How to Make Kombucha Part 2

How to Make Kombucha Part 2

In How to Make Kombucha Part 2 we get into flavoring and the second ferment where we will bottle the brew and get some carbonation.

Flavor

In this batch, I’m using ginger to make a ginger ale flavored brew.  I’m doing this because when I went to the store to get the starter tea, I found ginger flavored kombucha and found it to be mighty tasty.  I’ve also seen several posts stating that ginger has a lot of health benefits for you, so I figured it seems to be a win-win.

Ginger

As this is my first go-round with flavoring kombucha, I figured I’d try several different potencies of flavoring.  The first thing I did was to grate the ginger with a cheese grater.

How to Make Kombucha Part 2

How to Make Kombucha Part 2

In the Bottle

In two bottles, I added 1/8 tsp and in two other bottles I added ¼ tsp of ginger.  I used a funnel and just added the ginger right into the bottle itself.

The Bottle

The bottles I’m using are swing top glass bottles.  They are intended for home beer brewing, but work great for kombucha.  Mine have white lids and I wrote numbers on the lids.  Then I wrote on a piece of paper the number and ingredients so I could keep track of how much flavor was in each.  After I get the recipe I like down, then I won’t need to write numbers on each lid.

How to Make Kombucha Part 2

How to Make Kombucha Part 2

Add Kombucha

I then added kombucha using the funnel.  I did this in the kitchen sink because I always seem to spill a little and in the sink, it is much easier to clean up.

Cap It

I fill the bottles up leaving about an inch or so of head space.  Then I cap it and store it at room temperature.

CO2 Pressure

I like the swing top bottles because they allow me to check and make sure that I don’t build up too much CO2 in the bottle.  If too much builds up, it could potentially shatter the bottle.  By the way, it is the CO2 that gives the drink the carbonation.  I will check a bottle every couple of days by opening the lid and making sure it doesn’t shoot the lid off like Champaign.  I want a little pressure, that’s all.

Taste Test

Every couple of days, pull a bottle out and give it a taste test.  It will get more and more acidic as time goes on.  Taste is very subjective, so you need to find what you like and how long to brew it.  I have done as few as five days and as many as ten days.

How to Make Kombucha Part 2

How to Make Kombucha Part 2

Stop the Ferment

As soon as the brew has the taste you want, stop the ferment.   This is done by moving the bottles to the refrigerator.  This really doesn’t stop the ferment, but slows it to the point that it is almost stopped.

Link to Part 1

How to Make Kombucha – Part 1

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How to Make Kombucha Part 1

How to Make Kombucha Part 1

This post is about How to Make Kombucha – Brewing the First Batch.  We cover how to brew it, do the first fermentation and discuss a little about the second fermentation.

The Ingredients

The ingredients required include eight tea bags, 3 ½ quarts of water, ½ quart of starter tea (kombucha from last batch), 1 cup of sugar, and a SCOBY.

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

SCOBY

SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.  It is sometimes called the “Mother”. This is what helps us brew kmobucha quickly. You can make your own or risk letting nature make one for you, but if you can get one already going, it speeds things up greatly and ensures you get brew a good batch.

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

I got my SCOBY from a person I met at a PDC class.  I have also seen people trading them online on Facebook.  There is a Facebook group called “Kombucha Brew Crew” and they offer up a good bit of advice as well as ways to get SCOBY.

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

Starter Tea

Starter Tea is kombucha from your last batch.  I did not have a last batch as this was my first batch.  What I did for starter tea is I went to Walmart and bought a can of Kombucha.  It cost around $3.00.  I added a cup of that in and it worked fine.  Make sure you get a non-flavored type and a type that has live cultures in it. You do not want anything that has been pasteurized as that would kill the bacteria that you want.

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

The Process

The process is as simple as brew sweet tea, add the starter tea and SCOBY and brew for seven to fourteen days.  You can then add on steps like a second brew and flavor if you like.  We will walk you through each step of the process below, but it really isn’t that complicated.

Heat Water

In a pan heat two quarts of water.  Then add the sugar and tea bags and let them steep.  After they have steeped and made a good strong batch of tea, remove the tea bags and add the additional quart and a half of water.

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

Cool

Cool your tea to room temperature.  If you added cold water when you added the last quart and a half above, that will speed the cooling a little.

Add Remaining Ingredients

Now add the starter tea and SCOBY.  Make absolutely sure the brew is room temperature as hot tea could kill the SCOBY and starter tea.

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

Brew

Now brew your kombucha.  Just put it in a jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and give it time.  You will want to cover the jar with a cloth.  I used mason jars and an old (clean) tee shirt for the lid.  I held the tee shirt down with a ring for the mason jar.  The cloth lid will allow the kombucha to breath, which it needs to do at this stage and it keeps fruit flies out.

Label It

Don’t forget to label you jar or write down on a piece of paper pertinent information.  You will want to write down at the very least the following: the tea used and the date the brew started.  In a week to ten day it could be difficult to remember exactly when it started brewing and when it is done, so the easiest way to keep it all straight is just to write it down.

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

How to Make Kombucha Brewing the First Batch

How Long to Brew

With a good starter and good SCOBY you will generally brew seven to fourteen days.  The longer it sits, the more acidic it will get.  I let my first batch sit for sixteen days and it almost tasted like vinegar, so I will need to brew for less time in the future.

After Brew

After your kombucha has brewed long enough, you can drink it or do a second ferment and add flavor.  With a second ferment, you can also get carbonation if you like as well.

First

The first thing to do after the first ferment is done is to remove the SCOBY and set it aside for the next batch.  Also, take two cups of kombucha for each gallon made and set it aside as starter for the next batch.

Next

I added ginger to my brew and did a second ferment with the hopes of getting carbonation. Here is a link to How to Make Kombucha Part 2

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Epi072 Great Escape Farms Podcast

Epi072 Great Escape Farms Podcast

This post covers Epi072 Great Escape Farms Podcast – The Week in Review, Transplanting Plant Suckers, Humanure Composting Toilet, and Flash Freezing Bananas.

Great Escape Farms Podcast

Great Escape Farms Podcast

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.

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Flash Freezing Bananas for Smoothies

Flash Freezing Bananas for Smoothies

This post is about Flash Freezing Bananas.  This can be done with ripe or over ripe bananas to save them for later use.  I use mine in smoothies.

Background

The reason this video came to be is that my wife went out and bought some bananas.  But on the same day on the way home from work, I bought bananas.  We use bananas in our smoothies, but we had twice what we needed at this point and they would turn brown and go bad before we used them.

Flash Freezing Bananas for Smoothies

Flash Freezing Bananas for Smoothies

The Tools

The tools of the trade for flash freezing are: a cookie sheet, a knife, cutting board, parchment paper, and a freezer.

Cut

The first thing I do is peel the banana and then lay it on the cutting board.  Then cut the banana into slices, each slice being between one quarter and one half inch thick.

In the Pan

The next thing to do is to put parchment paper on the cookie sheet and then lay the bananas out on the parchment paper.  Make sure none of the bananas touch one another.  You want to get them into the freezer as soon as you can once they are cut so that they don’t turn brown and bruised looking.

Flash Freezing Bananas for Smoothies

Flash Freezing Bananas for Smoothies

Freeze

Now move the cookie sheet to the freezer.  They really only need an hour or two in a good freezer, but I forgot mine and they spent the night in the freezer.  This is not problem at all.

Remove from Parchment

When you remove the cookie sheet from the freezer, the next step is to remove the bananas from the parchment paper.  They will be frozen and won’t stick to each other, but will be a little sticky on the bottom side from prior to the freeze and will stick to the parchment paper.  Just pull them off and they will be fine.

Bag and Label

From the parchment paper, the bananas get moved to a plastic bag.  I usually use a one gallon bag.  Label the bag with what you have and the date before you put anything in the bag.  Then put the bananas in the bag and place in the freezer.  Because they are already individually frozen, they will not stick together in a big blob, so you can pull out the quantity of bananas you want.  I use about a handful per smoothie.

Flash Freezing Bananas for Smoothies

Flash Freezing Bananas for Smoothies

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Humanure Composting Toilet

Humanure Composting Toilet

This post is about how to make a Humanure Composting Toilet.  This post gives a high-level overview of what a composting toilet is and how it works.

Background

I was in a Permaculture Design Class (PDC) in the fall of 2016 and we all broke up into groups and did projects.  The group I was in made a portable greenhouse.  The post today is about what another group made which was something called a humanure composting toilet.

Humanure Composting Toilet System

The system that the group made consisted of two different deposit points.  One for human “pee” and another for human “poo”.  They separate out the two because if you get too much pee or urine in the overall system it will stink and not compost properly.

Humanure Composting Toilet

Humanure Composting Toilet

Urine System

The “pee” or urine system was basically a toilet seat with a funnel under it.  The funnel was connected to a hose that ran the liquid out of the building.  It could be dropped off out in the woods or anywhere away from the building.

Humanure Composting Toilet

Humanure Composting Toilet

Solid System

The “poo” or solid system was a toilet seat raised up on a platform with a trash can underneath.  The property owners would make sure there was sawdust available to put on top of the solids.

Humanure Composting Toilet

Humanure Composting Toilet

Saw Dust

The saw dust acted as smell control by covering the solids.  It also helped the solids break down and become compost.  The goal of the system is compost the solids down to the point that they can actually be used in the garden.  I’m still not one-hundred percent sold on this process myself, but I must admit, I have done no research on this at all.  I only saw this one system that was built in class and heard the description by my classmates.

The Timeline

I have read in an article or two that said the humanure needs to compost for a year before it is ready to use.  In the class I was in they said that it would be ready in a couple of months.  Again, I have not researched this, so this is certainly something that you would want a firm answer on before you did this.

The Book

Humanure Composting Toilet

Humanure Composting Toilet

There was a book that was referenced in class.  The book is called the “Humanure Handbook” and I have a link below so you can check it out if you like.

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Transplanting Plant Suckers

Transplanting Plant Suckers

This post is about Transplanting Plant Suckers. We describe what a sucker is, the difference between a sucker and rooted cuttings and how to transplant suckers.

Elderberries

I have a number of elderberry plants at my Pasadena, MD homestead.  There is one in particular that not only has loads of fruits, but also has loads of suckers every year.

Transplanting Plant Suckers

Transplanting Plant Suckers

What’s a Sucker?

A sucker in plant terms is a new plant that pops up from the roots of the existing plant.  Sometimes this is caused by a damaged root.  Other times it is just one of the ways a plant propagates.  That is the case for elderberries.  All of my elderberries propagate via suckers, but the Adam’s elderberry has a lot of suckers.

Rooted Cutting

Suckers are not rooted cuttings.  A rooted cutting is when you cut softwood, semi-softwood, or hardwood branches off of the plant and then put it in the ground.  If that cutting produces roots and begins to grow, it is called a rooted cutting.

Transplanting Plant Suckers

When transplanting plant suckers, you want enough of the root to keep the plant alive, but not so much of the root that you harm the original plant or that the root is so big that it is cumbersome to work with.  I try to get the root system without disturbing much of the soil around the roots that I’m taking the sucker from.

Transplanting Plant Suckers

Transplanting Plant Suckers

Trim the Top

You will also want to trim off some of the plant canopy.  I usually try to get about five to six inches of roots and only have about five to six inches of branches with leaves.  By trimming off some of the canopy it helps prevent shocking the plant and allows it to build a strong root system of its own.

Selling Suckers

I will be selling plant suckers on Great Escape Nursery.  I will make sure to differentiate between rooted cuttings and suckers, so keep an eye out for each in the spring.

Transplanting Plant Suckers

Transplanting Plant Suckers

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Epi071 Great Escape Farms Podcast

Epi071 Great Escape Farms Podcast

This post covers Epi071 Great Escape Farms Podcast – The Week in Review, Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse, Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum, and Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack.

Great Escape Farms Podcast

Great Escape Farms Podcast

Great Escape Podcast is an audio version of the blog posts from Great Escape Farms, Specializing in Unique Edible Plants, Permaculture Gardens, and Homesteading. The blog posts can be viewed at GreatEscapeFarms.com.

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Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

This post cover Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack.  We show you how to repair a crack in a Polyethylene Water Tank, but the same method can be used for anything made of polyethylene, including canoes, kayaks, or anything else.

The Tank

I bought two 1550-gallon polyethylene tanks that I found on Craig’s list.  I bought both for $450, which is about half of what one tank costs.  Both tanks needed a little repair, but it was still a good deal.  This post covers how to repair a crack.  I’ll do another post in the future on how to repair a hole or gouge.

The Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

The crack that I’m working on looks like it happened by an object hitting the tank and creating the crack with one half of the cracked piece knocked inward.

Clean

The first step was to clean the tank.  I did this with a brush, water, and mild dish soap.  I washed the outside of the tank just like I would a car.  This prevents dirt and debris from getting into the repaired area.  On the inside, the tank had some sand in it.  I took my shop vac in and vacuumed up all of the dirt on the inside and wiped down the repair area with a wet rag.

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Level the Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

The next step is to level the crack.  Two pieces on either side of the crack do not line up, so I stuck a screwdriver in the crack and pried the inner piece out to line up with the outer piece.

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

The Welder

They make a kit for welding polyethylene.  I bought my kit from Amazon and it cost just over $100.  I’ll include a link to that below.  The welding kit is like a big hot soldering iron with sticks of polyethylene that you use to fill in gaps.

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Make a V

Plug the welder in and let it heat up.  Then use the tip of the welder to melt the polyethylene on both sides of the crack, forming a “V” shape.

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Fill the V

Then use the welder and supplied polyethylene sticks to fill the hole in the “V”.  Be sure to get it hot enough to melt into the existing sides of the “V”.

Getting Inside

After I welded the outside of the crack, I moved to the inside of the tank.  I’m not a horribly huge person and I’m able to get into the tank.  If someone is trying this and is much larger than I am, they may not be able to get in the tank.  The only recommendation I’d have if you can’t get into the tank is see if you can find a friend that will fit.

Inside Work

Once inside, make the same “V” as above in the crack.  Then take the screen mesh supplied in the welding kit and melt it into both sides of the crack and into the “V”.  Then fill the “V” with the supplied polyethylene sticks.  The screen acts as a re-enforcement to the polyethylene kind of like rebar does for concrete.

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Repair Complete

A picture of the completed project is below.  As I get more experience I’m sure the repairs will look better, but structurally, it is strong.

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack

Polyethylene Water Tank Repair – Crack – Repair Complete

Clean Up

At this point the tank is done.  While you are cleaning everything up, make sure you scrub the tip of the polyethylene welder, while it is still hot, with a wire brush.  This will clear away any residual polyethylene so it doesn’t bur onto the tip.

Amazon Link

Here is a link to the product that I bought.  It is a great kit that has everything you need except for the wire brush to clean up with.

 

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Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum

Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum

Goji berries can be propagated via cuttings and seeds.  This post is specifically about Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum via softwood cuttings. We will cover goji berry basics as well as provide a detailed how-to for propagating this little shrub.

Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum

Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum

Goji Berry Lycium barbarum Basics

The goji berry (Lycium barbarum), also called the wolfberry, is a shrub that has purple flowers in the spring and early summer followed by bright orange-red berries in the late summer into fall.   Gojis are native to China and are part of the nightshade family, which also includes tomato, potato, peppers, and egg plant.

Plant Basics

Goji is a deciduous woody perennial in zones 5-9 that grows three to five feet in height, with long arching stems.  The long slender leaves form in an alternating arrangement on the shoots. It flowers in early spring and the flowers are a purple to lavender color with 5 to 6 lobes. After flowering, green berries grow that turn bright orange-red when ripe.  The fruit has 10 to 60 small yellow seeds and ripens from June to October.

Goji Propagation Basics

Gojis can be propagated by both seed and cuttings. They need well-drained soil with pH levels between 6.8 and 8.1. Keep the soil moderately moist for the first few months or until you see new growth sprouting. Spread mulch around the base of the plant to reduce weeds and conserve moisture. Thereafter, allow the soil to dry out in the top few inches before watering again.

By Seed

To plant by seed cut goji berry in half and plant berry as seed. Several seeds will germinate from one berry.  Thin by cutting early sprouts to favor largest or prick apart if you can.  Do not soak berries before sowing, as the berries will turn to gel. The planting Depth is 1/4″ and it takes 14 days to germinate.

Softwood Cuttings

For this post we are going to take softwood cuttings.  Softwood cuttings are this year’s growth that started in the spring.  This wood is usually just slightly a different color and last year’s wood just looks a little more worn and older.

Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum

Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum

Make the Cut

Cut the softwood branches off of the plant. Then cut the branches down so they have four internodes.  Internodes are any place a branch or leaf comes out.  I usually go with four to six for goji berry.  Leave two leafs at the top and remove the bottom leafs.

Rooting Hormone

Dip the bottoms of the cuttings in rooting hormone.  I use dip and grow liquid hormone because I only need the one product and I can mix it as strong as I like.  Softwood cuttings does not require very concentrated rooting hormone, whereas hardwood cuttings require more concentrated solution.

Cuttings in the Planting Medium

Now it is time to place the cuttings into the planting medium.  Push them into your planting medium about two inches down.  Your planting medium should be something that drains freely and easily.  You do not want to saturate the soil where disease and pathogens will proliferate.

Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum

Propagating Goji Berry Lycium barbarum

Keep the Leaves Wet

These little cuttings will die if the leaves dry out.  You don’t want to soak the ground, but you do want to keep the leaves wet.  The best way to do this is with a mist irrigation system that automatically comes on.  I use the Galcon 8056 and have it programmed for 10 seconds on and 5 minutes off.  This runs all day, but shuts totally off from 9 PM until 6 AM.

Leave Them Be

The cuttings need to stay in the rooting medium until they go dormant.  This usually happens by December or January timeframe.  Once they are dormant, they can be moved to pots or to their location in the yard.

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Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

This Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse post shows you how to build a very cost effective greenhouse that is very sturdy and quick to put together.  The greenhouse in this post/video was put together in about a half day at a permaculture design course (PDC) that I was at this past fall.

Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Cost

The actual spend on the Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse project shown was about $180.00.  We did have some donated parts like the plastic film and rope.  If we bought everything the cost would have been $230.00.

Portability

This Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse is designed to be portable.  It is built on 2×4 sleds and has a rope connected to the front.  We actually built the greenhouse shown here in the back yard, about 50 feet away from where it currently sits.  We dragged it over to where it is at now.  Two of us easily moved it over and it could have been moved by one person.

The Base

The base of the Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse, including the sled previously talked about, is made of 2×4 pressure treated lumber.  It is 7-foot-wide and 8-foot long.  The reason it is 7-foot-wide and not 8 is so the cattle panel is high enough for you to walk in and out without having to duck too much.

Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

The Hoop

The hoop portion of the Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse is built with cattle panels.  They are pushed up against the base forming an arch.  The cattle panels are very strong and will hold up to heavy rains and snows with no issues.

We used fence staples to secure the cattle panels to the base.  Try to get the panels level to one another as you are nailing them in.  We then tied the cattle panels together in the middle with wire.  We tied them in about five or six different spots.

Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

The Door

The door of the Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse is a 2×4 frame with two zinc hinges and a zinc latch.  There is also a wire going diagonally from the lower front part of the door to the upper rear part of the door. This is to help support the door so it does not sag over time.  Don’t forget to include a string hooked up to the latch going to the inside of the greenhouse so you can open the latch from the inside if the door gets closed behind you.  We did this by simply drilling a hole about an inch above the latch and running a string through the hole and connected it to the latch.

The Window

There is a window in the back of the Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse to vent the greenhouse if it gets too hot in there.  The window is framed with 2×4 lumber and has zinc hinges.  We hinged it at the bottom and used some scrap lumber at the top to prevent the window from coming in the inward direction.  Then we used scrap lumber and made a latch at the top inside of the window to hold the window closed.  The latch only has one screw in it so we can turn the latch sideways to open the window.  We also added a cable to the top of the window to only allow the window to open about a foot.  If this wire isn’t there the window just flops down and will eventually rip the hinges out on the bottom.

Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse

The Film

The film over the top is just regular greenhouse film.  You can find it offered all over the place online.  Use caution when pulling the film over the top that you down rip the plastic.  If it gets ripped, just use clear shipping tape to cover the hole.

Make sure you cover any sharp metal before pulling the film over. We covered the sharp metal with duct tape in the middle of the greenhouse.  At the edges we used pipe insulation to cover the sharp edges.

We used staples and attached the film to the frame.  We then used lumber to cover the staples.  Without the wood covering the staples, wind and weather will cause the plastic to wear out at the staples rather quickly.

The Gaps

There are gaps around the door and window on the Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse.  I would recommend covering those gaps with something.  You could use some of the pipe insulation or some kind of soft flat plastic just to cover the larger gaps so you don’t have wind blowing in.

Other Uses

With this basic design of the Cost Effective DIY Cheap Greenhouse you can modify it to do lots of things.  I have seen one farm using these for chicken tractors. They totally enclose the structure with 2×4 fencing.  They cover the back end and back half of the roof with a tarp and leave the front side open.  That way the chickens have sun as well as protection if they want it.  It is portable and is moved once a day to give the chickens fresh grass and bugs to munch on.

I use a similar design at my homestead for a deer proof plant propagation bed.  I do this by not covering it with plastic, but using 2×4 fencing to cover all of the openings so deer can get in.  Then I have a path down the middle and use concrete sand on both sides to propagate cuttings.  This system is not designed to be portable, but does a wonderful job of keeping deer out.

Amazon

I just found a kindle version of these plans on Amazon.  Click on the link below to check it out.  Only $5.97!

 

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