Permaculture and Homesteading Q and A Series No3 Info You Love

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: 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 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

[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

[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

[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

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