, sweet pea, asarina, cypress vine, cardinal climber, mexican flame vine, balloon vine...lots of these are attractive to pollinators, too.
5 months ago
I agree that manually putting them in the coop isn't sustainable. What's their default behavior if you don't intervene? It's hard to watch chickens jockey for position on the roost, but as long as no one is getting injured from the fighting (or ends up sleeping in a place that's unsafe for them), there's nothing unusual about some squabbling at night. I recommend trying not to intervene until late twilight for at least a night or two, including not isolating your roosters. See where everyone ends up. Even if some hens try to sleep on the floor or outside the coop, they're a lot easier to move when it's dark -- chickens have worse night vision than humans and tend to go still in the dark rather than try to run blindly.

Aside from the good advice already offered in this thread, my number one suggestion is to evaluate your coop. Is there enough room on the perch? Is it easy for your birds to fly up to? Is the light level in the coop so low in the evening that they can't see the perch clearly? If it's really dark in there, they might not recognize you when you come in, causing them to think you're a predator and panic (talking to them when you're in there can help with this). I don't know exactly what your coop is like, but adding a second perch can help if certain birds are getting bullied off of the highest one. You could also try putting vertical bars along the roost to keep them from pecking/ramming each other on there.

Alternatively, you could try removing the roosters from the situation completely for a day or two and see whether or not that solves the issue. A really good rooster will help mediate conflicts between hens instead of making them worse. If they're vicious enough that you're seriously worried they'll injure the hens, they might not be suited to being part of the general flock.
5 months ago
What does your precipitation/irrigation situation look like? Sierra foothills are pretty dry in the summer, right?

Cover crop mixes are my favorite way to throw a hundred things at a tricky plot of land and see what sticks. I like green cover's mixes for this: https://greencover.com/shop-category/mix/
5 months ago

Abraham Palma wrote:ziziphus jujube? Already trying to plant some.



I think jojoba is Simmondsia chinensis?
7 months ago
Zone 7 is so great for fruit! Here's a list of spring and summer edibles, listed roughly in order of when they fruit in the year:

Late Spring
-White mulberry
-Certain dessert crabapples. Centennial crab is my favorite and is a natural dwarf. Trailman is also supposed to be good.
-Haskaps
-Early strawberries

Summer
-Brambles (blackberries, raspberries, dewberries)
-Cherries
-Early apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums
-Currants
-Early cold hardy figs
-Gooseberries
-Early apples
-Asian pears
-Strawberries
-Grapes

You can also extend the end of your season into winter with late-hanging fruit. Late apples, pomegranates, medlars, and certain persimmons can be harvested as late as December or January.
7 months ago

G Prentice wrote:
If a crab apple pollinated a Granny Smith, for example, the fruit produced is just Granny Smith in characteristics, the fruit isn’t affected by the crab apple (smaller size) etc. - is that correct? But if I were to collect the seed from the Granny Smith apples and grow trees from them, the characteristics of the apples on the new trees would be a mix of the granny smith and the crab apple - the apples might be of a size in between a Granny Smith apple and a crab apple?



That's correct. If you had a crab apple pollinate a Granny Smith, the apples would be normal Granny Smiths. You'd have to grow out the seeds to get hybrid characteristics. When people say that fruit is bigger/sweeter due to being pollinated, this is because plants can often tell how many viable seeds are inside a fruit and devote resources accordingly. If an apple is badly pollinated and only has one or two seeds, the fruit will probably be small and misshapen -- the apple tree doesn't want to put lots of effort into feeding just a couple of seeds. If it's pollinated very well, the resulting fruit is more likely to be large, sweet, and well-formed.

G Prentice wrote:
Elaeagnus x ebbingei is a hybrid species, right? I find it a bit confusing that hybrids are given new names that don’t tell you who the parent species are - I.e. ‘ebbingei’. I found one web page that said the parent species are ‘ a cross between E. macrophylla and E. pungens (or perhaps E. x reflexa)’, but otherwise it wasn’t easy to find info’ about this hybrid, which seems strange given how common it is.



Yeah, taxonomy is messy and weird. The "[example genus] x [name]" format always indicates an interspecies hybrid within [example genus]. It is a shame that the name gives no clue as to the parentage. Information can be hard to track down, even for common species.

E. macrophylla and E. pungens are both reported to have 28 chromosomes. I couldn't figure out how many chromosomes E. multiflora has. If it has 28, the odds of it being cross-fertile with E. x ebbingei are much higher. Now I wish I had the relevant plants so I could try the cross!

It looks like Elaeagnus x ebbingei's name is officially Elaeagnus x submacrophylla now, but both names are in use. Confusing.

Named cultivars grown or grafted from cuttings have their advantages (predictable, sometimes fruit earlier, can be a way to propagate a great sterile plant), but in my opinion, growing from seed is definitely worthwhile. If you like the parents, you'll probably get offspring that you like, too. You might get something better than the parents. If you get something you don't like, you can always use it as rootstock for grafting a better plant onto (or just chop it down). If it sounds fun, try it!
7 months ago