The Benefits of Home Food Canning

Anyone with a backyard garden or a fruit tree is blessed every year with an abundance of produce. It gets ripe all at once, and very few families can manage to use it all. Some people give it away, and others throw it away. However, the best use for excess produce is to preserve it by home canning and eat it later, when the fresh foods are in short supply.

Fruits and vegetables preserved at home when they are at the peak of ripeness are much more nutritious than the produce offered in the store. The store food was picked while unripe and will never reach its peak of flavor or nutritional value. Canning preserves the nutrition so you can enjoy good health and your diet all year round.

No additives
An astonishing number of commercial salsas, relishes and sauces have been loaded up with sugar, salt, and preservatives. Instead of consuming these unwanted and often unnecessary ingredients, home produce can easily be converted into sauces and relishes – without the unhealthy additives – and canned for year-round use.

You may seek out the produce labeled as ‘organic’ in the store, but unless you grow your own, you’re never really sure if it is pesticide-free. Shopping at the farmer’s market can give you more confidence in how your produce is grown, but farmer’s markets close during the winter. Eugenia Bone says, “Preserving in an extension of the values that made you shop in the farmer’s market in the first place.”

Being able to can and store your own produce might be an important skill in case of a natural disaster. Home-canned foods can last for years if the power goes out. If there is some disruption in the current food supply, you can grow food to eat, and continue to eat it in canned form throughout the winter. Even if there is no natural disaster, canning your own produce is so much more economical than buying commercial produce and canned goods.

Environmental impact
Home canning has little environmental impact. You grow the food at home in your composted kitchen waste, can it in your kitchen, and eat it at home. You re-use the cans. Compare that to produce grown commercially using artificial fertilizers, trucked for thousands of miles, canned in a factory in a non-reusable container, and then transported to the store.

Many home gardeners work hard to generate vast amounts of produce, and then are afraid to try canning to preserve the fruits of their labors. It is, however, quite easy to learn how to can, pickle and make jams and jellies. Practically anyone can obtain the necessary equipment and learn how to do it safely and efficiently. The United States Department of Agriculture offers free on-line instructional booklet.

Building a duck pond

Here is Backyard Duck’s guide to building a duck pond :

What type of pond is best for your ducks? I’ve tried several variations, from the ‘high-end’ to the budget.

Fancy Backyard Duck Pond

you will need:

  • Heavy duty pond liner (will last around 4 years until it starts cracking)
  • Pond Pump (you can get a good deal on Amazon)
  • River sand (sold at Home Depot)
  • Peices of wood panel

For this type of pond, I dug a 7ft x3 ft x 4ft deep trench.  The bigger and deeper you can build your pond, the better it will be for your ducks as the water can get polluted very quickly.

I then placed the pond liner inside the hole and cut the edges so it would fit snugly. River sand was poured on top to keep the liner in place. Fill it up with water, add the pump and hose and give it a run to make sure the water is pumping smoothly. As an added touch, you can nail the panels together to create a nice frame and keep the pond liner from slipping inwards. Lake plants will keep the water cleaner and provide entertainment and nutrition. My ducks enjoy sea lettuce and duck weed. I had minnows that lived many generations. Be warned, though! Depending on how messy your ducks are and how big your pond is, it can become toxic very quickly. Toxic ponds can cause Botulism outbreaks – I’ve seen a lot of people report problems with their ducks looking lethargic and then suddenly falling over dead.


It is for this reason, after my backyard duck pond deteriorated, that I now only buy plastic play ponds from Walmart ($10 each). The former pond has been converted into a fertile Papaya tree garden. The trick about the kiddie play ponds is to buy two and stack them on top of each other for stability. I place my pond between two citrus trees. The duck poop / constant water supply causes the trees to produce wonderfully sweet fruit. You can alternatively buy one large heavy duty painting bin from Home Depot, they are basically indestructible, and a nice neutral black color. The water should be dumped out every 2-3 days to keep it pristine.

duck pond, duck kiddie pond, duck play pool, duck water bin

low end backyard duck pond

Ducks can also swim in chlorine pools without getting sick. I occasionally let my ducks have a go, as chlorine is good for killing feather parasites. However, it’s a ton of work to clean up the poop, which becomes a sand at the bottom of the pool. In the summer time, the poop causes severe algae blooms. Once, I went on vacation for 2 weeks and my ducks broke into the pool (we have a 3 foot mini fence to keep them out). The water turned BLACK.


duck swimming in my pool

DIY Garden Furniture Ideas

This article caught my eye :

Upcycling old or useless items into totally new products can not only enhance the attractiveness of your space, but also prove to be of a higher environmental value. DIY outdoor furniture projects can be sheer fun, at the same time make your garden look delightfully stunning. Here are 10 Truly Easy Yet Innovative DIY Garden Furniture Ideas that can work wonders for your home.

1. Old Wooden Drawers Into Planters

Old Wooden Drawers Into Planters

If you are fond of repurposing, then this idea of reusing old furniture for all new purposes in your garden is worth adoring. Box-shaped old wooden drawers can work perfectly as outdoor planters. Repurposed drawers can enhance the diversity of your backyard when placed alongside the regular terracotta and clay plant pots. They will look spectacular adorned with your dearest flowers or homegrown vegetables. Use garbage bags to line them, paint them bright or use bricks at the back so they don’t tip.

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2. Pallets Into Vertical Plant Supports

Pallets Into Vertical Plant Supports

A wonderful project for the DIY types, you can turn a hardwood pallet into an amazing vertical garden – perfect for limited space. Not only will it transform the space, but will be truly easy and fun-filled to make vertical plant supports with the pallets. An old pallet can be turned into a handy vertical garden with just a little time and even less money. An upcycled pallet, mounted on a wall or fence makes a great planter for compact crops such as leaf lettuce, curly parsley as well as dwarf tomatoes and nasturtiums.

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3. Tires Into Lovely Garden Stools

Tires Into Lovely Garden Stools

You don’t need to discard the old tires of your car whenever you replace them, instead you can get a little creative and transform them into something quite useful that would add really some charm to your garden. Turn them into original garden stools as rubber tires can offer a very strong yet comfortable base for backless garden stools. Place a cushion in between to make them softer and cover them with a colorful cloth to get that vibrant look.

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4. Wonderful Outdoor Tables

Wonderful Outdoor Tables

It’s great to spend some time outdoors, especially if you have some comfortable and attractive patio furniture. You can construct beautiful DIY outdoor furniture for the whole family with cedar wood. Use concrete blocks around 4-inch thick as the base and place clay chimney fuel liners over them to give the desired height to your DIY garden table. Despite the stout cedar structure, the refined design can deliver a simple but immensely elegant look for an outdoor table.

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5. Colorful Wood Pallet Furniture

Colorful Wood Pallet Furniture

Wood pallets can work just perfect for any number of DIY projects when it comes to crafting large and small furniture items for your garden. Create an outdoor table out of some wood pallets and use it as a mini dining table for your snacking or a coffee table while hanging out with friends and family. Plus, you can always design a contemporary-looking lounge chair or a swinging chair using wood pallets and color everything with bright, funky shades. To make the furniture durable and weatherproof, finish it off with wax or oil.

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6. Adorable Flower Planters From Cans

Adorable Flower Planters From Cans

By recycling some containers and aluminum cans into supercute hanging planters and flower pots, you can very well add to the summer celebrations. These flower pots are fun to make as well as great for gifting to a loved one. You can make beautiful pots all by yourself within a matter of few minutes by giving the cans and containers a lick of paint and enjoy color all season long. Use small cans for seedlings and large containers for lasting planters. Enhance the beauty of your pots with bits of fabric.

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7. DIY Furniture Using Tires, Wood And Plastic

DIY Furniture Using Tires, Wood And Plastic

There is always something that you can make with old tires that will repurpose them to give you an awesome exterior decor. Turn them into a variety of furniture items using in combination with wood and plastic. The elasticity, durability and softness of rubber makes it very easy to work with when it comes to DIY furniture projects. Creating a tire table, chair, tire tube seatings or a swing is fairly simple. Just tap into your creativity and design budget-friendly items that reflect your style and personality.

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8. Vibrant Garden Armchair From Plastic Boxes

Vibrant Garden Armchair From Plastic Boxes

To create marvellous garden furniture, you don’t always need to use wood, in fact plastic crates work equally great. An incredible armchair crafted out of a plastic box can prove to be an attractive element of your backyard in the summers and springs. It can be quite a comfortable and budget-friendly chair that’s just perfect for putting under a tree and relaxing in those lazy evenings. Just throw some pillows and add a splash of colour to rejuvenate their appearance.

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9. Startling Flower Pots From Concrete

Startling Flower Pots From Concrete

With a little bit of creativity, you can use concrete blocks to make your garden space ultra-stylish and appealing. Make gorgeous concrete flower pots very easily by using some concrete blocks as they are quite an inexpensive and reliable material. You can also add concrete wall planters to your backyard or mould them using containers from around the house. The grainy texture would work as a unique design element, whereas the grey base would let you paint the blocks with your favorite colors.

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10. DIY Wood Pallet Tables

DIY Wood Pallet Tables

Recycling wooden pallets into furniture has become very popular around the globe, not just because it’s a fun project but because it lets you craft lovely stuff for your home, in no time in a small budget. If you love to call everyone over for a barbeque in summers, you don’t need to invest in an expensive table, instead create it from the very scratch with the help of wooden pallets. It will offer a unique planked look not requiring a lot of decorating and effort to let you enjoy a meal with your favourite people.

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All you need to bring your garden to an all new level is your creativity and some stuff from around the house. Get inspired from the aforesaid marvellous ideas and give your outdoor space a fresh face by customizing it with your own DIY garden furniture, while making it more stylish yet comfortable with everything that reflects your unique choices and personality.

Choosing Your Breed

When choosing what breed of chicken you might like to keep you need to think about a few things;

  • Are looks important or are you mostly interested in the number of eggs?
  • What is you weather like?
  • Do you have enough space for full-size hens or would bantams be better?

If looks rank highly then you are obviously going to want to find the most aesthetically pleasing breeds for you. There are many ‘fancy’ bantam breeds that have attractive feathering. They usually don’t lay as many eggs (and the eggs are smaller) but they look lovely in your yard.

Watch out for : Feathered feet that can be a drag (literally) if you live somewhere that is often wet and muddy.
Very cold weather can be hard for these smaller breeds to cope with – extra considerations may be needed with the coop.

If you are interested in eggs than a breed such as the Rhode Island Red may be a good choice; they are a good size, hardy in all weathers, and lay eggs almost daily.

A Chick Flick.
Chickens exploring outside their pen and having a fun time. They are about four and one half months old. They are starting to get their combs. No eggs yet. Three Rhode Island Reds, Three New Hampshires and one Buff Orphington.

Menagerie Calendar

Here is the latest from Kerrie Hubbard :

But, I wanted to take a tiny break from the settling in to show you one of my latest projects. I created a calendar full of chickens, goats, bees, and more and thought you guys might like it. (I’m an artist for my ‘day’ job.) Would you like one?


The calendar features one of my paintings on each month and it all comes in a special CD case that also functions as a stand (to put on your desk, kitchen counter, window sill, etc.) They’re $15 each and for those of you in the USA, I’ll ship it to you for free. (Out of the United States, we can chat about fees).


These would be great gifts…teachers, animal lovers, chicken people (notice chicken people get their own category. ha), friends you want to give a little something to, the work gift exchange, etc….the possibilities are endless….(don’t forget to pick up one for yourself, too!)  Buy them here.

How to Get Started With Chickens

Starting from ‘scratch’ with chickens?

The basics you will need are a coop, feeder, waterer, chickens.

They will need bedding, feed, regular cleaning a nestbox for every 3-5 hens (even though they may cram themselves into the same one) and predator proofing.

Being predator proof may mean putting their coop inside a larger run, with top to bottom galvanised steel wire (chicken wire is useless) and wire going down underneath some way if you want to try to prevent diggers and rats (you do).

In return for all this your chickens will give you something entertaining to watch, enjoyment, and work – if you are lucky you may also get some eggs 🙂

They need to be safe, have space to peck and enjoy themselves; a chance to sunbathe when the opportunity arises, places to dust bathe in etc. etc. Chickens are sociable so you will need more than one – three is a common starting number (space permitting you will likely end up with more once you get hooked). Three hens laying 4 eggs a week on average (more or less depending on breed, age and time of year) is enough for most families egg needs.

Chickens in Winter: Happier Hens

It’s already been below freezing here and winter hasn’t even got started yet. Whilst I do worry about the chickens over the coldest periods, at the same time I don’t really worry at all. I know that doesn’t make sense. Really what I mean is that I shouldn’t be worried – chickens can cope well with cold weather, better than they can when it is boiling hot at any rate. They are quite well equipped naturally so even though my instinct is to be a bit concerned I know I shouldn’t worry too much. Here are the things I do to try to help them along a bit :

Firstly I check their coop over and make any needed repairs before the weather gets too bad. They want ventilation, but they don’t want any major drafts whistling around them.

I also attach thick, clear plastic over the chicken run as a wind break – it becomes a bit of a sun trap as well. Over the years I have tried other things; bamboo fencing, and corrugated plastic roof – neither have lasted particularly well through the strong winds we have every year it seems. The clear plastic has seemed to work the best so far.

I add some extra bedding to give them a little extra insulation. Also the nest boxes are padded out more. Whilst most of my hens roost I do have one who nabs herself the corner nest box on cold nights – I guess she is the cleverest of the bunch!

winterwheatI have never gone as far as insulating the coop walls – although that is an option for me it has never really seemed necessary.

They love their winter treats of warmed mash (and sometimes scrambled egg). I don’t add a heat lamp because I don’t trust them (I would be worrying more about it catching light than I do about them being too cold). However we don’t get as much snow and freezing temperatures as other areas do.

What I do think is important though is keeping the water from freezing – a heated dog water bowl worked well for us last year. We did put Vaseline on their combs when there was a weather warning for freezing. It is supposed to help protect against frostbite. Mine didn’t get any so it may have worked. I’m not sure I want to wrestle with our rooster again to get it on though – we shall see….