J. Hunch

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Sacramento, CA | Köppen Csa | USDA 9b
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Recent posts by J. Hunch

These resources might help if you're trying to figure out the probability of any given interspecific cross working:

https://taux.evolseq.net/CCDB_web -- Plants with the same chromosome count are more likely to successfully cross/produce fertile offspring. This site also lists some of the known interspecific hybrids within genii (look for the [genus] x [name] format).

https://www.onezoom.org/ -- You can use this to eyeball how closely related two particular species/genii are. There's surprising stuff to discover; for example, according to this chart, loquats are much more closely related to pears than apples are. The more closely related, the more likely a cross works.

For assessing the existing data on crosses, going on Google scholar and trying "[genus] hybrid" and "[genus] interspecific cross" will often turn up info.

The families are a little broad to address here, but there are some notable hybrids in most of the genera you asked about:

Solanum - lycopersicum, cheesmaniae, pennelli, habrochaites, pimpinellifolium, etc have complicated reproductive compatibility with one another
Brassica - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_of_U
Allium - https://www.row7seeds.com/products/sweet-garleek claims to be a garlic-leek hybrid
Cucurbita - tetsukabuto is a well-known moschata x maxima hybrid with partial sterility
Cucumis - hybridization with wild relatives has been used to introduce disease resistance
Arachis - hybridization with wild relatives has been used to introduce disease resistance
Lactuca - cultivated lettuce occasionally crosses with its wild relatives
Mentha - peppermint is a notable (sterile) hybrid of spearmint and watermint
Salvia - white sage naturally hybridizes with black sage and cleveland sage
Ocimum - basilicum has notably been crossed with kilimandscharicum in recent years
Helianthus - annuus crosses with argophyllus
Rubus - basically every notable plant in this genus is a hybrid
Vicia - favas have been artificially crossed with some vetches in experimental settings
Phaseolus - some hybridization between coccineus and vulgaris
Vigna - some compatibility between radiata, mungo, umbellata and angularis
Claytonia - apparently, claytonia has significant variation in chromosome count among its species, which makes hybridization difficult
Origanum - O. x majoricum
Chenopodium - quinoa crosses with its wild relatives

The vast majority of viable interspecific hybrids have not yet been recorded.
1 month ago
I agree with everything said in this thread: curl-free peaches are possible, you just have to select for them. If I were you, I would find the most curl-resistant tasty peach I could and grow out some seeds from it. Rinse and repeat every generation. Alternatively, you could try crossing a tasty peach with one of the ornamental peaches with disease resistance. Peaches fruit very quickly from seed (sometimes in as few as 2 years), so progress goes quickly.

Anecdotally, my seed-grown peaches seem consistently more resistant than my grafted varieties.

These are seedlings from a peach that was growing in a ditch on the side of a freeway. The mother tree was curl-free, and the peaches had bitter skin, which deterred bird, bug, and squirrel damage.

My only red-leafed nectarine gets terrible curl, but I'm sure it varies by variety.
2 months ago
You could always add hens that lay in different colors than the buff orpingtons. If you introduced white, blue, green, or dark brown layers, you would know for a fact that you were only hatching unrelated hens' eggs. If you introduced a new egg color every generation, it would take a few generations to run out of new colors.
10 months ago
I track laying in a spreadsheet, and I haven't noticed anything unusual about this year's egg production. I buy store-brand feed and selectively breed for consistent laying. My ideal hen lays a decent number of good-quality eggs every year for her entire 5-10 year life. I don't enjoy raising the commercially-favored hens bred to have 1-2 years of high productivity and then get replaced after the inevitable steep drop-off. I also select for winter laying when I can, but it's a hard trait to come by. A hen that lays in the winter over the age of 2 is a rare gem.

eggs collected from three 6-year-old hens over the past few days
1 year ago
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:

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.
2 years 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.
2 years 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:


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:

2 years 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!
2 years 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.
2 years 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.
2 years ago