Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3

This post is Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3.  Topics covered include; Food Forest Garden Update, DIY Cheap Greenhouse, SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster, Hardwood Cutting Propagation, Planting Paw Paw Seeds, Kombucha brewing, groundhog repellent, free fruit trees, and more.

This is one of a series of Q&A sessions that I will be holding over the next few months.  These questions come from our YouTube channel, email, blog post comments, Facebook and even a few face-to-face questions.  If you would like to submit a question you can do so in the comments section of any of the above medium or you can email your question to me directly.  My email address is [email protected].

YouTube – Food Forest Garden Update WV April 2017

Background – I did a food forest garden update where I walk through the garden, show various plants, and also show some of the supporting equipment.  One of the supporting devices is a solar charge controller for an electric fence.  I use this to keep deer out of the food forest.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 - Solar Charger

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 – Solar Charger

[Q] Rich asks: What brand/model is the solar panel? Groundhogs ruined me last year

[A] My model is the “American FarmWorks 30-Mile Solar Powered Low Impedance Charger” and is a product I found at my local Tractor Supply store. Here is the link: https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/american-farmworks-30-mile-solar-powered-low-impedance-charger?cm_vc=-10005. I didn’t do any research on it and just lucked into a great model – or at least tractor supply carries a good model. I have had my charge controller for going on two years now and have not had one issue with it.

YouTube – DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Background: This video is about building a 8’x7’ greenhouse for about $250 with material you can find at your local hardware store and Tractor Supply store.  One of the items used are cattle panels.  The cattle panels need to have the cross-section pieces on the inside so you don’t poke holes in the plastic when you are pulling it over the top.  When we were putting this system together in a classroom with a lot of people, we missed that detail.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 - DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 – DIY Cheap Greenhouse

[Q] I noticed your cattle panels are on backwards, should be flipped over so cross wires are on the inside.

[A] Thanks! We were going fast with multiple people and that one slipped through the cracks.

YouTube – SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review

Background – This video was a product review of a cell phone signal booster.  Several viewers commented on the length of the cables and how to get an even better signal.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 - SureCall

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 – SureCall

[Q] Looks very similar to some of the systems we use at work. I second the shortening of the cables, it is suggested to use the shortest cables you can. Most of the models we use recommend the antenna to the booster be less then 75ft which can sometimes be challenging in commercial environments, but shortening the cables as much as possible does improve the signal strength.

[A] The kit comes with one kit at 50′ and the other at 20′, so that keeps it just under the 75′ you are talking about. I’ll take a look at shortening the cable next time I’m out that way.

YouTube – Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation

Background: This video shows you how to do hardwood cutting propagation.  This method is done in the winter time when the plants are dormant, with all of their leaves having fallen off.

[Q] Tom asks: Does this work for fruit trees (apple, peach and pear)? Or just a particular class (berries) of fruits? I know planting seeds of fruit trees are 1 in 100 of a chance for fruit, but did not know if hard wood cutting on fruit bearing trees worked just as well or in place of grafting.

[A] Hi Tom – the answer to your question is yes and no. You can root cuttings from fruit trees, however, they are usually grafted for a reason. First, you really want the tap root that you get from a seed and you will not get a good tap root from a cutting. More important is the other qualities that you get from the root stock on a grafted variety. That may be cold hard, disease resistance, dwarf vs. full size etc. You can certainly try it, but I’d recommend going to a place like raintreenursery.com and buying root stock. Get it started for a year and then graft on to it. There are loads of videos out there on how to graft and I’ll be doing some grafting videos in the future as well. Good luck.

YouTube – Planting Paw Paw Seeds

Background: This video shows how to clean, stratify, and plant paw paw seeds.

[Q] JD asked: Is it the Coastal/Pacific Redwood that requires this process? (this question was referring to the stratification process)

[A] Hi JD – I use the stratification process on a number of different plants. It helps the seeds break dormancy. I’m on the East coast of the US and not sure about the requirements for the Pacific Redwoods. Sorry.

YouTube – Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar Product Review

Background: Last fall in a PDC class I was in a class mate gave me a SCOBY for making Kombucha.  I have been experimenting with this tea ferment for several months now and this particular YouTube video is a product review of the Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar, a purpose built brewing jar.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 - Mortier

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 – Mortier

[Q] I’m getting ready to start brewing kombucha. I’m a little nervous if all will go well. Thanks for the review.

[A] Have you checked out my other videos on Kombucha? I added two detailed videos last month on how to brew kombucha.

[A] I did view your previous videos. Did you improve your flavor with successive ferments?

[A] I’m still working on the exact ingredients and are mainly working with sugar and ginger. We are at 1/2 TSP of sugar and 1/4 tsp of ginger for a 12oz jar.  My next experiment is to run the ginger through a blender so I don’t have larger pieces in the bottle.

Baltimore Orchard Project Spring Fruit Tree Fair

Background: This fair is an event run out of Baltimore City in the spring and fall.  They give away a free fruit tree to each participant who attends.  They also have a number of vendors that sell products, gives out information, and they also do workshops.  This spring I ran the companion planting workshop.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 - Festival

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 – Festival

[Q] From the crowd: I just received a Paw Paw tree.  What can I plant with a paw paw as a companion?

[A] Ramps are good because they are an edible, like the shade under the trees, and help to deter deer browse.  Hog Peanuts (Amphicarpaea bracteata) have edible seeds and “roots” which are really seeds that develop underground, are shade-loving, climb up and sprawl out (smothering weeds), and fix nitrogen.  Hog peanuts are popping up right around the time that the ramps are dyeing back in the summer, so they go well together.

[A] As for companions, I think of the usual suspects for fruit trees: daffodils, mints, garlics, annual legumes, bee balm, etc.

[A] Paw paw have fetid flowers, meaning they are pollinated by flies and beetles vs. bees.  Both mayapples and wild ginger have fetid flowers that attract the same sort of pollinators that pawpaws use, and they bloom around the same time, so that it part of my pollinating strategy.

YouTube – Groundhog Repellent and Deterrent

Background: This video shows my attempts to keep a groundhog from getting under my deck.  I’m only out at the farm on weekends and the groundhog is quite scarce when I am around, or I’d take care of him by “other methods”.  But since I never see him and it has been quite persistent over the last three years, I’ve waged all-out war with him.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 - Groundhog

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 – Groundhog

[Q] Highview Hill Micro Farm states: Fox urine doesn’t phase them, human pee on a rag in the hole will drive them out according someone from the parks department in my area. I will let you know how it works out.

[A] I’ve not had good luck with fox urine in the past either. I haven’t tried your other method though.

[A] from Highview one month later: Well my husband has been peeing in the corner of the fence where he entered our yard no matter how we blocked it, and I haven’t seen it in a week!!!

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Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 - Video

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 – Video

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Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2

This post is Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2.  Topics covered include first flush downspout water diverter, water catchment, rainwater harvesting, hardwood cuttings, protecting plants from deer, Michael Judd’s straw bale house, seed starting indoors, and cell phone signal boosters.


Great Escape Farms is now on Patreon! If you enjoy our work and want to help support us, please check out our Patreon page at: https://www.patreon.com/gef


This is one of a series of Q&A sessions that I will be holding over the next few months.  These questions come from our YouTube channel, email, blog post comments, Facebook and even a few face to face questions.  If you would like to submit a question you can do so in the comments section of any of the above medium or you can email your question to me directly.  My email address is [email protected].

YouTube – First Flush Downspout Water Diverter Product Review

Background: This video is a product review of the first flush downspout water diverter, which is part of the filtering system in a rainwater catchment system.

[Q] Thanks. Their own website fails to explain anything about the gaskets and the filter, thank god someone like you knows what they are doing!

[A] I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the kind words.  Be sure to check out our rainwater catchment video playlist for all of the “how to” videos and product review videos on rainwater catchment systems.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 - First Flush

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 – First Flush

YouTube – More Water Catchment Lessons Learned

Background: This video shows some of my many mistakes and lessons learned on my first two water catchment installs.

[Q] Why do you have the black plastic over?

[A] The black plastic cover is to prevent algae from growing in the IBC tote. The algae would clog my mist heads. By covering the totes with black plastic, it prevents sunlight from getting to the water which prevents the algae from growing in the totes.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 - More Rainwater Catchment lessons learned1

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 – More Rainwater Catchment lessons learned1

YouTube – Rain Water Harvesting Lessons Learned

Background: This video shows some of my many mistakes and lessons learned on my first two water catchment installs.

[Q] Hi, Thanks for the video.. I would like to do a rain catchment system for the financially challenged person living in a rental property. Please help.. thanks so much

[A] If you have a small garden, I’d recommend going with 55-gallon barrels. They are much cheaper and in some cases free. As a rental, they are easily moved when they are empty and can be masked or hidden to look better and not be an eyesore.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 - Rainwater Harvesting

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 – Rainwater Harvesting

YouTube – Large Rainwater Harvesting System

Background: This video shows from beginning to end of the install of a 1200-gallon rainwater catchment install I did last summer.  It is very informative and is by far my most popular video on YouTube.  The screen discussed below is a screen covering the inlet of the IBC totes.  The sole purpose of the screen is to keep mosquitos out.

[Q] Susanne suggests: I think a much finer screen mesh would be needed to keep mosquitoes from entering your totes and laying their eggs.

[A] Thanks! The screen I used was a fiberglass screen that is used in many windows throughout the US.  So far this screen has done great at keeping mosquitos out.

YouTube – Large Rainwater Harvesting System

Background: This video shows from beginning to end of the install of a 1200-gallon rainwater catchment install I did last summer.  I used a laser level to make sure that the four 3000-gallon IBC totes were exactly the same level so the water level would be the same in them.

[Q] Stephen asks: I know you said you used a laser level, but you are not on a solid concrete foundation are you, surely once the tanks fill everything will change right?

[A] I actually had no settle this year. I’m guessing that was in part because I’m on clay and we have a severe drought this year – clay in drought is as good as concrete. I’m moving to 8-foot round, flat bottom tanks later this year, so I don’t think even with soft clay I would have to worry about too much settling.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 - Large Rainwater Harvesting

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 – Large Rainwater Harvesting

YouTube – Hardwood Cuttings Pt1

Background: This video was the first in a series I did on taking cuttings in the winter and putting those cuttings in the ground to propagate new plants.

[Q] RV asks: So what was the success ratio, also don’t I cover them with some polythene etc for them to retain moisture?

[A] The success ratio depends on the plants. I had about 95% with Elderberry. I had close to 50% with blueberry, which was great because I’ve always had difficulty propagating blueberries. The video is about hardwood cuttings taken in the winter time when the plants are dormant. I have so many because I run a nursery. Most people doing this will just put the plants in the ground right where they go and put a little mulch around them.

Blog – Protecting Plants from Deer

Background: This post was about some of the methods I use to keep deer away from my new plants.  I have a lot of deer in the area and them browsing plants as well as fall “scrapes” and “rubs” are an issue for me.  This video addresses some of my successes in keeping deer at bay.

[Q] Mike explains: I use a double fence at about two or three feet apart. The first fence can be two strands and the second fence a single strand about one foot higher than the highest strand on the outside fence. Deer are good at height perception, but not depth

[A] I now have a two-foot-high fence that is 2×4” to keep the ground hog out.  Just above the 2’ fence I have one strand of electric fence with another strand 18” above that.  Then I have another strand on T-posts about two foot inside of the first fence.  I have had one deer get into the fenced area and it is obvious by the damage he caused to the wires that he made a hasty exit.  This system has been up for over a year now around my food forest and works great.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2

Q and A

YouTube – Michael Judd’s Round Straw Bale House

Background: I did a video walk through Michael Judd’s straw bale house earlier this year.  Michael actually gave the tour and explained a lot about the house.

[Q] I’m in Maryland and I would love to come see your structure as I’m actually about to learn building with straw. Would that be possible to visit?

[A] Hi Philippe, I did the interview with Michael. He runs ecologiadesign and you can contact him directly at http://www.ecologiadesign.com/20-2/contact/

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 - Straw Bale House

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 – Straw Bale House


Want to Help our Small Business Out

If you shop at Amazon, please go through our site.  All you have to do is click the Amazon button on the menu bar at the top of every page on our web site.  That link will take you to Amazon and you then shop as you normally do.  It does NOT cost you one penny more, but it does help us out!  Thank you very much for helping to support our small business!


YouTube – Seed Starting Indoors to Save Money

Background: This video was a kind of how to on starting seeds in your house.  I start my seeds in my basement every year.  I do this because I can’t find the non-GMO, heirloom annual plants that I want to grow in any of the local nurseries.

[Q] Do you have any experience with the LED grow lights? (tom’s wife)

[A] I do not have experience with LED grow lights. I have done several different kinds of fluorescent bulbs and that is it.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 - Hydroplanet

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No2 – Hydroplanet

The Video

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Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1

This post is Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1.  Topics covered include transplanting trees, cell phone relay, winter propagation, planting paw paw seeds, building a cheap greenhouse, and red wiggler compost bin.


Great Escape Farms is now on Patreon! If you enjoy our work and want to help support us, please check out our Patreon page at: https://www.patreon.com/gef


Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1

This is the first in a series of Q&A sessions that I will be holding over the next few months.  These questions come from our YouTube channel, email, blog post comments, Facebook and even a few face to face questions.  If you would like to submit a question you can do so in the comments section of any of the above medium or you can email your question to me directly.  My email address is [email protected].

YouTube video – titled  Transplanting Trees by Hand

Background: this video was about transplanting some rather established trees and moving them from the Pasadena homestead out to the farm.  I moved dwarf shapovia and Illinois Everbearing mulberry and mentioned that Illinois Everbearing was grafted.

[Q] This persons statement: I don’t think the mulberry needs grafted.

[A] Most mulberry don’t, but I have only ever seen Illinois Everbearing as grafted, so I assumed it was a requirement. I have done research online and found some vendors say they grafted this cultivar to make it more cold-hardy. I have also found other gardeners out there that stated Illinois Everbearing does not create viable seeds and is difficult to propagate via cuttings.  These gardeners grafted this variety just because it was the easiest way for them to propagate.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 - Transplanting Trees by Hand

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 – Transplanting Trees by Hand

YouTube – SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review

Background – This video was a product review of a cell phone signal booster.  I showed a lot views of the installation and discussed how it is difficult to make it visually appealing.

[Q] This views comments are: For aesthetics purposes, you could build it into a design of a windmill or birdhouse (fake or real) so it does not stand out as bad.

[A] Thanks for the suggestion Tom! That would likely work and a windmill is one of the things on my long “to do” list! For right now it is worth having the Yagi antenna in plain view and getting the cell boot.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 - SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 – SureCall Fusion4Home Cell Phone Signal Booster Product Review

YouTube – Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation

Background: this video is about taking cuttings from plants in the winter and using those cuttings to propagate and make new plants.

[Q] The YouTube viewer asks: I’m in wet western Oregon, and am thinking that it might make it easier for me to do the rootings inside where I can control the moisture content, otherwise things rot in the low oxygen-saturated soils we have here in winter. Would you recommend keeping the cuttings in cool temps, not house warm? Like my enclosed unheated porch?

[A] If you keep the cuttings in a warm environment, then they will not go dormant and you will have to do a mist irrigation system to keep the leaves moist. I have a different problem than yours, but with a similar solution. We had some cuttings that were dormant and we were going down into the single digits outside, which would have killed the cuttings because they were pots and not protected in the ground. I moved my cuttings into my garage which usually stays a good bit warmer than outside. They overwintered just fine. I moved them back out in late February when the danger of single digit temperatures was past.

[A] Another option with saturated soil is to mix in some sand in the area that you are going to use for propagation.  The sand will allow the water to flow through more easily and not rot the roots.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 - Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 – Hardwood Cutting Propagation | Winter Plant Propagation

Planting Paw Paw Seeds

Background: This video is about how to stratify and then plant paw paw seeds.  Paw Paw is a tree native to the eastern United States and is the largest native fruit to the US.

[Q] Thanks for the video! I just bought some Paw Paw seeds last week. They haven’t arrived yet. I guess it might be too late this year to get them stratified & planted, but maybe not. I have a few questions, if you don’t mind. Do the seeds have to be kept moist from the time they are harvested from the fruit, or just once you start the stratification process? When you plant all the seeds in one container like that, won’t the roots get tangled as they grow? How many years, minimum, before you can transfer them to full sun?

Answer 1

[A] The seeds do need to be kept moist from the time they are taken from the fruit. I have seen reports that germination rates go below 10% if they dry out for just a short period of time. I’m guessing that all the roots in one container will not tangle too much. The tap root goes straight down and it doesn’t look like they have many lateral roots the first year. This is an experiment for me this year because of my lack of space this year.

Answer 2

[A] As for full sun, I have seen as young as the third year. If they are in full sun before then, they may get sun burn on the leaves. If it gets too bad, they could die. Sounds weird I know, but that is what they say and I have lost a few that were in full sun. Congratulations on your seeds. I love paw paws. You may want to check with the person/company that you bought them from. I believe most will have already stratified them for you.

Answer 3

[A] He responded: Thanks for the reply. Yes, I checked the listing (on Ebay) & the seeds have been stratified already, so as long as they don’t freeze in transit, they should be good when they get here.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 - Planting Paw Paw Seeds

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 – Planting Paw Paw Seeds

YouTube – DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Background: This video is about building a cheap greenhouse with supplies you can find in your local hardware stores.

[Q] LRG Scully asks: What scale is it? Meters by Meters?

[A] It’s 7-foot wide by 8-foot long. That equates to 2.13M (213CM) wide by 2.44M (244CM).

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 - DIY Cheap Greenhouse

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 – DIY Cheap Greenhouse

YouTube – Red Wiggler Worm Compost Bin Update

Background: this video is an update on the progress of a Red Wiggler Worm farm I established last year.  This was my first go round on one of these and I received a lot of great advice.

[Q] All the worm juice is an indication that you’re too wet.

[A] That makes sense. I guess I need to cut back on the greens.

[A] Great Escape Farms I wouldn’t say cut back on the greens, but add more browns. My worms (same ones as yours) love cardboard. when I feed, I add cardboard to help with the water.

[A] I have a good bit of cardboard. I’ll spread some and add it later this week. Thanks!

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 - Red Wiggler Worm Compost Bin Update

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 – Red Wiggler Worm Compost Bin Update


Want to Help our Small Business Out

If you shop at Amazon, please go through our site.  All you have to do is click the Amazon button on the menu bar at the top of every page on our web site.  That link will take you to Amazon and you then shop as you normally do.  It does NOT cost you one penny more, but it does help us out!  Thank you very much for helping to support our small business!


YouTube – Propagating Nanking Cherries

Background: this video is about taking cuttings from nanking cherry bushes and using the cuttings to propagate and create new plants.

[Q] Graham asks: Do you only use sand for cuttings?

[A] I do use sand for my summer or softwood cuttings. This is because I use a mist irrigation system that sprays water once every five minutes. I want to keep the leaves wet, but don’t want to saturate the soil and rot the roots. The sand lets the water drain and helps a lot. I have found that concrete sand works great. For hardwood cuttings taken in the winter, you can use straight garden soil because you are not using the mist irrigation system.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 - Propagating Nanking Cherry

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 – Propagating Nanking Cherry

YouTube – Propagating Sweet Scarlet Goumi

Background: this video is about taking cuttings from Sweet Scarlet Goumi bushes and using the cuttings to propagate and create new plants.

[Q] MCDS asks: Great video again! Any chance of getting a few starts?

[A] I have to see how many actually take next spring. Whatever does take will be for sale at Great Escape Nursery: http://greatescapenursery.com/ We actually have about a dozen sweet scarlet goumi left, but they will likely sell out before the season is over, so get your orders in quick.

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 - Propagating Sweet Scarlet Goumi

Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No1 – Propagating Sweet Scarlet Goumi

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