ashley englishbookscontestsproducts

homemade living: canning + keeping chickens (contest)

by Grace Bonney

today i am overjoyed to congratulate writer, urban home-steader, and d*s editor ashley english on the release of not one- but TWO books! yesterday the first two installments of ashley’s homemade living series hit the shelves: canning & preserving and keeping chickens.

ashley has been working so hard on these books and to say that her hard work has paid off would be a massive understatement. i have been happily leafing through these books for a few weeks now and couldn’t be more impressed with all of the information she’s shared in each book. i’ll admit i’m not much of a homesteader myself, so i don’t know as much about canning or producing my own food as i’d like, but both of these books make me feel that even a novice like me could tackle either subject (assuming of course i was able to find some land to keep chickens).

canning & preserving ($19.95) is a wonderful introduction to everything you need to know about making jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys and more. the book includes 20 recipes, all of the basics for getting started, and all sorts of tips and easy-to-follow notes for getting your own home canning system started. the photos inside are colorful and easy to understand- and the section about throwing a home canning party (complete with pictures of ashley and her friends) is so sweet and endearing it’s hard not to immediately want to immediately throw your own.

keeping chickens ($19.95) is ashley’s (informative) love letter to keeping your own chickens. i sadly don’t have room to do something like this, but the book felt like an inspiring primer to get started with the process- even if you don’t have space yet. ashley covers all the basics for caring for a happy, healthy flock, including breed selection, purchasing, housing, feeding, and hatching. but my favorite part of the book is a delicious recipe section for making the most of your home farm-fresh eggs. the book really goes into great, but easy-to-understand, detail about the process, so if you’ve ever been curious about keeping your own flock at home, this is the perfect place to start.

to celebrate all of ashley’s hard work, we’re going to be giving away 20 copies of ashley’s books! 10 lucky readers will receive a free copy of both books just for sharing their own urban (or suburban) homesteading practices or wishes.

want to win copies of both books? all you need to do is leave a comment below with 1 of 2 things: a link to an image (with description) of your current homesteading efforts (canning, chickens, growing vegetables, composting, beekeeping, etc), OR a description of what you’d like to do in your own home. that can be a written explanation of what you’ve always wanted to learn and try, or a picture of where you’d like to grow a garden with a description of what you’d like to do there.

this friday ashley and the d*s team will choose our 10 favorites and announce the winners! so be sure to leave your comment by 12PM APRIL 8TH (TOMORROW NIGHT) and you could win a copy of both of ashley’s books!


Suggested For You


  • i’m actually entering for my best friend that is currently raising three cute little chicks. this past year she has been immersed in her garden adventures, and i know she’d love both of these books as an upcoming birthday present! here are her chicks: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_qIZcViNd1gE/S7Ars0uIetI/AAAAAAAAApw/_I3bIZZug9A/s1600/IMG_1462.JPG and here is her blog: http://stacysgrowinggreen.blogspot.com/
    thanks for this fantastic giveaway! as always, your blog is a treat!

  • I am hoping for some big mama tomatoes this summer for some good homemade marinara sauce to can.

  • so excited about this opportunity! i have been an avid reader of D*S for months and months now and Ashley’s column is a favorite.

    right now our family (living in metro-ATL) is beginning the process of expanding and enriching our small (quasi-sub)urban garden.

    my husband is an engineer and has spent many hours designing and building our 8×8 raised bed off the patio, a wooden vertical trellis, and platforms at the corners to hold and display our garden containers.
    this week is actually the week to select and plant around Atlanta – so our week is full! tomatoes, herbs, squash, blueberries, peppers….we can’t wait!

    i am so excited to see how our space- maximizing efforts will pay off with a bountiful harvest – such a FAR cry fro m our starting point of two small pots outside the back door.

  • Since i just moved i cannot grow my heirloom tomatoes this year. I loved growing new varities of veggys, but cant wait to explore the new farmer markets in my area.

  • I saw the title of this post and totally thought it was going to be an article about canning chickens.. haha – totally made me look!

  • Wow! What great looking books, and what a wonderful giveaway.

    Completely off-the-grid homesteading was for a long time (and a long time ago) my goal. But as I did more and more research, I realized that if I did everything I wanted to do, I would have no time left for some of the other things I love to do. So, over time, my ideal for my own homesteading life has developed into one in which I compost for my own gardens: for vegetables and herbs and fruits, and a couple berry shrubs and maybe a fruit tree or two. I would also love to keep bees, but I’m not yet sure if that’s permitted in the area where my husband and I just bought our first home. To keep the dream alive until we can start putting that dream into full action at our new place, I do sometimes make jams and preserves and can them. So my husband and I get to enjoy, quite literally!, the fruits of my labors.

  • I am dying to become much more self-sufficient than I am but living in a small apartment in New York City hasn’t allowed me to do much as of yet. My goals this summer are to diligently process my food waste so it can be dropped off for composting, to begin growing herbs and some plants in indoor planters and get the gear together to begin home canning finally.

  • awesome! here’s my vegetable garden when we first started it last august:

    since then, we’ve grown tons of greens and vegetables that sustained us throughout the winter, and our newest spring plantings are coming up now! we’ve even replaced our potted plants on the front porch with lettuce:

    great work, ashley!

  • I would love to can jellies and jam. I have also considered trying to make my own laundry detergent and other home products. There are so many things I can’t think of them all. I am not very good at making homemade bread/dough and I would love to be able to do that to make cinnamon rolls, pizza, loaves of bread etc.

  • I would love to can jellies and jam. I have also considered trying to make my own laundry detergent and other home products. There are so many things I can’t think of them all. I am not very good at making homemade bread/dough and I would love to be able to do that to make cinnamon rolls, pizza, loaves of bread etc.

  • Wow! I’ve been reading about keeping chickens EVERYWHERE lately. I would LOVE to have some, but I don’t have the space and i’m located within city limits. two strikes and i’m out! anyway. I am going to try planting some veggies in containers this year. i have a spot that gets amazing sun. i’m going to put a grill out there and a couple chair. a little garden nook i suppose. you can follow my progress here … http://inspiredbycharm.blogspot.com
    hopefully i’ll have a post with my ideas soon.

  • I moved into a new house in a new neighbourhood with no trees or anything over a year ago. My goal this summer is to get a garden going and grow some food for me, my husband, and our two little boys.
    I also just recently started eating eggs…I never liked them but they are growing on my and helping me get off the grains…so I secretly want to raise chickens there too..but i’m not sure what the neighbors would think.

    Here’s a picture from my bedroom window so you can see what I’m dealing with.

    Link text

  • I have been wanting to start raising chickens for some time now and the information Ashley has to share would be helpful and motivating!

    I love these chicken coop plans to build your own little space:

  • I’ve been following Ashley’s blog for some time now. I am so excited these books are now available! As an urban-ish apartment dweller, my land is limited. I’ve started an windowsill herb garden with basil, thyme and rosemary to tide me over, along with my plentiful houseplants. Eventually, I hope to have my own home and land to cultivate a small vegetable garden, with tomatoes, lettuces, carrots, cucumbers and peppers (to start…). I’d also like to raise chickens for eggs, sheep to shear (as a knitter, this would be amazing!). Having a home and lifestyle that wold allow me to provide for my family in a more complete way would give me so much joy.

  • wow. i’ve been reading about keeping chickens everywhere! i would LOVE to have some, but i don’t have the space and i am within city limits. two strikes and i’m out!

    I am going to try some container gardening on my new patio this year and i do make some delish jams and jellies! yum. you can follow me here http://inspiredbycharm.blogspot.com

    thanks for the chance!!

  • I just found out I received a plot for this season in our community garden, so I would like to learn how to can the produce that I’ve grown all summer to last me through the winter.

  • I cannot WAIT to be out of grad school and able to own a bit of land so I can finally realize my dream to raise chickens and have a thriving vegetable garden. Charleston, SC is an amazing city with lots of local food offerings, but there’s something incredibly powerful in being able to walk out of your house to gather dinner’s ingredients. Other than land all I need is a bit of know-how!

  • I am really interested in starting to can and preserve and I’ve actually been looking for books about it, but haven’t been sure what to get. I would love to be able to can my homemade strawberry rhubarb jam (Mom’s recipe) and Lemon Curd. I’m sure I would expand from there once I got the hang of it. This book sounds great!

  • This is a image of me working the beds in my garden plot at a community garden in my area>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryanhood/4470454454/

    Quite a bit of the produce that I grow in this garden I can for use during the winter months when there is not a large variety of local produce available (I live in Wisconsin). I would love to keep chickens but I live in a condo and so that is not really an option for me at this time. I hope that someday it will!

  • As a junior in college, I currently spend September-May away at school, and live at my parents house for the summer. Unfortunately, this means that I haven’t really been able to get into gardening yet. However, as a vegetarian of ten years, the idea of keeping your own chickens as a sustainable and animal-friendly way of getting eggs is extremely appealing. When I invest in real estate, it will definitely involve considering how much room I would need to keep a small flock of hens.

    Thanks for the opportunity, and for advertising what look to be two great books!

  • I would love to learn to can my own blackberry jam and pickled peaches like my grandmother used to do. Every time I opened a can, it would be like falling in to a Texas summer back home.

  • Within my home, it’s always been a dream of mine to create a more sustainable living environment. So far, I’ve started small with a compost pile and a garden slowly growing in size. Yet, I’ve always been fascinated with beekeeing. Although it wouldn’t be practical for me in terms of where I live, I’ve still held onto that idea that maybe one day I’ll have my own bees- and I’ll get to cook with my very own honey. Until then, I’ll keep up with my little organic garden.

  • So far, all I have are mostly wishes. I started last year with making rain barrels and building a raised garden, starting everything from seed. I have been curious about keeping chickens for a couple of years, and have always been interested in beekeeping. I grew up spending time (chores!) in our family garden, and helping my mother preserve it all. Unfortunately, she usually shooed us out of the kitchen when it came to the actual canning for safety’s sake. So that part of my education is sorely lacking. I just found out that my neighbor has acquired some chickens, so some day soon I am going to mosey on down and introduce myself to those chickens!

  • I have taken a interest in learning where our food comes from and have been horrified by the conditions chickens are raised, I would love to have my own flock to gather healthy eggs from. This book seems like an a great start to that goal!

  • I would love to own these books! We bought a small bungalow on 0.10 acres in southern Maine last year and I do not have much of a yard for gardening. Still, I was itching to grow things so I dug up all the existing flower beds (my boyfriend is allergic!)and I am in the process of creating an herb garden for the front of the house and veggie gardens on each side. then I will line the fence with berry bushes. Spring in Maine can be a bit unpredictable so all of my sprouts growing inside are patiently waiting. I’ve always wondered if we have room for chickens, but it may be years before I tackle that challenge!

  • I’ve just moved to New York City from Alaska, so I’m still getting accustomed to having a LONG summer… to that end, I’m excited about canning veggies and fruit from the CSA I’ve signed up for (http://flatbushfarmshare.wordpress.com/). I’m also going to try to organize a wool-share so that all my hippy knitting friends and I can use wool that comes from happy sheep! And I’m hoping to purchase a grain mill attachment for my kitchen aid mixer so that I can take the grains from my grain share and turn them into tasty fresh bread!

  • ahhh! awesome. i just blogged today about the fact that i’m getting a dozen layer hen chicks in may: http://enhabiten.blogspot.com/2010/04/orange-honey-cream-scones-and-chickens.html . i’m really getting excited about that plus trying to really make the most of my garden and local farms for as much food for my family as possible, including canning and putting by what i can.
    i have had chickens before but just a few at a time so a dozen is stepping it up a bit. i also have a garden but it seems to fizzle out too early in the season. i need skills to really keep it strong and healthy and productive all season. i have canned jams but i haven’t tried anything more complicated and i plan to this year.
    congrats, ashley.
    thanks for the giveaway.

  • a huge congrats to a fellow ashley on a major accomplishment!! I’ve always wanted to keep chickens, and a goat or two… not happening in brooklyn though ;)

  • My boyfriend and I just became part of a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) farm. We’re so excited to build our relationships with these local farmers–and for all the fresh (an non-chemically-grown) produce we’ll be eating this summer and fall.

    I plan to teach myself how to can this year, too. And I’m going to start us an herb garden.

    These books would be so helpful!

  • i want to create a blooming pumpkin garden in my small urban yard this year. i imagine that i will be able to look out at the yard and see those auburn globes come fall. i can’t wait to make pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin tart, and pumpkin preserves. if only i had enough room for the chickens too!

  • i rent, so no chickens for me right now. however, i would certainly love to learn more about canning!

  • How exciting!! I, too, live in the mountains of western NC and absolutely adore being outside. Right now I am trying to get all my information and supplies together to start composting. I already love playing in the dirt and can’t wait to get some super rich compost to use in my flowerbeds. I can’t think of a better way to reuse my own scraps.

  • I wish I had any property of my own… currently I only have space for a small patio vegetable and herb garden…. so my wish would be to some day have a nice big garden of my own! And I would love to learn the art of canning. This would be the perfect incentive to try it this year!!!

  • I love strawberries and peaches and currently have at least 8 qts. of last years peach crop frozen in a light syrup, and I’m eating my last jar of strawberry jam that I made last summer. It’s the best tasting jam I’ve ever had; good thing strawberry season has begun here in Texas! I’d love to have chickens but currently live in an apartment. That’s okay, because I still buy free range chicken eggs from a local farmer every Wednesday at the farmer’s market. They’re the biggest, orangest, fluffiest eggs I’ve ever seen. I’ll never eat eggs bought in a grocery store again. Here’s a link to some of my jam making fun: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22962802@N02/sets/72157623795898632/

  • http://i41.tinypic.com/saxnv9.jpg

    This is going to be my new home after I get married in November to my high school sweetheart. He is already living there, but I will be moving in with him.

    It will be a big change from my current life, because I will be moving from Fort Worth, Texas to a small town called Timbo, Arkansas! We love the location, though, because it is gorgeous. We are surrounded by trees, fields and cows :)

    We have already talked about planting vegetable gardens AND raising chickens. I have no experience with either of these tasks, so they are kind of daunting to me right now, but I know we can do it together. We love the idea of living sustainably and enjoying what nature has to offer. These books would be so great for us!

  • I don’t know if this counts as an entry, but it’s true.

    Many years ago a boyfriend’s mom had chickens and I fell in love with the idea of having my own flock. In the years that followed my chicken dream waned and was replaced with others.

    About a year ago my husband, daughter and I moved to Italy. The moment I cracked open my first egg and saw the brilliant orange yolk my desire to have my own flock returned.

    Yesterday my husband and I were at a street carnival/fair and we saw chicks for sale. I looked at him and smiled ‘the’ smile. He said, “We don’t even know how to take care of a chicken.” He was right, but I knew I could learn.

    Call it serendipity or whatever you like… today I came to your site as I do everyday. I smiled when I saw the beautiful cover of “Keeping Chickens”. Then I called out, “Hey Honey, look what I just found.”

  • Please check out my blog to see my efforts to eek out a little homesteading in my Chicago apartment. I grew up on an organic farm in Wisconsin and I’ve never really been able to let go of the idea that I can grow/produce my own food.

  • I would so love to win these books! I’ve just bought myself a house with a big enough yard to finally consider chickens. We’ve been composting and growing vegetables and herbs in the old house and I’m sure we’ll continue to do that in the new one on a larger scale.

    When I was a girl living in Tennessee, we had a peach tree in our back yard, and all summer long we’d have fresh peaches which my mom would turn into all sorts of yumminess. In our new house, I’d like to plant a fruit tree so my son could enjoy the same thing and hopefully I could get motivated to tackle canning for the first time.

  • i have been aching for a greenhouse since i saw a photo of one made entirely from materials from our local recycled-building-materials store. i am searching for a house in the country near where i live (first house!) and i know i’ll be able to build the greenhouse as soon as i have some land (not that land is required, it is just my goal at this point! with mature fruit trees a bonus!!). my best friend and i got into canning a couple of years ago and have a small following for our spicy dilly beans and chutneys and we LOVE the whole process. a greenhouse is my dream to grow enough veggies for most of the year to can and preserve and give to friends and family. it is so rewarding and the canning and preserving book looks gorgeous! thank you so much!

  • Hello! These books look absolutely lovely! I’m a medical student living abroad and traveling through my placement in North Yorkshire, England, and I always grow my own herbs and chili plants in the windowsill— and I’ve been growing potatoes and garlic too! I’m hoping to make some rhubarb preserves soon (because Yorkshire’s famous for it!)! I would love to keep some chickens, but I might have to wait until I’m a doctor first!

  • Each spring we plant as many vegetables as possible in our shady yard. Also, many groups are working hard to pass an ordinance in our community that would allow urban chickens. I can’t wait for that day!

  • I currently compost and grow some vegetables, but it is getting trickier as most of my yard is shaded. But I would love to take out my front lawn and turn it into all garden space, with lots of color and interesting textures. I think it would be so much more fun than grass.

  • My backyard is all hill with no real flat area for a traditional garden. We have to be creative while growing our veggies. Green beans grow up bamboo trellis i made against our house and shed, i grow upside down tomatos in hanging baskets. And I plant our running veggies at the top of the hill so they can grow and spread down. This year, i’ve managed to squeeze out an extra foot of space by turning our square stepping stones that line our small section of garden into diamonds. we will also add a full lenghth of steps around our patio slab in order to give more room for container gardens. I also compost kitchen waste in rubbermaid tubs and I’m hoping to add a rain barrel to aid in the watering this year.

  • Both of these books, especially Canning & Preserving, sound like a great place to begin for someone looking to guarantee the source and healthiness of his or her food.

    I’ve wanted to begin canning and preserving my own jams and vegetables for the longest time now; in fact, I was exposed to the idea first hand when I was 7 years old by my grandmother. She and my grandfather used t0 own a dacha (a type of Russian village house and small garden) in Kazakhstan where they would grow all sorts of fruits, berries and vegetables. At the end of the growing season, grandma would make pickles, preserve giant jars of tomatoes, cook jam, and dry sunflower seeds on the balcony. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but since moving to the United States and becoming interested in cooking, I’ve wanted to continue her traditions. The process has always seemed so intimidating though! And being away at school for half the year also didn’t help.

    I’m graduating this year however, and living in California where the climate and farmers’ markets are amazing, I want to begin making this part of my yearly routine. In fact, I will probably start with the apples currently ripening in our back yard!

  • I have wonderful memories of jarring pickles with my grandmother. She had the most wonderful garden, and I want to keep her garden alive through mine. She has Alzheimer’s and can no longer keep a garden, so I want to plant one this summer to carry on the tradition with my children. Her pickles and tomatoes were amazing, and she also pickled green tomatoes. I visited her where she is now staying, and although she cannot talk much anymore, we walked into the garden and there were a few tomato plants growing there. I picked a leaf off the vine, and held it to her nose so that she could again smell that wonderful scent of tomato plant. I know I saw a sparkle in her eye, and that very moment, she was back in her own vegetable garden, doing what she loved most!

  • Canning is definitely something I’ve always wanted to try. My great-grandmother used to make pickled pepper jam (great on bagels with some cream cheese) and all kinds of delicious relishes. I’d love to learn how to can and find those family recipes!

  • excuse me if i write a novel here because i am beyond ecstatic! we (literally) just bought a house and i have been pondering ways to grow a lot of food for my family without having a massive rectangle in the middle of our backyard. i have decided to till a smaller square garden to the left side of our house. there i will plant a few annual fruits and veggies and herbs. i have plans to do a lot of landscaping and in the flower beds or beside shrubs, i will plant perennial fruits and veggies and herbs. for me, incorporating them into the landscape highlights their beauty as both an edible plant and a beautiful plant. here are a few pictures of veggies and herbs that i plan on doing:

    leeks: http://www.plantcare.com/oldSite/httpdocs/images/namedImages/Leek.jpg

    lemon grass: http://mediaenvironment.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/lemongrass.jpg

    artichokes: http://hydra.usc.edu/langholz/images/artichoke%20plant.jpg

    i have a compost bin that i also keep on the left side of the house. for me, that is a must. we also have plans for a rain barrel once we get gutters up.

    canning is very sentimental for me. i grew up watching (and eating) my grandfather can jalapeno and crabapple jelly. my mom also cans zucchini relish which i have learned to make. i can’t wait to harvest my garden to can as much stuff as i able to.

    honestly, i am so looking forward to just being able to know where my food came from and that is was grown with love in my own backyard overlooking the city.

    thanks ashley and grace! :)

  • For 5 grueling years I was so busy studying architecture and working (often full time) that I had little time for homesteading type activities. (Instead we made choices such as buying from a CSA…) However while writing my thesis (which examined how & why social & architectural systems could be modeled on natural systems… blah blah blah), I spent a great deal of time studying urban homesteading activities, and how they can be supported and encouraged by the built environment. You can see a (pretty) peek of some of my research on the diagram here. Click on the image to enlarge it, and check out the ‘social systems’ such as composting, gardening, water use, energy use, shared canning kitchens, root cellars, etc.

    Now that I have graduated and recovered with a few months (er, almost a year) of extreme rest, I am ready to go full force. I made a list of things I plan to do or start this year, near the top of which is gardening with my husband in our little urban San Diego yard. Gardening, in my book, naturally includes other activities, such as composting and canning. (I already have the mason jars, collected for our wedding!) We have a little plot that we just weeded in preparation for spring, and are about to fence it off from our pooches.

    Even though we have not been active in raising animals, or installing renewable energies, we try to always embody the spirit by making choices that keep our life simple and our consumption minimum.

    Thanks for this opporotunity!

  • I’m currently starting my own nonprofit composting and food education course, which I’m hoping to pilot at the Stapleton Housing Project in Staten Island. The purpose of the course is to get kids working with their hands outdoors while learning how to preserve the earth, fight obesity (one can’t compost without veggie scraps), and build confidence. It also will help encourage the residents to start growing their own food. The food education part of the course will hopefully be supplied with bounty from local farms… it’s all in the works now, but I’m definitely in the need of more literature on which to base my curriculum. Either way, way to go! These books look awesome and I’m super pumped there’s more to read on the subject.

  • we have been working hard to make our yard as functional as possible. we just built our second veggie bed. we have raspberries and have added 4 blueberry bushes. we plan to add chickens this spring but are still researching the how to’s. i have never really been a gardener before and love the satisfaction of growing our own.

  • I’m taking my first whack at container gardening this year. I’m super-excited! I’m also hoping to actually can my own tomato sauce, so, y’know, the books would come in handy. ;-)

  • Those books look so so great. Congrats on publishing your hard work, and I hope I can win some copies!

    My photo is here: http://picasaweb.google.com/benandcarrie/NewAlbum41908933AM?authkey=Gv1sRgCLi8xai8gYKo3wE&feat=flashslideshow#5190980227859236258
    This is a photo of our son holding our Buff Orpington as a pullet. Her name is Nosy Posy and in the foreground you can just barely see her sister Bluebell, an Araucana. The photo was taken 2 years ago, and we absolutely love them still. We actually just convinced our new landlord to allow us to bring our chickens with us— she thought we kept them in cages inside the house and didn’t want us to bring them! Anyway I would love to have a huge garden with lots of chickens and bottle tons of produce (ala Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver). These books would certainly help me get off to a great start!

  • My friends and I love to go to each others dorms and cook dinner. As a college student getting ready to move into a house with a bigger kitchen this fall with some friends, this is a great opportunity! We’ll have much more space being out of the dorms, so I want to start growing my own vegetables. Being able to cook and share them with my roommates is another exciting challenge to look forward to this fall. I can’t wait.

  • Since moving to NYC from Michigan I have much less space for growing things but this year I’m supporting local growers and have joined the Park Slope CSA (http://www.parkslopecsa.org/)! I can’t wait for my weekly grab bag of fruits, veggies, and flowers and dive into what amounts to my own personal edition of Iron Chef.

    That book on canning & preserving would be VERY helpful!

  • Yay Ashley! Congrats on the books!

    Last autumn we moved into a house, after living in tiny apartments with no outdoor space for years. I’m so excited for this summer! I’ve got a composter going, and I’ve planted sweet peas, dahlias, tonnes of herbs and tomatoes. There are concord grapes growing in the yard, plus prune plums and crab apples.
    I’m truly inspired by my neighbours. We live in a mostly Vietnamese neighbourhood, and the backyards on my street are filled with long beans, squash and other yummy vegetables.
    I love having a yard!!

  • I’ve been waiting for these books to come out for quite a while now! I am really intrigued by the process of pickling and would love to learn how to can. As soon as I have a little yard, I’d love to start composting. Currently my dismal home-steading efforts have been a potted herb garden which always dies on me around July. Never the less, I persevere each year with slightly more hope. One day, when I have a little piece of earth, I hope these little plants will turn into a real garden.

  • I would love a copy of these books! My husband and I just purchased our first home. We are currently preparing our garden beds and plans are in route for DH to build a coop! These books would be a great help to start!

  • Congrats to Ashley, those books look delicious! Of course, I really would like to win them. I love Small Measure, and I can only imagine how awesome these both are. I’m all about the canning, gardening, and chickening, and you can see it in action at http://whatjuliaate.blogspot.com .
    I just got chickens, and I’d love to learn more about my girls. Ashley seems like she’s got a really good relationship with hers. I’m sure I could learn a thing or three!

  • Ohh, I’m going to buy both of these (if I don’t win them!). We’re in the process of buying a house and 2 of the things on my list of “what i’m going to do when we have a house” are start canning (because I will have a pantry…yay!) and get some chickens (because we can have up to 3 without a permit in Portland). Congrats to Ashley! I can’t wait to see the books in person.

  • Over the last year I’ve been on a DIY homesteading binge, doing as much as I feel my landlord will let me get away with(which, to be honest, isn’t much). I brag that I’m responsible for a total of 6 lives: my own, my two cats, a live sourdough, and two gallons of kombucha brewing to be decanted on alternate weeks.

    I’ve recently started dying my own yarn (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roboninjacowboypirate/4457348152/), screen printing (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roboninjacowboypirate/4462345456/in/photostream/), making my own cheese (no pics – it never lasts that long), and, as of Easter morning, making my own pickles (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roboninjacowboypirate/4493617307/). Next up: canning?

    I’d love to find a way to keep chickens and bees, but I think that will have to wait until I move.

  • So, can I enter for someone else? I have an amazing friend with three little girls who are all quite precocious. I love them all and recently overheard that they are hoping to get the okay to have a chicken. I would love for them to have a book to pour over to make plans with. “F” is obsessed with dogs and I secretly want to see how obsessed she will be with a chicken. “L”will be ecstatic that a chicken won’t bother her dairy allergy. “Z” has amazing taste and “R” bakes wonderfully and I selfishly just want them to cook something with the eggs! While I can’t post a picture without permission from mom, “Z”, “F” and “L” are amazing young ladies that are being raised by an amazing mother “R”. I can of course send a photo to you directly. I hope you consider this request as it would brighten all of their days.

  • My husband and I recently bought a house and in our search we told our realtor we didn’t care so much about the house as we did about the land! Exactly for the reason that we wanted to live off of it. The property we bought happens to have a little shed perfect for a chicken-coup conversion on one side and potting/seeding/veggie prepping on the other! This year we will be designing and constructing but next year the Murry McMurray catalogue comes out and we’ll be picking out our Silver Spangled Hamburgs!!!

  • I’ve been getting dirty and enjoying the delicious rewards of my work three summers now.

    This winter I decided to challenge myself in new frontiers. This winter I have been slowly learning to bake bread from scratch and participating in the Dark Days blogging challenge to cook local sustainable meals. Having a flock of backyard chickens certainly helped create some delicious food this winter: http://bit.ly/aWk4Fq

    Now that it is spring I am working on rain barrels and carefully tending my seedlings—this year the entire garden will be from seed. Looking forward to harvest time and the chance to test my canning skills. Its nice to be able to focus on different tasks and crafts as the seasons change.

    The books look beautiful and I’m excited to think about all the new homesteaders out there—there is something really quiet and satisfying about these little tasks!

  • We will be planting our veggie garden in a few weeks, as it is still pretty cold. I also have a friend who is going to be *making* me a large composting bin! For about $15 it will have the capacity to hold the amount a $300 commercial bin/tumbler does!
    Very excited to start canning more this year!

  • I live in a tiny apartment with an even tinier back door space ( of which I am ridiculously grateful!) And so I built a box and do my itsy bitsy square foot gardening back there, I am going to try my very hardest to can and save what I can! AND as soon as I get out of this city, I am moving to the mountains and raising chickens and goats, and maybe, just maybe an alpaca!

  • Oh it is my dream to learn to make my own pickles! I love to eat a jar of pickles in one sitting and then drink the juice straight from the jar. I’ve been doing it since I was a small child when my grandpa used to offer me sips of his “crazy juice.” By age 6 I was chugging the whole jar myself and have been ever since! I miss my grandpa every day and I can’t take a bite out of a crunchy, sour pickle without smiling and thinking of him.

  • Canning is something I’ve been fascinated with ever since reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer. I did a local jam-making session at a co-op recently, and my mother has been giving me tips. My boyfriend’s mother preserves sausages, homemade tomato sauces, and pears, and I can’t wait for her to teach me! I’ve always wanted chickens too, but it’s hard when you live in the middle of Los Angeles. Until then, I will have to suffice with my small herb garden and single tomato plant. :)

  • HA! I totally need those books! We are not urban homesteaders but rather very very rural homesteaders! My family has had chickens for about a year now and after a few run-ins with the fox and possums we now have a flock of 10 hens and 2 roosters. We also have 2 dairy goat, which we’ve only had for about 3 weeks, and we’re still getting used to it. I received a pressure caner for Christmas and I can’t wait to try it out this summer canning all the things I’ve grown in the garden.

  • To say that I have a black thumb is probably an understatement. In the three years that I have owned my house I have managed to kill everything from hanging plants, a yucca plant, gardenia bushes, and even a circle of grass in my backyard. Despite the failure of my past attempts, I still remain optimistic.

    In my dream of dreams my 40 x 60 foot backyard in Atlanta would include rows of vegetable crops, a miniature orchard, chicken coop, and potentially a goat for my pug to run around with.

    Realistically, this has translated into starting small. I have begun containers of herbs, tomatoes, and peppers that will hopefully translate into salsa for the summer, and canned tomato sauce for the fall and winter. My gentleman and I have been researching the art of canning and have begun collecting jars for the task with hopes of pickles, sauces, chutney’s and whatever else can fit into a container.

    Chickens, though. They are my final goal. The idea of a flock of heritage chickens running happily around my back yard fills my heart with such delight I can hardly stand it. In the meantime, we still manage to enjoy our farm fresh eggs from our weekly CSA.

    Baby steps.

    I absolutely adore Ashley’s ‘Small Measures’ column and these books look gorgeous! I would be so grateful (and pleased as punch) to be the recipient of them.

  • For the past two years I’ve had a small plot in a community garden and have totally loved trying to grow everying from dill to eggplant. Last Fall, after a very rainy summer, our garden plot was over run with an abundance of dill, over 100 carrots and lots of onions…so we found the biggest jar we could and sweet and sour pickled anything that seemed like it would taste good! I moved recently, away from the garden and am on a waitlist in my new neighborhood for a plot. In the mean time my kitchen has turned into a green house and I’m going to try to re-create my garden on the fire escape-fingers crossed!

  • What fun books!!! I used to have a small garden with tomatoes and peppers, but I moved to the city and don’t have a yard. I can’t even grow herbs because I live in a garden unit that doesn’t get enough sun. So, I frequent our farmer’s market in the summer and love it! I would love to learn the ins and outs from Ashely!

  • please scroll down in this blog post to see the way in which our denver chickens are very much a part of our diet and social life!


    our four chickens are a riot! they compost for us, give us yummy eggs, and provide plenty of entertainment. we’ve been learning as we go. we’re pleased with our efforts though it is certainly not without trial and error. to see a photo of us as “urban homesteaders” please visit: http://homeiswhatwemakeit.blogspot.com/2010/02/happy-valentines-day.html

  • My goal is to move into a place with a large enough yard to realize my homesteading goals. A vegetable garden with a lot of tomatoes is a must. I would also love to raise chickens, bees and goats. These are my dreams for whenever I can move out of my tiny apartment!

  • meet the ladies! http://bit.ly/jumillachicks
    we have had our hens for almost two years now. and enjoy them so much! would love to read ashley’s book on the subject. and our winter garden is coming to an end as we prepare for our summer crop – a canning book would be welcome!

  • I would like to learn the “ins and outs” of restoring old wood pieces of furniture. I would like to find project ideas that aren’t so time consuming that I can actually get them done even though I am a stay-at-home mom to 2 active toddlers (& soon a newborn!).

  • I LOVE this!! My husband and I just bought our very first home. We moved from a busy east coast city to a rural area outside of Des Moines, IA. We have a great big backyard with lots of space and although (having been city-dwellers for so long!) neither one of us knows much about keeping animals or preserving, we are so eager to learn! We’re planning on buying seeds and outdoor materials before we purchase living room furniture. :)

  • Intriqued by the idea of becoming more self sufficient I took an 11 day Permaculture course last March. I emerged a permaculture designer and have never looked back. My husband and I have made it our goal to become the most productive, self-sufficient homestead we can be and teach others to do the same. We have a large kitchen garden, numerous fruit trees, two compost piles, a worm bin and are working on adding a water catchment system to our home. I also help people design and install their own veggie gardens in an effort to spread the joy of self sufficiency and happiness through inviting the outside in. I would love to read more about additional ways to add to our homestead. Chickens are of great interest to me especially since our city just passed a zoning ordinance that allows everyone to have them. I also have experimented with canning surplus peppers but would love to delve more into what else I can preserve and help others to do it as well. I would LOVE to care for and promote Ashley’s books! Thank you for your consideration.

  • At this point I neither can nor have chickens but. . . my husband and are planning to buy a house this summer which hopefully means backyard chickens. For the last year we have kept a picture of chickens on the fridge with the phrase “remember the dream” on it. While it is silly and a bit of a joke it is also something we would both like to accomplish. I would love to can I have just been a bit scared of the process. I am transitioning us to all homemade bread and cleaning products so. . .canning would be the logical next step. The books look great and would be a big help in consolidate and streamlining my future research.

  • I am so excited about urban homesteading! I have been canning and gardening for a while now. When space allows, I want to try keeping chickens. I have a feeling these books will be a great source of wisdom and inspiration.

  • I have been in LOVE with the idea of homesteading since I was about 10. Lucky girl, I married a man with the same dream! Our favorite hobbies are gardening and canning together throughout the Summer & Fall. Hoping to receive a chick for my birthday and as soon as we move from our current location we will be raising cows, more chickens, honeybees, a goat, etc.
    My childhood dream is already half reality (with the canning and gardening), but once our animals are with us, my husband and I will be fulfilling our childhood dreams, together!

  • I am a huge fan of self-sufficiency, on top of being an even bigger fan of home grown and home made foods. For the third year in a row, I have condensed a traditional garden into (5) 32 sq ft raised beds. (160 sq ft total) We yielded just over 3/4 lb per square foot last year, and this year with some soil improvement thanks to my pony, hopefully we’ll hit the one pound mark!!! These 5 beds will grow Onions, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, peppers, tomatos, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, and cucumber, and cantaloupe. We also have Snow Peas in a pot with a bean tower on our porch, along with Lime Basil, Cilantro, Greek Oregano, Dukat Dill, Parsley, Thyme, Basil, and Echinacea, and Bergamot. Last year we yielded 137lbs of produce from these beds alone. This year we’re trying for 1 pound per square foot (32 sq ft x 5 beds). As of 4/5/10, onions, broccoli, lettuce, and spinach are already planted. Within the next week, we’ll be putting out 2 different varieties of tomato plants, hot & bell pepper plants, and planting the rest by seed. My dad always did a traditional garden, but since we don’t have the equipment, this is the next best way, or in my opinion, the ONLY way to have a garden. The soil is easily worked, and there are practically NO weeds. Did I mention this is 100% organic?? We don’t use any commercial OR synthetic chemicals making this homemade, homegrown garden my most prized project!


  • I am raising chickens for the 1st time this spring – in the city! I decided to get 10 chicks to raise for meat and see how it went. Right now I am keeping them in a basin in the mudroom. However, since I didn’t want to traumatize them when I did laundry, they are in my walk-in closet today. My husband thought it quite strange as he got dressed today.
    I am also using this as a teachable moment for the kids (ages 2 & 5). We worked to give them what all living things need – a habitat (fresh newspaper and wood clippings), water, food, and sunlight (heat lamp). Today when it rained we ran out with our buckets and collected worms for them too. That was good memories! We are starting to see their feathers grow in. It is great for the kids to see the transformation.
    We will move them to the kiddie pool in the basement next week and then to my sister’s house who has an old dog run & huge dog cage for nights.
    I am lucky that my in-laws grew up on an ‘old school’ farm and are planning on helping me with the butchering.
    This is a total learning experience and I wanted to start small. With books and the internet and old high school friends that were in 4-H, I am figuring this out. I feel it is worthwhile for our health, our spirit, and my kids future to venture into this. Maybe next spring we’ll try a pig!!! Happy farming!!

  • Actually, I’d like to give these books to my mom. My parents moved out to the country a few years ago to get away from the chaos of the city. My mom started a Master Gardener’s class in the area and fell in love with it, and has started her own little vegetable garden. She’s hoping to expand it so that there is a bounty of produce to share with friends and to keep for herself. She just started canning preserves from the wild blackberries that grow on their property, but I’d love to help her expand her “menu”. Especially since my dad has planted so many fruit trees out there!

    They have a rain barrel and a huge compost bin and are slowly figuring out new things to try out there. It’s so fun to see their property develop over the years.

    And, when we were kids, my mom decided to house a bunch of chickens in the garage – didn’t go over so well with the homeowner’s association! Now that she has her own space, I think she should look into creating a space for chickens again.

    Plus, I’d love for my daughter to grow up learning about sustainable foods and how to provide for yourself and not waste anything…to be a good steward of this earth that we were given.

  • I love this too. I just bought my first home.. its in Cabbbagetown a neighborhood in the city of Atlanta. I have never been good at gardening but I just planted my front yard with a camellia plant, day lillies, ferns, and an herb garden- I hope I don’t kill them. I really want to have chickens in the back but I only live on .3 acre, if that. I think 2 could possibly fit but the neighbors cats roam the fence tops and so I would be a bit concerned. I would love to get this book and learn more about keeping little chicks. Next year my goal is to clear out my back yard, replant a nice graden, and have a small raised bed for vegetables.

  • Oh, these books would be wonderful! My fiancee and I live in the DC Metro area, in a 600 sq. foot apartment, but we’re looking to move to a house with some elbow room and a yard. I definitely want to start canning once I have some room to store the fruits of my labor! It may take a while to get my guy to warm up to the idea of having chickens, but he has expressed interest in having a garden and keeping bees!

  • last year, we started tomatoes from seeds and grew them on our balcony. this year, we want some canning equipment so we can make tomato sauce and pickled green beans and carrots. these books would be perfect!

  • Congrats on the books!

    I’m currently part of small group of people setting up the very first community garden in my small town. Here’s a shot of where the garden will be:

    In preparation I have tomato and herb seedlings on the patio already: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/lfD0c-PKVIajMO05B_mIYg?feat=directlink

    My small kitchen will (hoefully) be completely taken over by canning when the first harvest comes in.

  • my grandparents were farmers who just retired 2 years ago. they had a huge garden and i’m really sad i didn’t take advantage of their knowledge while i could. as far as i can tell, i dont have a green thumb but one day hope to nurture and grow my own fruits and veges.

  • Oh, I am interested in how to make chutneys. My husband grew up on them and the store bought brands are lacking.
    This summer will be my fourth year growing a potted herb garden. Every year I expand what I grow a little at a time, but I don’t have too much extra space living in downtown Chicago. Last year, in addition to my herbs I grew tomatoes and hot peppers on my porch and this year I will add some micro greens. I use my herbs mainly for cooking but I also use herbs to infuse vinegar. I use the scented vinegar to rinse my clothes in the wash instead of that nasty fabric softener. Soft and good smelling clothes without the added chemicals.

  • WOW!
    My husband and I just bought our first home in October, and with a 10,000 square foot lot you can imagine our plans for the yards.

    Currently we are both out of school and working extra hard to get a garden growing by summer. I had the most darling broccoli patch growing until our new puppies, Ted and Rupert ate it… yes the whole patch!!!

    So, as you can imagine, we are in the process of building a fence to separate a garden from a grassy area for the pups.

    We’ve also planted some strawberries and a couple of fruit trees. I would love to have the tools to run a sustainable, eco friendly home, rather than an overgrown useless yard. I also adore animals and would love to learn about raising chickens— what a bonus… not only is it a pet but it actually helps to feed you!

  • My husband and I are about to move from our small Brooklyn apartment to a house in the suburbs, and I’ve been dreaming about what I’m going to do with all the space – and canning and chickening are at the top of my list! I couldn’t believe it when I logged on to DS today and saw the notice about these two new books–it’s like today’s post was meant for me!

  • I’ve been looking into both of these things as of late! I’d love to keep chickens and have fresh eggs just outside! It’s such a wonderful thing to do and so rewarding. Canning is also something I’ve been planning on doing this summer from fruits and veggies I have growing in my garden! What a great way to enjoy the tastes of summer all year long! I don’t know as much as I would like to on both subjects, so these books would come in handy! Thanks for hosting such a lovely giveaway!

  • I grow all my own food (and have been doing so for years) but this year I’m trying to grow something new: peppers! Not many people have much luck with this in my area. I’m also planning on using the peppers with my tomato plants to can all sorts of salsas… so it should be fun!

  • Yay! I’ve been looking for the perfect Canning book to prepare me for our first season of CSA! Since moving to NYC from Michigan growing our own veggies has been less that bountiful so this year we decided to support the local professionals! Can’t wait for our first Veggie/Flower/Fruit Share!


  • I work for a Food Security Non-profit and am trying to live as I would have others to live…growing my own veggies and preserving them for fresh food after the growing season. I have recently gotten a plot on an urban farm in town (www.jvuf.org) and am planning to grow a TON of food. As a single person, I need a way to save this food! As well as growing my own food, I am on a work-trade for a CSA box, which will give me more food for preserving.
    I also want to pass the lost art of preserving along to my community with classes and information sheets at local markets and parties with friends. Canning seems daunting to many and I want to help take the mystery and barriers away.
    It is time to take back our food and stop relying on store bought canned foods! I can’t wait to start doing this and this canning book will be a great start.
    My garden plot
    my veggies waiting for transplanting

  • I would LOVE a copy of these books!

    I am 21 and have just recently (in the past year) moved to a lovely cottage in the country with room for a good sized garden and chickens.

    I got my garden started this spring, which was a lot of work – its a 16×24′ plot that i cleared, dug, and amended myself – and goodness, it will be (and already has been) very productive!

    I plan on building a chicken coop and buying 3 hens in the next month.

    Local, organic flavors are my passion, and I hope to be as self sustainable as possible. I also have an apple tree and a couple other fruit trees (looks like peach and plum) on my property – cant wait to try canning and pickling in the fall!

    Here is a picture of me in my garden with my first crop – carrots! http://wildheartfreesoul.deviantart.com/art/2010-159910826

  • My fiance and I purchased a lovely 1800s restored farmhouse last year. I’m obsessed with gardening, and so and he with chickens. We actually had an old barn on our site that we’re hoping to turn into a chicken coop. We grew a massive garden last year, however, we’re still not quite sure what to do with everything we grow. We have strawberries, pears, grapes (100 year old vines that need managing), raspberries, blueberries, and black raspberries in addition to our veggies. Eventually, we would love to live mostly on the fruits of our garden, however, we could use some help. I still don’t have a clue about canning! Ashley, might you send me a book to help me?:)

  • Huge congrats on the books!

    I grew up in Amish country, where homegrown and organic produce was the norm instead of a luxury. We baked pies from raspberries we gathered in the yard, and we plucked lettuce right out of my grandma’s garden whenever a sandwich called for it.

    I ditched rural life for awhile and lived in various cities the past 9 years, from Providence down to Miami, and I really missed those homegrown vegetables. (Buying them at the grocery store really hurts the wallet!) But I recently bought a house in the country, with 6 acres of land. Now I could plant a small cornfield if I wanted! My goal is to map/plan out my vegetable garden this year and plant it next year. Canning is a family tradition too (I have 6 aunts who, together, could feed a small nation for a year with their canned goods) so I am excited to continue that in my own house. (Canned beets are my fave, and since my hubby hates them they’ll be all mine!) My neighbors are very into sharing farm-fresh eggs and produce around the neighborhood, and I can’t wait to actually contribute instead of just enjoying the fruits of their labor (literally)!

    Here’s a photo of me with a family of Amish girls who are our close family friends. Their domestic skills far surpass mine, for sure, but I’m catching up! We are deep in discussion, with them telling me what it’s like to be Amish, and me telling them what it’s like to be “English” (as they call us non-Amish folk).

  • As a fellow debut author and North Carolinian, and as an admirer of Ashley’s blog and column, I’ve been looking forward to her books for a while, especially _Canning & Preserving_. I’m a short story writer, but plan to give out small jars of homemade preserves and pickles at some of my readings this summer as a token of thanks to readers. I have a few home recipes–my mom is a great pickler and jelly-maker–but would love Ashley’s book as a resource for coming up with more of my own recipes (I’d also like to know more about protecting chickens from predators).

    By the way, I am so grateful to D*S for helping me and my publisher find my book’s cover artist, the talented Fran Liscio. Here’s a link to the cover art she created using relics I sent her: http://twitpic.com/jzqmc

  • I grow herbs in the summer. Small potatoes compared to other people’s initiatives!

  • The books look great. My boyfriend and I are house shopping at the moment and are really excited about finding a place with a little more of a country feel after years in the city.

    One of our main criteria for looking at a place is whether or not we could have chickens there! :)

    I can’t wait to get started.

  • We just bought 2 acres of land that we hope to plant a vegetable garden and raise chickens- there are even talks about getting a goat! We are still in our apartment saving up for the home construction- until the lots of time to plan and daydream about what will come.

  • I have been *dying* to try out canning, but too apprehensive and nervous to get going – canning and preserving looks like just what I need!

  • I am a university student on the third floor of an apartment complex. I am very very interested in the do it yourself/back to the land urban lifestyle, but with no land of my own, my options are a little limited.

    No matter – constraints of these kinds foster creativity! I am co-opting all sorts of landspaces for my urban projects.

    My current project is a vertical balcony container garden, using a shoe organizer as the structure – I got the idea from Instructables.com. I have the seedlings growing now (lettuce, spinach, green onions and pansies!) , and am hoping to transplant them in June.

  • Beautiful books, Ashley, and what a sweet idea for a giveaway!

    I am a small-batch canning fool, so I’m always excited by the prospect of adding a new book to my library — but it’s really the chickens I’m after.

    I have wanted chickens for two decades, and am just now bringing my partner around to the idea that we could make it work. If your book will help me make my case, I would love to have it.

    We’re tucked up close against a scrubby, Northern California hillside, so we have to be creative about space. Not a lot of obvious room for chickens or an in-ground garden — yet! I grow veggies in half wine barrels on our deck. Right now, tomato and pepper seedlings are about 6″ tall, waiting in a sunny window for May transplanting. And I’m searching for the best pickling cucumber for my container garden. But chickens! I dream of chickens.

    My blog, Hitchhiking to Heaven, documents my canning adventures, including photos, recipes, and stories about me and fruit: http://ow.ly/1vHuD.

  • I grew up helping my family raise chickens, and often spearheaded the canning projects we did (one year the neighbor’s mostly barren plum trees produced so much fruit some fell over! we made the best plum preserves that summer). I don’t have room yet for chickens, but I just bought some canning supplies and I can’t wait for fruit and tomato season this year. Canned things are such good xmas gifts.

  • My husband and I are in the process of building the chicken coop right now, we grow most of our own veg and fruit and we really would love to keep bees some day but for now we’ll stick with the chickens, my blog’s full of photos of our misguided attempts to live a greener life in our little city in the UK, but quite frankly we need all the help we can get!


  • i have been waiting in anticipation for these two gems! I plan on pioneer ing an effort in my yuppy, two income/two vehicle, mc mansion neighborhood this summer with my clothes line ( 25 houses, and i’m the only one hangin my clothes out to dry!!!) , backyard vegetable oasis, and hopefully a coop full of hens, and don’t even know how to begin!
    and i have been collecting all of the doo dads to start canning and preserving and need something i can read to get me going!! this would be perfect!!!

  • I’m definetely a beginner “homesteader” and loving learning! Last year we had a garden for the first year. So sad that we ate the last of our tomato sauce and soup this week. But the consolation has been the weather! Unusually warm and sunny for this time of year this far North.
    I would thoroughly enjoy these books as I am currently begging and pleading the hubby that we need to get chickens this year :)
    For photos of my humble March Garden:

  • awesome book ideas! i’ve been trying to convince my husband to get chickens… :D

    we’ve been canning various things for about a year now. pretty recently out of college we’re a bit clueless but we’ve tried our hands at jams and stock and soup. i like the idea of knowing where my food came from and what was put into it. for christmas we made an assortment of canned goods for various people:


    the past few weeks we’ve been working on getting our garden up and running at our recently bought home. 15 x 22 may have been a bit over zealous for a first timer, but i was too excited to scale down my grand schemes. looking forward to canning homemade sauces and trying our hands at pickling when the harvest comes in.

  • I would love to grow an herb garden. Hey I’d love to grow a real garden… but our land is so shaded… that it’s not really a possibility. : )

  • We’ve had a flock of chickens for 2 years and have enjoyed learning to incubate some eggs http://arbitrarymiscellanies.blogspot.com/2010/04/2nd-generation-chickens-romeo-and.html
    Being overly ambitious ,we planted a huge garden last year from heirloom seed and were not prepared to can that much produce, we found that the chickens love the surplus of most everything, Who knew chickens love spinach, zucchini, green beans and pumpkins? Was it my imagination or were the eggs better tasting?

  • We made fridge pickles from our garden cucumbers last year, but I’d love to go one step further and can them this season. Save a few dollars, reduce/reuse packaging…it’s all good. I recently made my own laundry detergent—works great!—which follows those same basic principles. It’s good for the earth, but also pretty satisfying for the soul.

  • Oh man, I am trying to inspire my friends and blog readers to start canning more in the summer when things are fresh! Would love a copy of the canning & preserving book to help me with more preserving, canning parties, and to inspire my readers!

    Here is more than a picture — it’s a video about how I recently set up a easy worm composting bin, and directions for how others can too!


    Thanks so much for offering this to d*s readers!

  • Not a lot of space at my little abode, but I absolutely LIVE to grow basil in the summer. I freeze the whole leaves in mason jars–they behave not unlike fresh leaves and you can pull out just what you need. And pesto. PESTO! I make great heaps of it, freeze it in ice cube trays, then pop the cubes out and put in containers in the freezer. I make cliantro pesto while I’m at it. It’s like little cubes of summer in your Frigidaire. Yee-haw!!

  • Only an hour ago I was chatting with a friend (over some tasty pickled beets & eggs – apropos, I thought) about her plans for keeping a small flock of chickens.

    She lives in a dreamy log cabin and is my culinary kindred spirit, and she inspires me with her gardens, grapevines, and canning cellar.

    She is generous, welcoming, and opens her doors to any and all. She understands the importance of freshly baked bread, an earthy zinfandel, berry preserves, flourless chocolate cake, artisan cheese, and perfectly poached eggs.

    She adores books.

    I live on a tiny city lot, but have big plans…I’m hugley inspired by my friend – but I could use some help!

    I’ll share the books with her, I promise. She’d love ’em.

  • I would love to start growing something on my balcony – it’s pretty small, and my track record with gardening is abysmal (ie. plants see me coming and die to protect themselves), but I really want to try. I’m also really interested in canning and preserving – if I can’t get things to grow, we have amazing local farmers markets. I’ve been married almost two years, and cooking for a family instead of for one is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I love it, and I want to learn more about how to do it (and do it well), as much from scratch as I can. Thanks for running the contest!

  • I have really loved Ashley’s columns and am so excited for these books!

    We moved from Boston to New Mexico two years ago and have slowly been incorporating homesteading efforts into our new life. This is incredibly important to me, as growing up in Vermont, my grandmother had a half-acre vegetable garden that fed my grandparents for most of the year, along with chickens, a dairy cow, and lambs for meat. I really admired the sustainability of her life (and the fact that she still gardens at 96—wow) and want to incorporate that into my own.

    Currently we are trying to supplement our CSA box with a raised-bed and container gardens. It is a really challenge to mentally make the switch from New England gardening to water-smart, heat-tolerant needs of NM. We also plan on adding a few chickens in the next year, hopefully, as well as xeriscaping some of our property and using native plants to attract butterflies and bees.

    I document our efforts here:

  • I am giddy about these books! I have been wanting to try canning for some time now but am fearful that something would go wrong and I would kill anyone who ate whatever I had made… That being said I have done some very successful refrigerated pickled beats that were, I like to tell myself a step in the correct direction.
    As a child my best friends grandmother lived in a small town in Missouri, and I remember going to her house and spending hours in her pantry. It was full of all kinds of amazing things that she had canned from her garden. I hope one day to be one of those women.
    As for chickens and eggs, alas I have no room, but find myself with numerous friends who have chickens, in Baltimore City, or are planning to start a gang this year. It is wonderful to have access to such amazing eggs.

    Good luck with the books, I can’t wait to get my hands on some copies!

  • This year we started our composter, and built raised beds for the garden. My HOA outlaws chickens but all I have to do is get 2/3s of 400 houses to vote yes and I should be able to go! O.O I’ve recently started canning and love it. My family has been told in no uncertain terms that I will take all empty canning jars, no matter how big or small.

    Here’s a recent post on our garden beds. There’s lots more on gardening and canning as well.
    Garden pictures: http://www.runawayoctober.com/2010/03/kinda-wordless-gardening-wednesday/

  • Growing up, both our families had a backyard garden. My husband’s parents’ garden was considerably more substantial than my own parents’, but nonetheless, by the time we were five, we both knew a carrot was a miracle that happened underground and that those frozen peas in December were a sorry substitute for what happens in June. In fact, gorging on the peas that were always planted by our woodpile is one of my earliest memories.

    When we bought our first house, Lawnboy and I were smart enough to close on it in January, which left just (barely) enough time to dig up some of the grass in the lovely southern-exposed back yard, so we could get the babies in the ground by March and April. We learn as we go, and five years later, we can look back on our garden journal and have been able to improve on what we started. We are no longer “on a break” from our friends the Cabbage Family, we have finally figured out the mysteries of those delicate and delicious plants. We know to rotate everything, and we know that if the tomatoes have blossom end rot, they aren’t getting enough calcium.

    But why do we keep doing it?

    Because sustaining our lives with some dirt and tiny seeds are the closest we could ever get to understanding the meaning of our existence. Because our kids deserve to know that potatoes don’t come in mesh bags, and that while onions may rot, leeks are with us all year round. Because every time we watch a seed grow we’re reminded of how miraculous and sacred life is. Not just the pumpkin, not our darling baby boys, not the soldiers everywhere, but ALL life. Because it is reassuring to know that we don’t have to rely solely on the industrial economy to put food in our mouths. Because there will come a time when our children, or our children’s children, might not have a choice in the matter. Because life is about the survival of genes. And we want ours to survive.

  • I would love to win either of these books! I have become a fan of Ashley’s through this site and love reading her columns; they are always engaging.

    My husband and I began our gardening last summer in our new home, and dug out a huge patch of yard where we planted veggies and hand-me-down perennials (I took anything and everything from friends and family). We went from this:

    to this:


    and are at it again this year, with seeds starting indoors. We had great success with our veggies last year but didn’t try any canning. This year we have also joined a CSA so we are going to NEED to do some serious canning with all our lovely local produce.

    One last one, I like to call: A Portrait of Back Pain. I guess I never learned to lift with the knees…


  • We are no longer renters! I finally have home with a big yard for a garden and I never considered having chickens! I love the designs of the books and hope I win.

  • My mum and dad took us to pick berries every summer when I was little. Dad would scope out the best blackberry patches and then bundle us in long sleeves and pants and we’d sweat all the way there, get prickled and scratched all day, and come home sleepy and stained purple. We were rewarded with a bowl of berries and cream for dessert that night. The next day though, was the best part. My mum would set us up with bowls of washed berries and sugar. “Mash them all up and don’t eat too much!” What could be better than a bowl of sugar and berries that stain everything when you’re little? I was probably purple for weeks.
    I haven’t canned much since moving away from home; this picture http://imgur.com/XejMl.jpg is my efforts from last year, along with a couple gifts from friends. I’d love to learn more and then maybe when I visit my parents this summer, I can teach them something.

  • Our home has recently been invaded by bees! They had built a huge hive in the outer wall of our house and as I was researching online, I became totally obsessed with the idea of beekeeping. I’ve been eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich for breakfast in the morning and dreaming of harvesting my own honey one day *sigh*

  • I’m such an “old school” homesteader that I do not have a blog or facebook page so here’s my description:

    Both of my grandmothers were prolific gardeners and canners. My sister and I canned dill pickles one year, but used the wrong kind of salt and they were not eatable. My dream is to have enough tomatoes this year, to can. Sadly, I didn’t learn how to can from the Grandmas. This book would resolve that deficiency. I welcome the chance to try dill pickles again, too!

  • I love these books because I am trying to make learn how to go back to basics. I am learning how to sew and I love to cook most of my own food. When I have a yard of my own, I would love to be able to grow fruits and vegetables and have chickens! Right now, I just grow my own herbs on my patio.

  • Well, I’ve been canning for a long time. I’ve had a fascination with this lost domestic art for a long time and am delighted that its making a come back! No longer am I teased for being grandmotherly. What’s new is that now I have the space to grow my own fruits and vegetables for canning. My dreams? Chickens! I REALLY, REALLY want chickens. So badly. I have the space, I just need to get my spouse on board. He is not game at this point. I even tried to negotiate this as my payback for his second Vegas trip in 2 months. To no avail. He’ll come around though, I know it. And once we have the chickens and my kids are a bit older then we’ll get bees too.

  • I adore this contest! Amazing and inspiring to read the other entries, and I love the books! :-)

    I’m taking baby steps toward my ultimate goal, within my current confines of a rented duplex.

    I have an ultimate vision – a large yard, a garden and fruit trees and space for blackberry bushes and a grape arbor. A clothesline. A small workshop for tinkering/storage. A chicken coop. It’s all very idealistic, I know, but I can see it so clearly it’s almost like I’m there…I’m working toward the goal.

    For now, I’m doing everything I can with the space I have. I confess that I’ve never been much of a gardener (which is actually rather embarrassing, given the fact that everyone on both sides of my family has been quite proficient at it…it should be in my genes!), but this year I planted a small container garden on our balcony – pictures here:

    Beyond that, I’m living the lifestyle as much as I can, inside. I’ve always been a proponent of simple, fresh homemade foods – I bake most of our bread and rarely give in to convenience items. I can’t have that clothesline yet, but I do hang-dry all our clothes (and will be experimenting with soap nuts in place of detergent, soon!). And I’ve been promised my grandma’s canning supplies, just as soon as I make it out to her house to retrieve them :-)

    My husband and I try to live our lives as simply and cleanly as possible, in ways which necessitate minimal inconvenience but offer maximum impact – we avoid plastics wherever possible, we get much of our produce from the farmer’s market, we avoid harsh cleaning agents and buy locally-sourced items whenever possible. Small steps which hopefully add up to a great impact :-)

    It is also our hope that by living this lifestyle now, our later goals will come even more readily – we’re currently childless but plan on cloth diapering and breastfeeding; when we buy a house we will choose one of quality materials and an open location; we’ll add solar panels to our roof.

    In short, we want to do everything we can to provide our family with a simple, healthy lifestyle that is good for our bodies and good for the planet :-)

  • I am super excited to can all of my homegrown goodies this fall. Hopefully i will have a bountiful crop.

  • My husband and I are planting a veggie garden for the first time this year! It will include green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, and a whole bunch of herbs. We are trying a modified version of square foot gardening in a raised bed in a retaining wall. If we are successful we hope to build more beds next year… and are even considering chickens in the future! We love the idea of being self-sustaining. Too bad you can’t grow food year round in New England!

  • Great giveaway! I would love to own either of these books! Even though my fiancee and I live in a small Brooklyn apartment, we still try to grow as much of our own food as we can, including herbs on our windowsills, and belong to our neighborhood CSA. We’ve also really gotten into canning and preserving over the past few years, mostly with pickles and jam, and plan on experimenting with some of our CSA veggies this summer. We dream of having a garden of our own, and would love to one day keep chickens and bees as well.

  • I live in a condo, so the chickens are out, unfortunately. I live vicariously through chicken-raising friends. But I have plans, eventually, for a fenced in patio with lots of space around it to grow more herbs than my little potted herb garden allows, tomatoes, radishes and asparagus. And lots of flowers, because they’re pretty. In the meantime, I’ve joined a CSA and will be receiving shares of veggies…enough for 2-3 adults per week, and it’s just little ole me there…so, canning is definitely in the plans starting this May or June! I’d love to have the books to learn and do, and to dream.

  • Currently, my partner and I are great great freezers. We freeze tons of fruit and freezer jam each summer. Our goal for this year is to teach ourselves how to compost effectively in anticipation for building raised planting beds next year.

  • My homsteading efforts in Wisconsin include: keeping chickens! (we give away almost all our eggs, and are planning on making chicken noodle soup with our two hens to make room for our 4 new chicks), drying laundry on the line in summer, buying produce from local farms, having a garden, composting, and being creative with the resources we have. My husband & I try to do DIY projects: like making rechargeable lanterns, and using almost all free/found materials found on the side of the road.

    Chickens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/_kristy_/sets/72157600312195114/
    Coop tours I’ve been in or helped organize: http://www.flickr.com/photos/_kristy_/collections/72157622055775950/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/_kristy_/collections/72157622055775950/
    DIY Lanterns: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zagnut999/4482594195/

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ladyhoov/4500614438/

    At our house, three blocks from the beach in Santa Cruz, CA, we have built a premium beachfront Chicken Coop that houses our three ladies: Jackie O, Eleanor & Lady Bird Johnson. Our first ladies give us fresh beautiful eggs everyday.

    We are all very interested in urban farming and are toying with the idea of a Pygmy goat.

    *** The books look great & very informative. Hope to get a chance to see them soon***

  • I had my first canning experience last year, and I can’t wait to can again this year. We have several fruit trees and usually plant a small garden. This year I’m hoping to expand our garden a little, plant more berry bushes, and build a compost bin. We’ve also considered getting a few chickens, though we have a few issues to overcome first. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is raise goats! I love those little critters!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/knittinginheels/3964365882/ is just one of a series of pictures we took last summer while putting up some tomato sauce and whole tomatoes- it’s served as a how-to of sorts for several of our friends! We can as much as possible, both from our CSA and from the excess of friends’ gardens. I’d love to have chickens, but, alas, we rent- my parents are considering it though! They have an “urban homestead”, and grow enough food for the two of them to eat all summer and most of the winter. I’d love to share the chicken book with them!

  • Yay chickens and canning! I never thought I would say that 5 or so years ago but here I am. My husband and I relocated from a major city to the country about a year and a half ago and have been working the land ever since. We planted a large garden plot and have grown several heirloom vegetable varieties and we also have a smaller herb garden beside our barn. Here are a few photos:



    We also have 3 apple trees, a pear tree and a baby cherry tree that we made our first preserves from last year (well, my husband did) and we’re hooked! We’d love to learn a lot more about canning and preserving as we made several errors last year trying to can some of our homemade tomato sauce and a few of them exploded in the cupboard!

    We plan on getting 3-5 chickens this fall and we’re about to babysit a gaggle of our neighbor’s chickens while they go on vacation – we need the practice for our own.

    These books would indeed be our bible!


  • As an apartment dweller, I’d love to know how to grow flowers and veggies on my balcony.

    I love fresh veggies, and would love nothing more than to spend time relaxing by gardening and caring for my plants, then enjoying the fruits of my labor.

    These books would be a great addition to my library!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/zeman/2640426121/in/set-72157605998927840/

    This is a photo of my husband (then boyfriend) and I making our first batch of pickled onions together 6 years ago. Since then we’ve bought and sold houses, had 2 babies, done lots of preserving and created many special occasion cakes together. Mark even ended his wedding speech with The Pickling Song:
    “Hey little onions, hey big picklers,
    hey little onions, hey big picklers, watcha doin?
    hey little onions, we’re making more little onions……”.
    My fascination with preserving was handed down to me by my maternal grandmother Mary. I have strong childhood memories of peeling mountains of peaches at her kitchen table with Nana and my mother. I am grateful I married a man who is happy to embrace ‘homesteading’ with me!
    Katherine, Auckland, New Zealand

  • learning to can my own vegetables is on my list of life lessons still to be learned. I have a small container garden that I keep on my patio, but I don’t grow enough to can anything just yet. I would love to expand my container garden this year! Perhaps some day I will have yard enough for garden and flock.

  • I am planning on following up on a yearly tradition of picking figs from a family fig tree and making fig jam. This week, I also want to fill my home with the smell of freshly baked bread!

  • I want to eventually have a garden where I can plant tomato’s, herbs, etc. and then bring those in and make fresh salsa. In a far off dream, I kind of want to be a farmer and have chickens and a cow so I can have fresh eggs and milk and even make cheese. Dreams are dear to my heart :)

  • I would love to learn how to can :) the summer fruits and veggies are already on my mind!

  • I would really love these books. We just started getting a CSA box and the canning and preserving book would be very useful is using up some of those hard to think of anything to do with vegetables. I really enjoy making and eating pickled eggs so I could use both books combined for that pursuit. We live in a small rental house with a compleately patio back yard but I love growing fruit trees from seed. Someday hopefully I will be able to put some of my trees in the ground. Here is a photo of my mamey tree and java plum tree right after they sprouted. They are in slightly bigger pots now. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3093/3523499618_cec5789304_b.jpg

  • These books look awesome! I really hope to plant a bigger garden this year so that I have extra for canning. I dream of a big pantry well-stocked with home-canned goodies.

  • Hey!
    I am a suburban girl who grew up eating processed out-of-the-box foods with little connection to the earth they come from. This piqued my curiosity and I’ve food myself deeply interested in organic gardening, urban and rural homesteading, and all kinds of things related to sustainability!

    At a recent local farmer’s expo in Kansas City I found talked with a girl who works at a local urban homestead right in the middle of KC. This homestead offers organic local produce and classes pertaining to urban homesteading such as raising backyard chickens and making plant-based medicines. I was so excited to learn about this resource with passionate hands behind it, right here, in the heart of America. Check it out!


  • So excited about these titles!

    Having grown up with a large organic garden at my parents house, my urban gardening and homesteading practices only continue to flourish the longer I live in what might be the epicenter of urban homesteading in America – Detroit.

    Though the city gets a lot of press for its auto industry woes and post-industrial trauma, what is less publicized is the amazing environmental movement that is growing out of a city with massive amounts of green space.

    Having moved to Detroit just about two years ago, my roommate and I started a large-scale community garden in our neighborhood, Woodbridge, a residential area that flanks the city’s cultural center. We installed twenty 4×8 foot raised beds over three formerly abandoned city lots. The guys at the neighboring house put a fence in around the garden, the owner of the bar across the street lets us use his spigot for water when we don’t get enough rain, our friends and neighbors use the place as a community meeting space (attracting everyone from families, to the local universities urban planning meetings) and we divide the produce among whoever chips in. It truly is a community effort.

    But even after dividing up our harvests, we still have TONS of produce to enjoy, so home canning and preserving has become a new passion of ours.

    Another perk of rural urbanity is, of course, chickens. Though we don’t have any of our own, we’ve been talking about getting some chickens for a while now. And since 12 chickens were stolen – that’s right, stolen – out of the coop at the housing cooperative directly behind our house last month, we have even more incentive to get some of those lovely birds back into the neighborhood. I miss their rooster crowing in the spring morning!

    This link shows a local bike tour of some of the many beautiful gardens in the city of Detroit. The city is a true haven for urban gardeners. Our garden, the Woodbridge Community Garden, is shown in the last three photos.


    And of course, the goods: http://twitpic.com/daslx

  • My husband and I grow an organic vegetable, herb and flower garden in our back yard but I’d also love to learn how to make some pickles!

  • awesome! i’m excited to move out of our apartment in the next couple of years to a house with at least a little space to garden. then i can grow my own onions, carrots and tomatoes (at least). in the meantime, i’ll just wait for summer and the local gardener’s market.

  • Oh, these books look wonderful. My sister and I both really want to get chickens, but for me it will have to wait for a larger yard. My aunt has a large flock and the eggs I get from her are amazing. I always look forward t going home for them.
    I live in TX, so most of my garden is already up. I have 6 varieties of heirloom tomato, tomatillos, onions, 4 types of pepper, sweet corn and red popcorn, jarradale pumpkins, acorn squash, zucchini, cukes, white eggplant, radishes, peas, potatoes and plenty of herbs. I also have a pear, a fig, a pomagranate, three blueberries and two raspberries. Next I’d like to put in some grapes!

  • I tend to grow flowers mostly, but this year I have two, currently small, cucumber plants that I have planted specifically for pickling purposes! I was planning on researching the process online, but a beautiful book would be so much nicer to refer to.

    also, owning chickens would be a dream, but one that wont become a reality anytime in the near future. it would be great to have a resource to browse through for the time being.

    g’luck to everyone and congratulations to your friend on her publication!

  • I have canned applesauce and jam in the past, but haven’t for a few years. I am looking forward to starting this back up again. And then, I’m looking forward to eating it all up!

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

  • Ooh, I’d LOVE to win these because I’ve become every bit the renaissance woman as of late and they’d definitely help my cause. I dug out a 20 x 16 garden in my yard last year and planted away. This year I’m moving past tomatoes and zucchini and a few herbs and want to try kale, early tomatoes with the help of those water tepee things, and enough basil to choke an Italian.
    The best thing I’ve done? We got nine egg laying hens 9 weeks ago and have been building them a coop in the backyard. They are the most dear, hilarious, fascinating things on the planet and my whole family (4 kids included and a dog) couldn’t love them more. I could definitely use the book!

  • We’ve been keeping chickens off and on for ten years, but this is the first time we’ve had roosters in with the mix. We had a problem with a very amorous rooster wearing the feathers off the girls’ backs. The problem was solved by sewing them some saddles. The girls are so cute running around the yard all dressed up. http://tinyurl.com/yzjg6gb

  • Well, right now we have a large vegetable garden. But we are currently in the process of buying a house (closing in about 2 weeks!) and we are going to start our own urban farm! We plan on raising chickens, expanding our vegetable gardens about 10 fold and start selling produce at the farmers market. We are just starting to research raising chickens and this would be an invaluable resource to start our farm off with!

  • This is our first summer in our new house! We’re making beds for growing all kinds of veggies and I’m starting seeding this weekend. My sincerest hope is that I can get enough goods for canning at the end of the season. The liklihood is that I won’t but I still intend to pickle and jam up some things.
    Yay domestitude :)

  • My boyfriend and I just bought a house and this is our first spring in our new home. We really wanted to adopt chickens this summer, but we decided to wait until next summer when we can afford a fence and have more time and attention to devote to them. We plan on building a coop this summer and finding a nearby farm sanctuary to adopt from. Mobile chicken housing sounds very intriguing!

    I have always had a black thumb, but it’s never stopped me from trying to grow things! So while my boyfriend works on the vegetable garden, I am starting out small and building an herb box on wheels. My goal is to only use herbs from my csa and herb box this summer!

    I have been dying to start canning! Especially because I miss my dad’s pickled turnips! But I would love to make some creative recipes for all the extra squash and eggplant we get from our csa!

    Thanks for the giveaway! The books look great!

  • I have been wanting to learn how to can for years! Growing our own garden is finally in our sights! We cleared out 8 trees from our property to let the sun in and have been starting seeds indoors. We are so excited to get this going! It would be great to can our harvest!

  • So when I saw that you would be giving away these two books I thought I have got to have a picture of some of our canned products from last year. Alas I cant find any on my picasa account.

    So here is a photo of where some of our first attempts at homesteading took place.


    In the picture you will see a container garden on wheels. The back yard of our home had been paved over by the previous residents. So last spring I bought 5 very large wooden equipment boxes from Boeing Surplus (yes the airplane company) We repainted the boxes and put them up on wheels. We lined them filled them with soil and started planting.

    The resulting crop from our container garden, local picking and the fruit trees on our property were great. We canned pickles, (dill, Bread and Butter) pickled beets, spicy pickled greenbeans, a onion jam, blueberry jam, apricot jam, asian pears in thyme sauce, canned tomatoes.

    The last few days we have been building raised planter boxes – ten of them at 4feet by 8feet we figure we can really put some food up this summer.

    Thanks for the great site and all the inspiration that it provides.

    -Matt in Seattle.

  • It’s hard for me to know where to start since everything about keeping and tending to an urban homestead appeals to me. Currently my husband and I live in Latin America, but we will be returning stateside this summer and have dreams of a sustainable, urban lifestyle. He’s been discussing ideas for reusing rainwater & raising our own chickens while I’m focused on the inside of the home with canning on the top of my list. These books would be super helpful!

  • I don’t have any pictures to link to, but I’ve been canning and gardening for years and years. In fact, I made over 200 4 oz jars of jam as favors for my wedding last October. Everyone thought I was nuts for doing it, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received compliments after the wedding. It’s what people remembered!

    I grew up surrounded by grandmothers who immigrated and/or survived the great depression/ WWII, so being able to preserve food was just a part of life. Not to mention that half of my family has links to Mormon Pioneer/ homesteading ancestry. I grew up knowing how to sew and grow and can, and while a lot of the women in my family turned away from these traditions (“it’s easier and cheaper to just buy it!”), something about it just clicked with me. I love knowing that I can be self-sufficient, even if I never need to be. A lot of people tell me that they don’t understand how I can be a strong, independent, “modern” woman and my hobbies include canning, gardening, baking and knitting. But to me, they’re one and the same. I’m stong and independent because I know these things. I also feel good knowing that I can control what’s in the food I eat from every stage of it’s development, and with the state of our health in this country, that’s really important to me. What’s more, I’m doing my part to keep an art form alive that would otherwise fade away from the influence of modern conveniences.

    I usually only preserve produce that I can either get for free, dirt cheap, or grow myself. And since I’ve been living in a rental for the past few years, I haven’t been able to do too much growing, though I still manage to obtain enough produce to fill our pantry and freezer with produce. My parents both have fruit trees, though they never use the fruit, and our neighbors are charitable enough to let me access their fruit trees as well. I’ve also had a few family members contribute to the cause (in their own self-serving interests, of course) by giving me books and even equipment. My grandpa bought me a $100 steam-juicer last year, for no special occasion, just because he likes my jams and jellies far more than the grocery store varieties! Up to this point, I’ve only used a water-bath canner for jams, jellies, juices and fruits , but I just got a pressure canner (yay wedding present!) and I’m hoping to put that to good use this summer. I’ve been freezing all of my low-acid produce up until now, but that takes up an awful lot of freezer space.

    My husband and I just bought a house, so I’ll finally be able to have the garden of my dreams and maybe a few fruit trees, grape vines and berry bushes. I would love, love, love to own chickens – always have – but that’s where my husband (and our municipality) draws the line. My goal is to be able to produce enough produce to significantly reduce our annual grocery costs, if not enable us to take our self-sufficiency to the next level.

    Thanks for letting me know about this new book to add to my collection, and thanks a bunch for giving away a copy!

  • My husband and I have recently bought our first home and I cannot wait to start my own garden! This summer I also plan to get a group of friends together and make preserves for the first time.

  • I always buy apples and oranges in bulk because they’re cheaper at the store, however, I’m always in a rush to try to finish them or give them away. I’ve always wanted to try canning my own preserves since I knew someone who would do that and give them away as gifts. I have several of the canning jars at home and think it would also be a great way to get fruits in season and have them stored.

  • I’m an avid home cook, trying–like so many others–to get closer to my food by eating more wholesome meals, eating seasonally, shopping at farmer’s markets and local butchers, and most recently, attempting to grow my own food. My husband and I were fortunate to be able to purchase a house with a small, south facing backyard, and we excitedly built a single raised bed with hopes of planting yummy edibles like bush beans, tomatoes, and lots of herbs. However, a severe knee injury last summer left me unable to attend to my plot, and my poor veggies withered and died without any care, before they really had a chance!

    This year, we will resurrect the plot and try again, with a better plan, too! I’m really hoping I can grow some good veggies – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for so long, but haven’t had the opportunity. I’m also dying to learn how to can and preserve – I have dreams of exotic chutneys and spicy pickles, but my husband is hoping for some raspberry jam as good as his mom’s, which is the best I’ve ever had. There’s a U-Pick farm just a few miles away that grows the most amazing raspberries – I hope I can do my husband (and my awesome mother-in-law) proud!

  • OH!
    We’re in the process of moving and this will be my first garden in ages this year. AND I think I almost have my husband talked into building me a coop. I think I need BOTH of these book. (Wistful sigh, as it’s still snowing today…)

  • I’ve always wanted to make my own jams, I used to help my grandmother make hers and they were always better than anything you could buy!

  • My mother and grandmother have been canning for years, so my goal this summer and fall is to have my mother teach me finally!

    Also, last year our garden was in pots…not so successful. This spring we are finishing our backyard and including two huge planter beds for our garden. Can’t wait!

  • I tried soo hard to grow a balcony garden in pots on my urban deck last summer to no avail. This year I am reading and researching and trying my darndest to grow my own vegetables. Self sufficiency in any form is my ultimate goal. Then I will work on refinishing that dresser stashed in my garage and cooking more organically. Sigh… so much to do so little time.

  • Perhaps it’s a byproduct of growing up and living in New England, but as soon as I can (ie. post graduation) I am planning on getting a home with a nice, big barn, and filling said barn with Icelandic sheep and a few chickens. I’ve had a vegetable garden since I was teensy tiny – this year I’m growing heirloom tomatoes and zucchini, to name a few. My mother keeps attempting to pull up my strawberry plants, but they’re pretty resilient and came back this year (little does she know that they’re are eventually going to take over the flower bed, whether she wants it or not…). Aside from the barn, sheep, and chickens, my newest infatuation is with quince. My grandmother’s neighbor has successfully been growing a tree for the last 15 years, so I’m going to go ask her for some pointers as soon as I have a place to plant one of my own!
    My lover has a real soft spot for jam – I want to learn how to make simple fruit preserves for him (and myself, too) because I think that nothing says “I love you” like a jar of brightly colored, home made fruit goop!

  • both my grandmothers had great gardens and canned all late summer, and it’s always a fantasy of mine to have a huge vegetable garden that produces enough for me to put up. Instead the birds eat my tomatoes and the squash bores kill my vines and nothing else seems to grow at all). But each spring I plant again, in hopes of producing something worthy.

    My grandparents also owned a peach orchard, so I have loads of childhood memories of doing just about everything to preserve peaches, from drying slices to making jam (and short-term recipes, too, like ice cream and cobblers). I’ve blogged some here:

    The preserving book is definitely something I’ll have to check out, whether or not I win a copy!

  • firstly, congrats to ashley. i’m excited for both these books. canning is on my to-learn list. and my days are filled with daydreams of a garden larger than a pot, kept company by a squad of cheerful, clucking (feathered) cheerleaders! for now, i am simply attempting to grow veggies in my small cement patch behind my irish city house. and as you can tell from this photo (my very first carrot) i’m still learning :) http://www.flickr.com/photos/daisydoodles/4381054503/in/photostream/

  • HELP! My husband has these grand schemes… he’s going nuts getting the garden ready, buying this seed and that seed and wanting to try the other seed! You would think we’re growing a garden to feed a whole town! Now he talked me into chickens!! It was all fine and dandy… BUT now they’re laying eggs! What am I suppose to do with all of these eggs?! We’ve got eggs coming out of our ears! I could really use your help!


  • These books make me so happy! I have recently begun taking a more active role in creating a healthy home and environment. This summer I will be growing plenty of vegetables in my brand-new community garden plot. My sister-in-law gifted me a canning kit for the holidays and I’ve been itching to head out to our local pick-your-own farm and load up on fresh fruit to turn into jams and preserves!

    I don’t have the room for it yet, but I’ve been inspired by legions of chicken-keepers who keep popping up in my google reader. Someday when a backyard is less of a dream and more of a reality I will have chickens. I can’t wait for all the pretty, fresh eggs!

  • Earlier last year my husband and I were discussing ways we could make more of an effort to “eat locally” when we discovered a stray chicken had made a nest and laid 11 eggs behind our trash can! Considering it a “sign” after 2 eggs hatched, we did some resesarch (Even though we now live on an acre outside of town, I ‘m a city girl and have a lot to learn!!!!) then got to work on building a coop. The process took a bit longer than expected, so “bubba the stray” (as my son named her) moved to my neighbors yard before the coop was done. We found ourselves with a $400 home-made coop and no chickens, so we decided to order day old baby chicks from the internet. My 7 girls arrived in August and I’ve been in love ever since.
    Here’s a photo of me and 2 of our Easter Eggers, Edwina and Waffles . You can see the coop in the back:
    Hanging in the back yard and just watching the chickens is now my favorite thing to do.

    Here is a photo of a couple of our first eggs:

    The quality of the eggs had us hooked. We quickyly realized how much better fresh food tastes and are making an effort to drastically reduce the amount of processed foods we eat.
    We’ve signed up for a local CSA and I’m excited to take a canning / freezing class at that farm this summer.
    I am using the “deep litter method” in our coop and plan to use the old shavings as fertilizer in a new raised bed garden we have started.
    I’ve not had much of a green thumb in the past, but the chickens have inspired me to give it another try!
    I feel grateful that the chickens have really been a wonderful teaching opportunity for our 6 year old son. He will now voluntarily tell his friends why “flourescent blue food doesn’t occur in nature and is not good for you”!
    Here is a picutre of my son “snuggling” Edwina. They are so relaxed around each other Ed will knock on the door with her beak so she can come hang out on Elliott’s lap. :-)

  • This contest could not have come at a better time! My husband and I have been researching different backyard chicken coops to build so that we can start our own flock soon. Some of our favs so far: http://www.thegardencoop.com/images/garden-ark-plans-000a.jpg (the movable Garden Ark) and for the architect in me, a more modern approach: http://www.roije.com/media/prod/FR-BREEDRETREAT-01XL.jpg A simpler model (like Ashley’s movable idea) might be a little easier on our building skills though. Any coop we build will have to protect the flock from being herded by our Corgi puppy, Noah http://s3.amazonaws.com/twitpic/photos/large/63019883.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=0ZRYP5X5F6FSMBCCSE82&Expires=1270670781&Signature=HPUAjOnWyrFllryCRfcvu3bAeG0%3D , who chases anything that moves. I would love to win a copy of Ashley’s chicken book, and the canning book would be an extra bonus! I would love to learn how to can and make jams with the fruit that we’ll be growing in our new garden (we just bought our first house and I’m anxious to get a garden going!). Thank you for this contest, and I hope you consider saving our chickens from Noah when you make your decision!

  • This post must have been inspired just for me, because homesteading efforts are all I have been thinking about for the last few weeks. My husband and I recently moved to GORGEOUS south-central Utah, and we have been mulling over ways to really start a self-sufficient lifestyle, and how to start a small business. A little while ago we had the epiphany that we could combine the two loves and start an organic farm/ bed and breakfast. The idea is to create a sustainable environment, grow our own vegetables, fruit trees, tea and herb gardens, and fresh flowers; while raising happy healthy milk goats, miniature cows, and chickens. All of the organic produce, free range eggs, grass-fed milk and homemade yogurts and cheeses would combined into delicious breakfasts, and used to create natural amenities for the rooms (homemade lemongrass soap, pumpkin face scrub, etc.) The guests could help take part in the farm duties during their stay as little or as much as they choose. Anyway, regardless of whether I win anything, I see these books residing on my bedside table shortly! Thanks for the reference!

  • http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=99572&id=624471301#!/album.php?aid=99572&id=624471301

    I had an urban garden and chicken coop in the middle of the city! Your ideas are certainly an inspiration. I lived on a sustainable farm in Australia for a summer and came back to the states and decided to bring those ideas with me. Here is an album of what I created! Chicken coup, garden, and just a glimpse of a house. I’ve got my sprouts up this year and can’t wait til things start popping up. Best Wishes!!

  • Every year since I was tall enough to reach a countertop, my sisters and mom and I would can tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and jams with my Granny. When she died, my mom inherited her canning supplies (old-fashioned canners and all) and still uses them every year. Now that I am moved out I have started a small garden and can’t wait to get into canning on my own soon! This book looks terrific :)

  • I have just begun my urban homesteading efforts in my front yard. A small town girl, I didn’t realize the potential of the grass we own in Chicago. Our first step has been to construct a raised bed garden and install our composter (we had actually been using rubbermaid containers for the last two years). Our next step is chickens (and bribing our neighbors with eggs). We need to some work to our deck to free up more space for a coop first!

    As I’m just getting started, I have been devouring homesteading books like crazy. Thank you for letting us know about these!

  • In a month’s time dear husband and I hope to finally be living in a home that will allow us space for a garden and some city chickens (both of which I had growing up and only hope to recreate for our future rugrats).

    The property already has avocados, oranges, and persimmons (got any good ideas for a guacamole-jam preserve 0_o). The garden/roses need some serious TLC (you can see from the picture), but rhubarb, sugar snaps, and bok choy are on my wish list. . .dreams of strawberry-rhubarb jam dance in my head.

    Although my desire is strong, my personal experience is limited (I had many hours spent as a child helping my parents canning and caring for the chickens, but I know it’s a whole other ball of wax when trying to do it on your own). That’s why these books are so perfect and honestly (for me) couldn’t have released at a better time.

    Thank you Ms.English for putting this information out there for the neo-homesteaders who need a little help livin’ the dream.


  • My 5 year old is leading our gardening efforts! I have had a vegetable garden in our backyard for 6 years now, but it was only when my 5 year old begged me to build him a garden last year that our efforts have paid off. We used soil from our compost, and his garden produces lovely vegetables year round! This winter he planted a fig tree and a peach tree around his garden too! There are some pictures of his garden on my blog http://www.kathyrabago.com/?page_id=17

  • wow!! this is amazing! i’ve been here 2 hours ago when there was not even one comment writen, and now… omg!
    this post is highly exciting me for 2 reasons: first, i’m so happy for you Ashley. congratulations on the books comming out!! they are so pretty. every time i see a book published that helps us becoming more self-suficient i want to hug the author- so a big hug to you! and second, it’s so nice to see so many people thrilled about these subjects as i am! it gives real hope, we’re together! (even though i’m writing this from Tel-Aviv, Israel).
    last, although i hardly believe you meant this compatition to be international… i’ll share with you that i’m writing this just after having for supper a delicious salad with lettuce and radish from our garden, next to the sourcrout (canned cabbage) i made a few weeks ago. i don’t have pictures, but we’re really proud of our urban herbs garden (oregano, lemongrass, mint, tyme, geranium and more that i don’t know their names in english..). so thank you all for writing this great blog, that combines beauty and sustainability in such a fun way!

  • Would love these books – would totally help us out on our homesteading adventures! We’re raising four chicks, about a month old now:

    And we are planning a large garden – to grow food for our kitchen table, as well as the chickens! However, the previous owner of our Chicago home loved concrete. So, here is us removing some of it with a rented jackhammer in an attempt to get more garden space:

    So glad it is spring! Can’t wait to get into it all full-force and would love these books to help us out. Thanks for the opportunity!

  • I have been looking after my friends chickens for the last week while they’re away and it has been so lovely! You give them food, water and a place to sleep and they give you eggs, everyday! I love the noises the chickens make, the smell of the hay. It is also rewarding to promote a non cage-egg world.

  • I am going to be learning how too…and living off the grid this summer in Alaska. This is my goal in life, what I plan to do..to live off the land and for that winter…my family will need perserves…and in the summer…chickens!! And…bonus points…it’s my birthday!

  • I was so excited to see this contest! My mother group up in West Virginia on a giant farm and since she was 18 has been living in the suburbs in Massachusetts. Very different world. Recently, she has been recconnecting to her childhood and has been canning EVERYTHING in sight. She cans peaches, jellies, mustards and this spring even canned maple syrup. Last mother’s day my dad gave her some new babies – 6 chicks. Since it’s just the two of them, my husband and I benefit from their extra eggs and canning. Yum! Yum!

  • In my yard there are many trees, and bushes, and bushes and more bushes. An elderly couple owned the home before me and as a landscaper (the only one I could get to stop at the house when I first moved in) said “they really always wanted it green. I’ve been slowing pulling out bushes in the sunniest part of the yard – to make a garden. I’d love a nice 8×4 plot – laid out in sq feet (as they had in eating well magazine last month) – with about 12 veggies. last year I got some heirloom tomatoes…I’d love more. and to make my own pickles from my own homegrowm cucumbers.

  • I volunteer with a community garden that is connected to an elementary school. While we have fruit tress, a huge vegetable and herb garden, a lovely storage shed, flower beds, and multiple compost piles, we don’t have bees yet. I would love to start working with bees.

  • I have been a busy bee of late, reading and researching info to start growing my own edible garden this spring. The last two summers I have a had a couple plants on the go, mostly lettuce and tomatoes, but this year I want to take it up a notch. This means taking my current garden and switching it over to an edible one. The task seems overwhelming at times, but I am determined to grow my own veggies and herbs. I find to really rewarding to know I had a part in growing my food. From knowing what goes into it and also where it came. Jamie Oliver’s at Home cookbook and TV series was a big source of inspiration for me too!
    Wish me luck!

  • I just planted my first garden last year and couldn’t believe how easy it was, not to mention how handy it was to pop into the backyard and grab some lettuce etc. to make a salad anytime! I’ll definately be expanding my plot this year.

  • We just bought a new house with a 1/2 acre of land. We have been living in a tiny little house with not much to speak of a yard of our own. Ive been dying to start my own garden so that I can feed my family more on the cheap and much better foods!! Ive even tried convincing my hubby into having a couple chickens…no such luck.

  • This huge list of entries really, really makes me feel happy about the state of the world!
    Thought I’d join in the fun.
    We live in Eumundi Australia, and have been messing about with chickens, veggies, sustainable house building and a badly-behaved pig for seven years now.

    Naturally, it’s all being blogged about… I wrote this on growing and making Rosella jam, and it seems to be pretty popular: http://www.eumundipapers.com/2009/04/rosellas.html

    And too all of you with a dream of growing your own food and hanging out with farm animals – just do it! It’s the road to happiness.

  • I met a wonderful man recently and we sparked our romance over a discussion on our mutual dreams of being back to the landers. I am a bread baker (by lifestyle, not occupation) and he a gardner. We hope to (by the time we both are 32) live off the grid and the earth. Something really sealed the deal when I described a recent visit to a haybale home community as the aha moment that helped me realize what an obvious, beautiful choice this life is.

  • The books look awesome! I have never canned before but am looking forward to it this summer. Our family celebrates each Friday with homemade pizza. Lately we’ve been making our own pizza dough, which my husband has almost perfected. We are excited for our garden this summer . . . this photo is a digi scrapbook page of our daughter helping plan our garden http://www.flickr.com/photos/deacons96/4500388179/ I want to harvest the tomatoes and make my own pizza sauce. Then, I hope to can the sauce to use it this fall for our Pizza Night! I’d love to have Ashley’s book to help me along the way.

  • While I don’t yet have a vegetable garden or chickens, I do have 30 acres, a nearly finished chicken coop, and a huge desire to make something beautiful and useful from my property. Ashely’s posts are some of my d*s favorites, and I’m thrilled that she’s produced two books about subjects that I’m so interested in. We have currently have 25 black australorp and buff orpington chicks on order and a beautiful & informative book about chickens would be an incredible gift!

    I usually spent several weeks every summer with my great-grandma pickling okra, canning tomatoes, and baking cherry pie, and I so look forward to being able to create memories like that with my own daughters (one is 3 years old, the other 3 months).

    I recently started a blog (http://babiesandbrusselssprouts.blogspot.com/) to help inspire me to keep up with these aspirations I have, and these books fit perfectly with that goal.

  • My son (14 months old) was just diagnosed with food allergies. I would love to can “safe” food for him and have peace of mind knowing there was no cross-contamination in any of our jellies, and other canned foods.

  • This is awesome! We’re huge fans of Ashley, the books look AWESOME (beautiful design!). We’re planning some fire escape herbs, a backyard container vegetable garden, garbage can planters of potatoes in our parking space…and some guerilla gardening: hainlink fence back alley runner beans, we’re planning on planting some garlic in the fall off the hiking trail near our place.

    we’ve been canning and preserving and dehydrating like mad over at http://www.wellpreserved.ca

  • I canned last year for the first time. i had a large garden last year for the first time. so i used my own cucumbers for pickles, but got okra and green beans from the farmers market to pickle as well. i cant wait to do it again this year, i want to do some tomatoes and salsas and since i live in CO, use some of those awesome peaches. http://lizcannon.blogspot.com/2009/08/canning-with-momma.html. i also compost and use that in my garden. i also love to cook from scratch. if i could have chickens i would, but we can’t in denver county :(. i would love to read the book though!!!

  • My family just moved to the suburbs, ultimately it ruled out over moving into another loft in the city because of our area’s city schools. One of the main reasons we were ok with this transition is because we’d finally get the opportunity to plant a garden – instead of potted apartment plants. So here we are… the first summer in our new home and have no idea what to do!

    We have planted some small plants only for them to be flooded from our gutter overflow. So this Thursday we are going to a rain barrel class… I figure this will even things out… somehow…

    Another thing we’ve been wanting to try is Chickens!!!! Our city accepts 2-5 chickens as long as we have a fence and a cement flooring for our hens.
    We have been waiting for our first time homebuyers credit to come back so that we can build our fence. The links we’ve been looking at to build our fence is:


    We would greatly benefit from copies of Ashley English’s new books. We desperately need guidance and wisdom as we set out to utilize our new space!

  • ooh, i would love the book on keeping chickens!! we’ve been wanting chickens for several years now. we just bought a house a couple of weeks ago, and 2 days ago we started the transformation of the previous owners dog pen into our chicken coup. we go through 3 dozen eggs a week, so we can’t wait to have our very own egg making machines!! we also started the process of putting in 6 beds, and will soon begin constructing the compost area!!!! we’re so excited! and we live in town (austin, tx) not in the country.
    …crossing my fingers!!

  • My grandma is famous for her homemade and home-canned hot sauce. She used to make huge batches of it to give away to EVERYONE she encountered, and of course every single person loved it. She taught me to make it about a year ago, and I just made my first batch all on my own!!! You can see one of the jars here:
    It’s not as good as Grandma’s yet, but I’m so glad I took the plunge and successfully completed my first canning experience!

    I have a deep commitment to eating locally and seasonally, and I know that canning and preserving can help me take that commitment to the next level (AND give me tomatoes and other veggies year-round!). I really want to get into canning and preserving after conquering grandma’s hot sauce!

    PERFECT that there’s a chicken book too so I can share it with a friend of ours who we’re investing in chickens with!!!

    I’m so excited about these books! Thanks for taking the time and making the commitment to write ’em!

  • YES!!!! I am so excited!

    I started a tiny garden last year. This year I am greatly expanding it – and am planning on canning and preserving my fruits and vegetables. I also even have plans to eventually get chicken as well, so these books are PERFECT for me!!!!

    I am also a graphic designer, so it is like they are made for me – I love the cover design immensely! Pick me! Pick! ;)

  • This year I made a resolution to make something that I would typically buy at the grocery store each month; 12 things by the end of December. On the list are mayonnaise, pickles, jam, sauerkraut, and more. January’s project was bread. I documented the process here: http://lilyjanestationery.typepad.com/justlovely/2010/02/resolution-no-6-homemade-sandwich-bread.html

    I’ve been making it instead of buying it ever since and I’m happy to say that it looks much better now, after some practice! And it TASTES a world different from the store-bought version. I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

    Thanks for the giveaway! These books look amazing. Great work and congratulations, Ashley!

  • I am sure that you wont be able to see this picture of my dear friends Chicken coop, but it’s worth a shot. She is 26 and lives in a tiny town outside of sacramento. She decided when she bought her house this year, that she would love to have fresh eggs every day. She bought 12 chicks and her stories of these chicks over the last few months have been HILARIOUS. I keep up with them on Facebook. I think it’s so awesome that she is able to do this, I just wish that I had enough room to do the same. So I guess I am actually nominating my friend Meika, because I’m so envious of what she’s doing, but also because she’s one of my best friends :)

  • Um, Chicken Saddles? It sounds like reader Sheila has some serious chicken experience and probably doesn’t need the book, but deserves some kind of prize for making her chickens “saddles”. . .and in such colorful & adorable patterns. What a loving Mother Hen Sheila is! Well done!

  • my husband and i own a veggie and flower farm in rural vermont. i am a graphic designer by trade and “married into” farming a few years ago. he had quite the head start on me! i have tried really hard to make my place on the farm and have learned a ton. but, alas, i admit i am not always the best “farmer’s wife”….i don’t know how to can or preserve. (gasp!) we sell tons of great pickles and jams at our market, but my aunt makes them all for us! how great if i actually could do it myself and put my name on something at the farm. think of the great labels i could design!

    we’ve also committed to raising chickens this year for eggs to sell at our farmstand. another thing i know nothing about! i am excited by the idea of selling our own eggs but admit, i am overwhelmed by the thought of raising animals (so far our farm has been just “live” veggies and plants!)…this is a huge jump for us.

    please help me become a better farmer’s wife! i’ll be very grateful.

  • Eeks, my old man was right: one day I’d be sorry that I don’t know how to post a link to the cyberworld. We’ve just bought a house with a great big blank slate of a yard (the main appeal of the house) and live in chicken-friendly territory. Sorry I can’t post a picture of this, because if I could, you’d envision chickens frolicking and berry and fruit trees abundant with summer fruit ripe for preserving (we also happen to live near some of the best peach and berry picking farms in the state). That’s our plan, I just really need some hand-holding to get us there, and these books sound like they are just the ticket! So I would greatly appreciate it if you please make my country granny proud of me by setting me up with these great books to lead the way! Thanks for your consideration and congratulations to Ashley!

  • In a couple weeks I will be visiting my future home on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I am moving permanently in October. I won’t be able to plant anything of note due to the landscape, but I certainly plan to keep chickens, along with goats and maybe even rabbits. Wish me luck!

  • My husband and daughter (Emmy 8 months old) and I will soon be moving to Austin. We plan to plant an organic garden, keep some chickens for eggs and maybe eventually get some pymgy goats for milk and cheese. We plan to long term plant some fruit and nut trees, maybe even banana plants since those actually can grow in central Texas! I would love to win these books. We joke that my husband (who stays home with my daughter while I work) will spend the day getting Emmy to chase the chickens for him! :)

  • we just signed up for our first CSA this year and i’m so excited for all the goods! I can’t wait to be domestic and learn to can and enjoy it all throughout the coming year.

  • these books sound great. we actually did have chickens (and successfully kept some of them from predators)! Actually, I always wanted to try canning — starting with having a successful crop of fruit or vegtables, and learning how to can them properly and make jelly. A friend gave me the best blackberry/lemon verbena jam I have ever had in my entire life, which she made herself.

  • I don’t have a garden YET as I’m still living the student lifestyle. But what I really want to do is make loads and loads of delicious rhubarb jam, just like granny makes, and then eat it with waffles and lots of whipped cream. Where I’m from rhubarb jam is THE jam everyone makes, and I can’t even buy it where I’m currently living so I’ve been saving up jars all winter and can’t wait to get some rhubarb at my local market this summer. I would love to win the book to get ideas for more jams and preserves as my jar collection has grown big enough to accommodate a lot more than a year’s supply of rhubarb goodness.

  • Oh, how I want these books. I just started teaching cooking workshops (specifically for the little foodies in our lives) out of my home. I feel like I’ve just begun to conquer the world of cooking. Next on the list is gardening/composting, then chickens, then bees. I would like to find a way to incorporate these into my workshops as well!

  • In the past I have had rooftop gardens filled with various kinds of flowers that I use for dying fabric.

    This summer, I am in a new city without any space for a garden. To solve this problem, a friend and I have plans to turn the strip of land next to a fence in a local graveyard into a happy and healthy garden. Strange location, I suppose, but it receives full south-facing sun, and the beans will have a tall fence to climb! The graveyard has not been actively used as a burial ground for over 150 years.

    We spent the first warm day of the season cleaning up the garbage that accumulated over the winter (including an armchair, an old carpet, broken bottles, and diapers!).

    Next step: turning the soil!

  • My boyfriend and I just started a locavore challenge to eat fresh foods produced within a 100 mile radius of where we live. We are planning on going through November (hopefully keeping the habit through the winter too!) mostly because I have no idea how to really preserve foods for the winter months. We have also started our own windowsill garden with sprouts and herbs. You can see everything here: http://dancingwithfood.blogspot.com/2010/04/locavores.html and here: http://dancingwithfood.blogspot.com/2010/04/windowsill-gardening.html
    The canning book would be a great help and I love the cover design!

  • i would LOVE these books and here is why,
    since we moved into our new home in Aug 2008 – and thus had the yard to grow veggies etc. – i have made a conserted effort to not buy canned or jarred foods from the store.
    i have learned to pickle if i need to preserve things and instead of eating veggies from a can i make things (like tomato sauce) from scratch or we don’t eat it. if its something we want to eat then i should be able to make it from scratch.
    its that whole idea of what did we do 150 years ago? attitude in an attempt to keep us from eating chemicals and perservatives dyes and added corn syrup.
    i also do it to cut down on our carbon foot print.
    there are still some things like Milk and Meat that we wouldn’t be able to DIY but i walk out of the store every week with no jars and no cans in my basket at all (but a lot of veggies) and that makes me feel good.
    we don’t have pictures of the veggies yet as they are still fairly young but this year we are growing peppers, tomatos, onions, garlic, potatos, carrots, strawberries and beans along with mint, rosemary, basil and oregano.

  • A year ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to purchase a little house with a lovely big yard. The yard needs lots of work, but we’re getting there! We’re expecting our first child in October, so now seemed like a good time to finally get that vegetable garden started. We’ve built a couple of raised beds and we’ve got some books on composting, so we’re on the right track! That’s the first step… I’d love to move on to home canning some of those great vegetables! I’m also hoping to try out beekeeping! I would LOVE to keep chickens, but we’ve got neighborhood foxes wandering around, so I’m not sure how well they’d co-exist. Ashley’s book would certainly help answer the question of keeping chickens is even possible for someone in my situation, so I’ll definitely have to check it out!

  • i love anything natural, handmade, homegrown! i’m up to my elbows in homemade artisan breads right now, and have hopes to plant a vegetable garden soon. i’d love to know how to can and preserve things to enjoy all year round.

  • My husband recently gave me a home canning set for our anniversary. Jewelry and traditional gifts aren’t really my thing, but I’m stoked to learn about making my own jams and preserves!

  • I would love to try some chutneys and jams. This is a new desire, but I have slowly realized it is necessary to make it through the sparse months (especially with low freezer space).

  • Every weekend I go to the Dane County Farmers Market (DCFM) here in Madison. I usually pick up some locally grown produce, flowers, and some fresh cheese curds. Last summer I purchased approximately 30 lbs of tomatoes to can. (This is about one of those large cardboard produce boxes full.) This was time consuming, but actually pretty easy to do. I have done it in the past in with my own tomatoes. (We just moved so I didn’t have a garden.) Plus, I have fond memories of my mom and our neighbor basically opening a canning factory in the kitchen each summer. I was able to put up ten quart jars full of yummy tomatoes in the pantry.

    I know that some people are thinking, “ Is she nuts? Why not just buy some canned tomatoes from the store?” Well, with those canned tomatoes, you do not really know where they are coming from, how they were grown, or when they were canned. I feel that these are healthier and better tasting. Plus, it is also way more inexpensive to “put up” some tomatoes on my own that buying them all at the store.

    I would love to be able to learn more about canning so I can take advantage of the fruit and vegetable extravaganza that is the DCFM. Not only could I stuff my pantry full of delicious pickles, chutneys, jams and jellies to enjoy through our cold Wisconsin winters, I’d be able to further support our local farmers. Not to mention open a little canning factory with my neighbors!

  • Wow! This could not be better timed. I have been desperately wanting to start canning but haven’t the foggiest idea how to begin. I’ve even found some of my late grandmother’s old canning supplies.

    And one day (one day!) I’d looove to have my own chickens. I was even just telling someone about this the other day. Your own personal egg supply! But alas, I live in Chicago and don’t have the space for it. Unleeeesssss….I can get my landlord to let me start a coop on the roof? No, then I wouldn’t know what to do when it gets cold.

    Okay, long story short…I plan on starting canning this summer and if I don’t win the book, I’ll probably buy it! There are many amazing farmers markets and I plan on getting my produce from there to start. I got this idea about two years ago when I read Barbara Kingsolvers “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. Hopefully, with Ashley’s help I can actually get started!!

  • As soon as we moved into our first home, my husband and I built a beautiful raised garden bed from reclaimed cedar – it was October in Portland. I was so excited to finally plant something in the spring, I couldn’t help but photograph each step of the process, especially the end results. I still marvel at the beauty of the bounty! This summer we will have our first batch of compost at the ready for our second planter box. I just hung out our mason bee nesting box, and I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the hummingbirds and sunshine. I created a log of my successes and failures last year from which I learned much, but I’m looking forward to more experimenting both in the garden and the kitchen.


  • After watching Food Inc and reading In Defense of Food we realized it was time to make a change. So here’s our effort in our little corner of the universe…

    My husband and have three 4 week old Gold Wyandotte Chicks that we’re raising for their eggs.

    We also just planted our garden chalk full of vegetables. I would love to know how to can so I can save this home grown produce past the summer.

    I featured our chicks on my blog a couple weeks ago: http://lifeslittleembellishments.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/happy-birthday-dad-and-some-chicks/

    and our garden is posted here: http://lifeslittleembellishments.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/louws-family-garden/


  • Hi There – I recently read the article you guys posted about growing your own herbs – and that day I decided to do it! I’m growing 6 different herbs in “starter pots” made of toilet paper tubes – they’re starting to sprout and it’s so exciting!!!

  • My husband and I started canning last summer- we put up peach jam to give as Christmas presents. It was such a satisfying way to enjoy local produce all year long! This year I am hoping to put up pickles, tomatoes, and a few more jams and jellies. Oh- and our new house is getting a vegetable and herb garden this summer!

  • I live in L.A. To most people that means concrete and smog. In my neighborhood, where I am the only gringa, it means waking up to roosters and my neighbors sharing their fresh oranges with me. It also means that I have a little yard, with the absolute perfect space for a couple of chickens and cedar boxes to grow produce. But where do I start??!!?? I would love these books for inspiration and reference.

  • Just got our first flock of baby ducks for my families farm! They are so tiny and in that “peep-peep-peep” stage. So cute.

  • Well I just recently moved out of my mom’s into a duplex with my husband. My mom had a garden and chickens, so I grew up with that. I really miss it living in town. So hopefully I will be able to talk my landlords into letting me have some chickens. I have been researching urban coops.

    I am putting a little garden in as well! I did some canning with my grandma a couple of summers ago and I am hoping to do some more. I would love to become a canning pro! These books would be great resources for me and my hubby!

  • oh my oh my how I would love, LOVE to win a copy of the Keeping Chickens read! I’m extremely inspired by homesteading and am looking for ways to incorporate good things into my own life. I recently read a book about a gal who raised hens and became completely obsessed with the idea. Two days ago I found the Small Measures blog (*lovely*) and another (Lavender and Limes) where she said, “if you have ever considered raising chickens in your backyard, I would say…”GO for it!” Thus, I am making it happen this summer. period.

    I don’t know the first thing about chickens, hence, I need this book! I’ve got the chicken coop all planned out in my mind, now to do all the good reading I can before starting this adventure. I saw a couple spreads from the book and it looks amazing. I would love to win a copy.
    thanks design*sponge for the blog.
    good stuff!

  • Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have been trabsitioning our day to day habits to more eco friendly ones. We’ve stopped using paper towels and have now switched to fabric, We are changing our diet to a more produce based one which has led us to all kinds of experimentation with cooking.
    We planted a garden over at a friend’s house last year,( We live in an apartment without a yard) and this year we are growing herbs in the window.
    We hope to one day raise a few chickens for eggs.
    What a wonderful contest!

  • We’re on a small lot in the city, but we’re going to buddy with the neighbors and get 3 chicks (the max) and move the coop from yard to yard on a regular basis. We already split the veggie growing (share salads, carrots, rhubarb, herbs, squashes, and tomatoes) and figured it was just as easy to share the chickens/eggs.

    I’ve been canning, freezing, and making jam since I could walk (thanks parents and grandparents), and am glad my kids are old enough that they can help and learn! And someone has to inherit my love of tomato preserves….

  • After polishing off a jar of the most delicious (and pricey!) jam I’ve ever had, I’m inspired to try making my own conserves. All it’s going to take is me getting over my fear of botulism… that canning book sure would help!

    I’m also starting my first garden ever. Graduation from tiny potted cacti to needy plants growing in the ground!

  • oh my! I so hope to have these in my collection. I am currently planning a deck garden and as soon as I can I would like to keep bees. I have been to our Honey Bee Society educational talks and it soooo awesome. Having 30,000 bees living in one place making amazing honey and being able to see how they live and interact so closely. Huge advocate of growing your own veggies and such. Wonderful.

  • my husband and i started our first square-foot garden this year. we’re foregoing the CSA this summer with the hopes that we’ll be self-sustaining (fingers crossed). our other goal for the year is to get to chickens… so both of ashley’s books would be perfect!

  • I can’t compete with my neighbors who have peacocks, but I would love to learn how to keep chickens and put the chicken coop that is on my land to good use!

  • I live in Santa Cruz in a small apartment with my cat. I’m graduating in June in Environmental Studies at UCSC and my senior project was an InDesign guide (my first InDesign project) to Urban Homesteading and Organic Gardening in Santa Cruz. It includes sections on foraging, bee keeping, chickens, preserving, native species, composting, CSAs, seasonality of crops, rainwater catchment and an event calendar as well as SC county regulations on these practices. I don’t have chickens or bees but I keep my organic container garden tidy and productive. I’d like to move into a home and be able to use my guide for all of its amazing worth. CCOF, my employer, has taken it for their archive and I have given it to tons of new and wannabe homesteaders (many college age, the next generation of back-to-the-landers). I attached an image of one of the spreads: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=39699490&l=913618d2f8&id=6714995

  • Canning: A Poem

    I used to turn my nose up to the relish my mom canned.
    But now that snotty attitude has been completely banned.

    The smell of jellies, jams and chutneys, simmer in my dreams.
    I want to be an urban goddess, a fruit preserving queen.

    I have a little garden—herbs, tomatoes, and the like.
    But with a book to help me, I’d be completely psyched.

    Look out friends and family, so improved your meals will be,
    From the fancy canned goodies from apron-wearing me.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/omahagoodlife/4501254992/

    I adore growing things, especially edible things, and decided this winter, after a very fruitful apartment balcony harvest, that I would go to the next step and start growing things from seeds. My first attempt is some mixed greens (pictured in the link above) and they are doing very well. I started them on a wet paper towel with an old salsa jar over them to keep moisture in, and once they got big enough I snipped their square of the paper towel (being careful to keep the root intact) and put them in little cups I made from cutting up a cardboard egg carton. When ready, I can just plant the whole thing rather than try to transplant the delicate little seedling. I also put a sprig of rosemary in water after purchasing it from my local grocery store, and behold, it sprouted roots! It’s now happily spreading rosemary love in some soil in another window of my kitchen. Whether I win or not, I’m definitely going to check out the books so I can figure out what to do with my bounty!


  • These look wonderful! I can’t wait until I have a yard of my own to have a few chickens! Right now I live in a tiny apartment but have amazing sunlight so I have started growing some herbs in the windows and a few other veggies!

  • Lately my mother has been talking incessantly about raising chickens. She has already picked out the coop she wants to have built, complete with cute paint colors for the roof. The problem is chickens stop laying great eggs after a few years, but live for many more. My mom is too kind hearted to ever make any of those chickens dinner, so she hesitates to make the 10-11 year commitment. I’m hoping a book like this encourages her to go ahead with her ideas!

  • Lately I’ve been reading a number of books on self-sufficiency at various levels – keeping livestock, growing & preserving food, making do and making it yourself.
    My dream is to someday live on land that provides for myself and my community – whether that ends up being through a small garden and some chickens, or a family-scale farm with bigger livestock. In either case, I long to learn, and to teach the skills that allow for picking a plot of good earth, and starting again (ish). In the accounts I’ve read, I’m often struck by the sense of community – in order to maintain this lifestyle, neighbours need to help each other out, both around the corner and around the world, by sharing advice, ideas, and seeds and I think, ultimately, helping build a community who shares food, ideas, music and affection is my goal.

    Thanks for the shot!

  • please please please pick me !!!!!
    Here’s a link to a photo of the most awesome end-product from a backyard pet!

    our 3 lovely ladies (henny penny, chicken licken and happy chicken) are such a welcome addition to our family and they really do have the best personalities – and no, i am not some crazy bird woman! we also have a very lovely garden with parsely, mint, rosemary, thyme, rocket, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, basil and lettuce. and i compost like there’s no tomorrow!

  • Oh my, I want these books so badly I can taste it! I am a passionate advocate of food issues, especially matters of food sovereignty. I am also a rehabilitated nutritionist, on my way to owning my own farm. Right now, I fit in farming apprenticeship opportunities whenever I can as we raise our three children and put hubby through school.

    Please o’ please check out my blog as proof of my passion for homesteading and producing, raising, and eating food that is dense with nutrition and passion.

    My Bapka used to can all of our summer produce on the farm. I want to do her proud.


  • My husband and I just bought our first home in the awesome city of San Francisco! We move in this Saturday and I can not wait to start gardening, I am a little worried though because I do not have a green thumb but I still want to grow as much food as I can on our little postage stamp of a lot and then I want to can and pickle! The house is less than 500 sq ft and we are excited to live lightly! Chickens are allowed in SF city limits and I dream of fresh eggs from our own little chicks someday!

  • Well, since we moved into our new home last summer from an apartment I’ve planted a plum tree, cherry tree and blueberry bushes as well as starting a compost.

    I LOVE the idea of having chickens and I know our indoor cats would enjoy watching them in the backyard… My big kitty makes the best awkward meow when she’s watching birds.

  • I live in an apartment, so so far my growing efforts have been small. Just started with herbs this summer, hope to start growing more vegetables next year. I’m a member of a CSA and get a share of produce weekly. I’d like to learn more about canning and preserving the veggies that I can’t finish within the week– and with the hope of having fresh great fruit year round.

  • My husband and I are considering adopting some Guinea fowl, so we’re thinking of how and where to build the coop and how our dog (miniature dachshund) would get along with fowl friends.

  • I am a university student currently. Living in the city has limited my ability to garden and school work has also taken up a lot of my time, but nonetheless I am a country girl at heart.Ever since I was a kid I had my nose buried in garden books dreaming of what I could do once I was older. I still can not wait until I am able to grow my own vegetables and raise my own chickens. Ever since I took a nutrition course in CEGEP I have been nuts for eating organic.

    Hopefully next semester I will be able to get my roommates to go along with my ideas about getting a compost and more effecient recycling system going in our apartment. Until then ill keep dreaming and reading!

  • chickens are quite possibly the easiest animals to raise. If you have a dog or a cat, you can have chickens – in fact, I would claim that they are easier…they don’t even need to be walked!. You wouldn’t think that watching chickens just simply “be chickens” would be so entertaining but my husband and I find ourselves mesmerized by them…so much so we thought about hollowing out an old TV and putting the little chicks inside. We call it Chicken TV. Here’s two photos of our small flock of Plymouth Barred Rock hens. These girls are hardy (we live in New England); one of them has survived two dogs (she now has a slightly misshapen tail) and three nights on her own in the woods. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=58000&id=1389593656&l=c4799d4f64

  • Unfortunately, this summer I will be abroad, so my options will be limited, but I am entering for my mom! At home, we grow our own tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and basil.

  • I’ve spent the last four years wishing I knew how to make jellies. There are spectacular blackberry vines behind my father’s house (which used to be my grandmother’s house) and we can never eat all the berries. I’ve had good blackberry jam, and can’t imagine that the good, but store bought, kinds that I’ve had could possibly compare to truly fresh jam that I made myself.

  • My dear friend just decided to raise chickens and plant an expanded garden in our suburban neighborhood in Orange County. I think she gives new meaning to “real” housewives of Orange County. I admire and am inspired by her choices. I would give the books to her in support of her efforts.
    As for my own garden, I make the most of my small yard and have planted garden vegetables wherever I can squeeze them. I also have a square foot garden which is perfect for small yards.
    These books would be perfect for my friend.

  • Both of these books are perfect for me!

    My husband and I moved into a small craftsman home in the heart of Seattle this year and have visions of adding a chicken coop and chickens to our beautiful backyard urban garden. My creative hubby has already designed the perfect coop (he was an engineer in a previous life!) but we could really use some more instruction on keeping chickens in the city. We’re looking forward to sharing eggs with our new neighbors!

    Our lovely house also has two beautiful italian plum trees in the front yard that, come August, will be overflowing with hundreds of sweet plums. After hardly knowing what to do with all of the plums right after we moved in last summer, I vowed that this year I would be prepared with canning ideas and skills.

    Please help us raise our city chicks and make the most of an abundance of plums!

  • I can’t say that I have a running homestead or currently have projects related to it, but I have become keenly aware of the idea of making things and the fulfillment that comes from that. And seeing as I live in a University area with not much space in a rented house, it can be kind of hard! I’ve made a vow to learn how to make my own food from scratch and so far that has come in the form of noodles! This summer, I plan to grow a bigger vegetable garden along with an herb garden. And my goal is to also learn the ways of old in the forms of canning, bun and bread making, and other homesteading efforts!

  • I love canning! Last summer I canned tomatoes, chili sauce, pizza sauce, whole plums, peach jam, plum jam, peach/plum jam, pepper jelly, and a TON of pickled green beans and pickles! So fun and satisfying! Also I get the produce super cheap direct from the farm, which makes it a great deal. Pictures here: http://itseliz.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/canning-room/

    I love our three hens! 2 Barred Rock and 1 Rhode Island Red. They are so much fun to watch, and their eggs are so delicious. Pictures here: http://itseliz.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/chickens-2/

    Now that I am finally living somewhere with a yard, and it’s finally warm, its time to plant!

  • If I won this it would be gifted to to my sister (I sadly live in a small apartment, many houseplants, but thats it) She has a large vegetable garden from which she cans green beans, tomatoes, homemade spaghetti sauce and homemade jams. She also grows herbs to dry for tea. Her future plans include chickens (her town just passed a law allowing chickens) and she and her family are in the middle of a beekeeping class. I’m sure she would be delighted to use these books as reference.

  • I would love those books! We just moved to a new place with a huge yard and big garden as well as a plum and an apple tree. We’ve been waiting for the rain to clear so we can start preparing the garden for all kinds of veggies. The old place had just a small patch but this year we have room for everything – beets, zukes, melons, cukes, tomatoes, potatoes… Last year’s can be found:

  • I have never been successful at growing a garden, but my husband and I want to grow more of our own food. We are starting with fruit trees and vines. I love to can and look forward to the day that I can “put up” the produce from our back yard.

  • Oh these books look lovely (really LOOK lovely, great cover design). Someday I hope to have enough room to keep my own chickens. That’s been a dream of mine since I was little and visted a friend’s farm. Their rooster nailed me in the knee with one of it’s barbs when I was a kid, but that hasn’t swayed me!

    In the meantime, I have a patio garden I’m getting ready to start up, seeds for carrots, lettuce, peas, beans and broccoli are all germinating now. I tried growing luffas last year and was beaten by evil aphids. Hoping for better luck this year!


  • SO EXCITED! My boyfriend and I are now officially living on a small farm. Once a vision, our farm now consists of 27 chickens, 1 goat, 2 cats, 1 dog, 4 ducks (once 16 :( ), 1 snake, and lots of wild turkeys, deer, birds, and more! A total of 3 acres with the Eno River wrapping around our property, our growing North Carolina homestead is our dream!

    Here is are a few links for a look into our lives: our chickens: http://tinkmakesart.com/2010/04/04/maison-du-poulet/, our lil goat: http://tinkmakesart.com/2010/02/17/littleboegirl/, our ducks: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2161873&id=25100097, and a few close-ups of our home: http://www.flickr.com/photos/evitalephotography/4421133216/in/set-72157623588495710/

  • I live in Los Angeles, with zero outdoor space available for use outside my apartment. But this spring, I’m planning on planting vegetables and herbs at a friend’s home, as a sort of shared garden…and I’d love to implement a composting system, as well. Simple measures make such a big difference! Veggies and companionship…can you beat it?!

  • My 3 year old loves pickles and eats a jar of them everyday. we are excited to make some, since she always asks how they are made.
    I had a pet chicken growing up and would love for my kids to have that same experience.

  • These are two of our 11 chickens (Gladys and Cash), living in the very center of our fair city. http://apronstring.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/017.jpg

    There are a lot of chicken and garden photos on the blog… I’m a bit of a one-note on that. :-)
    Last spring we built a coop and started keeping chickens. We also started gardening, using two raised beds, and we canned pickles, but not much else because we didn’t really know what we were doing! (Would LOVE both books, as we could use much more guidance to grow more and save more of our efforts. This year, we started a lot more from seed…



  • My dream is to buy land in the country and raise my own meat, dairy and produce. My chickens will all be cage free, and find their grubs in the cow dung. As they scratch through it they will not only disperse it, but they will be my pest control and loosen the soil and fertilize it, and give the earth worms a happier home too. Back in real life, I will be planting herbs in recycled milk cartons. I have a large terra-cotta pot which will get my basil seeds. I cover the top in saran wrap until they sprout, and after the chilly weather passes, it creates a little greenhouse :) I cannot wait to make home-made pesto with the basil, to top my pizzas with since I won’t be growing enough tomatoes this year… it stinks to live in the city.

  • My boyfriend and I live in a 1760’s log cabin that he lovingly restored by hand. Along with the cabin we have 20 acres that we are trying to utilize to become more self sufficient when it comes to food. We are organically growing all heirloom herbs and vegetables for ourselves and to sell to others who also want more environmentally friendly gardens and dinner tables. My goal for the summer is to figure out how to can my vegetables and jams so they are really super-delicious, then enter them into the county fair and win a blue ribbon. I think this book would really help my chances of making this happen.

  • In our last (suburban) home we managed to have a wonderful raised garden bed with peas, pole beans (the best for anyone with a small space, but with a fence, shed, or wall!), beets, carrots, zucchini, herbs, and tomatoes. We also had a ever-bearing strawberry patch, blueberry bushes, a current bush and rhubarb plants. We really didn’t have a large yard, just tried hard to use our space very well. I also loved to pick the wild blackberries and blueberries that grew on the power easement behind our house. People used to ask me what I was doing and wonder that tough they had lived there their entire lives, they had never known you could eat the wild blackberries (!). Just goes to show you what you can do with a normal suburban lot if you are creative. This year we are in a much smaller city lot, but I still plan on growing my veggies and rhubarb. And here, the farmers markets are better, so I can very inexpensively can my own tomato sauce, peaches, pears, apple sauce, and jams. Still waiting for that hobby farm, but I’ll be busy while I wait!

  • We kept chickens (araucanas) in my backyard in Las Vegas for years when I was growing up. Waking up to fresh eggs in the morning was the biggest treat and tasted like nothing I have ever bought from the store. Recently I started working in the beginning stages of a community garden in Seattle and suggested putting in a coop with 3 chickens. I got some crazy looks from people.. so I’m glad to hear I am not the only one thinks it is a brilliant idea to keep chickens in a city!

  • We just put the finishing touches on our urban chicken coop – http://www.flickr.com/photos/geezeloise/4500865213/
    It holds 9 beautiful teenage hens that should be laying around mid-June. That’s our little one in the photo wearing her most favorite outfit. She takes great joy in picking handfuls of grass and going inside the coop to feed the birds. Our city lot also includes dwarf cherry trees, blueberries, blackberries and figs – all great for canning and freezing. Our asparagus bed is finally old enough to harvest and the vegetable garden is started with summer greens. What a treat and an incredible luxury it is to go outside and pick your own food. Nothing tastes quite as sweet.

  • I up-rooted my Surfer-husband from California last summer and moved to central Pennsylvania for my job (with 5 surfboards in tow). He was very sad at first, then said “If I’m going to live in rural PA, then I’m going to LIVE in rural PA!” He started working at a local organic farm over the summer (he is a teacher so has the summers off). When we bought a house he immediately built a chicken coop and got 6 Rhode-Island Red chicks before we even had a bed to sleep on! This fall he picked and pressed our neighbors’ apples into homemade apple cider, apple jelly and apple butter. He started a compost pile outside and a week ago broke ground for our first vegetable garden. He even visited a local sugar shack to learn how to tap the maple trees on our property to make homemade maple syrup! I am so proud of how enthusiastic he has become about living in the “middle-of-nowhere,” and know he would absolutely love getting these books to learn even more about canning and raising our chickens!

  • I’m in the process of convincing my fiance we’ve outlived “living in a city apartment” and ought to be ready to move to a townhouse somewhere with a garden and outdoor area, so far not working. But in the meantime, I’m hoping to have saved enough “pocket money” soon to be able to start growing some herbs and small plants on our balcony :D *And* my step-mum just sent me some info about bokashi – some organism to use in compost that makes it breakdown really fast so you can use even cooked food scraps and you can set it all up in just 2 buckets, which suits small apartment living perfectly, in readiness for my small garden soon!

  • This year will be my first with a little garden. I’ve planted three kinds of lettuce, broccoli and strawberries. I’m looking forward to seeing what grows in my soil and limited northeastern light. I’m also mulling over supplementing our compost bin (picked up by the city) with a worm bin!

  • The idea of keeping a flock of chickens in your yard sounds great, however one problem is that they make a lot of noise. I lived next door to people in a city that kept 4 chickens in their back yard and although they were hens, the sounds they made drove me crazy.

  • I can’t wait to have a compost area when we move – between our rabbit’s litterbox detritus and my husband’s coffee habit, we are going to have some kickin’ dirt!

  • My first venture into canning was in June of 2008. My husband and I had the most lovely, intimate wedding in July of 2008. Since we were having a small gathering of our closest friends and family I wanted to take the time and effort to make our wedding favors. And what make you think of summer memories more than homemade jam? A few weeks before the wedding my mom and I went to a pick-your-own organic farm and picked baskets and baskets of the freshest, sweetest strawberries we could find. I turned these strawberries into a jar of strawberry jam for each guest at the wedding. Everyone LOVED the jam! My niece and nephew loved it so much that it has now become a tradition for us to make jam together each summer. Last year we made raspberry jam, and these year we plan to make strawberry jam again. http://picasaweb.google.com/bpblank/JoshAndBethanyWedding?authkey=Gv1sRgCPynw-LLq-6KQg#5257373599030775986

  • I can’t believe my eyes! These look wonderful! These are both books that will live on my bookshelf someday, if not very soon…

    I’ve been knitting things from wool that I sheared from the sheep, hand processed, hand spun and then hand knit all by myself! It’s been eye-opening to make a garment completely from scratch and then to wonder how anyone did it not-so-long-ago. Here’s a link to my blog post about “Sheep to Feet in 14 Days”
    http://www.hitherehammy.com/2010/03/from-sheep-to-feet-in-14-days/…. enjoy!

  • Chickens will be perfect for my small Brooklyn yard. Last year I did a couple of boxes with vegetables. From the standard tomatoes, to some new things like beets, broccoli and even corn.

    There was a battle between the squirrels and myself for the corn. They won that battle but the war is on for this year.

    Here is the story and pictures of the the squirrel battle of 2009.


  • Canning and Chickens! Oh how you’ve taken me back. I grew up in rural Montana, with chickens clucking away in the backyard while my mother canned for the winter on hot summer days. Everything from peaches to tomoatoes to fresh mince meat for pies- great memories! Now that I’ve moved to California, I regret not having learned all of the techniques involved in canning. But we have so many wonderful local growers here that I’ve been inspired to try anyway. I started with local apricots off a neighbors tree, and while the jam was a bit runny, the fruit sugar was oh so sweet! So here comes Spring, and I’m up for the challenge again. While I too, live in a small apartment, unsuitable for the preferences of dear chickens and peeps, my kitchen is ready to go! Just today I picked a bushel of Loquats from a friends tree, and am ready for the weekend. Hope the weather is cool while I labor in love for the perfect jar of jam! Thanks for the inspiration! Can’t wait to read the book.

  • I’m really excited because my husband and I have always wanted chickens but thought we’d have to wait until we buy a farm for this! I’d be so excited to read this book and start a coop of my own!!

  • Right now I’m living in a teeny dorm, so I don’t have space for a garden (succulents don’t count, huh?), but once we finish our degrees my long term boyfriend and I are talking about moving in together and growing a lot of produce ourselves. Neither of us have especially green thumbs, but is a project that will help us grow together as we learn! (Plus, there is nothing better than home-grown tomatoes, right?)

  • This is my first year trying my hand at gardening and I simply cannot stop planting things in preparation.


    It’s hard to know who is happier about this, my grandfather or me. He still plants a huge vegetable garden and my grandmother still cans and preserves all their veggies. They have the kind of classic cold room in their cellar that I aspire to. With my little garden I am the only one of his kids and grandkids carrying on the gardening tradition. My 87-year-old “Bap” and his 30-something urban grand-daughter now bond over best seed varieties, natural pest control and whether 50 tomato plants are too many tomato plants.

  • These books are just PERFECT for my interests right now! I’m moving from a tiny apartment in the north to a house with (hopefully!) a yard in the South. All I can think about is how excited I am to have a place to garden and raise a few chickens.

    I really want Silkies, since I know going out to greet them every morning will help me start the day with a smile. And they lay beautiful brown eggs! What a perfect pet!

  • I’ve done a lot in my house the past few months. Haha, I just kinda went on a home improvement spree. I repainted and redesigned my room, I bought and planted several varieties of plants to spruce up the front entrance way and a couple rooms (the geraniums out front are my favorite). I also learned how to make refrigerator pickles via a recipe handed down from my great aunt!

    As for learning things – I’d really like to can some preserves…or jams. I’m just afraid to start without some guidance. Haha no botulism for me thanks.

  • A few years ago I worked on an organic goat farm in France with my boyfriend. I absolutely fell in love with the goats. They are beautiful animals. They had a chicken named Coquette and she would come in and out of the house and answer our questions with croaks (or she seemed to). Anyway, that experience was wonderful. They ran a little resto in the evenings and I made the meals everyday. I learned how to can meats, like duck stew and rabbit confit. I would pick apricots everyday to put on fruit tarts. Mmm. We still do all the canning every year. Especially, the tomatoes in the fall.

    I live in Montreal and my long term plan is to get a goat farm and use their wool for yarn and make goat cheese. This summer I will tackle the art of cheese making with local milks. In quebec, it is legal to buy unpasteurized milk. I would love to buy milk straight from the farmer and try some home made mozzarella. This is where I’m getting my info from and I’m hoping to do a workshop with her. http://www.cheesemaking.com/
    (heard about her in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle- Barbara Kingsolver)

    We are also starting a rooftop garden this spring. This is a huge challenge since all the plants in our apartment seem to die no matter how much care and love we give them. We’re blaming it on the lack of light, of course!

  • This past year I started small by planting potted herbs in my tiny apartment. They currently line the window sill of my home. As my husband and I just purchased a new home with a yard, we will be starting our own modest vegetable garden.

    Currently we have the custom of going fresh-fruit picking at a local farm on the in-season weekends. I would LOVE to start preserving and jamming using those beautiful local fruits.

  • These books look awesome!! Thanks for the opportunity to win them!

    I currently live in an apartment, but I try my hardest to homestead even with no yard. I compost with worms, garden at a community garden, and can or freeze fruits and veggies.

    I have a vermicomposting bin where my husband and I compost all of our kitchen scraps. Here are photos of my bin and our red wigglers! http://gluegunannie.com/?p=374

    Since we have no yard, we have a Community Garden plot. It’s such a great community place, and I can’t wait for our veggies to grow! So far we have planted sugar snap peas in the garden and have lettuce, broccoli, and tomato starts on my window sill. Here is a photo of our garden plot before we tilled up the soil: http://www.flickr.com/photos/anniedanko/4500993743/

    And here’s one example of something that I canned (applesauce!): http://gluegunannie.com/?p=427

    Thanks! I’m excited to learn about what everyone else does. :-)

  • I would like to grow my own vegetables, make my own clothes and bake my own bread, however, living in a 1 bdrm in a big city with two small children means I’m going to have to wait. I’m starting with occasional bread baking, when both me and my daughter are feeling an abundance of patience.

  • Two years ago on the way back to Boston from a ski trip, my boyfriend and I stopped off the highway to fill up on gas. There in the parking lot of the Mobile gas station, I noticed a lone white chicken appearing to be scared and lost. Before I had thought about what to do, I had already scooped her up and put her in a crate in the back of my car. I was afraid I had taken someone’s runaway chicken, however I was more concerned about her roaming around on a busy roadway. Her name became Salisbury after the town we found her in. Salisbury lived in the backyard of my boyfriends rental townhouse for three weeks. The first night, she laid one miniature egg, which we proudly scrambled and made tofu parm from. I was so in love with her- she had such a personality-sassy yet loving! She also loved to chat, especially during feeding time. Unfortunately Boston has a bylaw which prohibits the keeping of poultry. We found Salisbury a home at a chicken farm about 30-miles from Boston. I knew from that experience- I had to have more of my own. Next year I am northern bound; further from the city and most definitely with more space to hopefully fill with feather friends.

    xoxo, lauren

    From Untitled Album

  • In an effort to teach our daughters where REAL food comes from, my husband and I decided to add a vegetable garden and 4 chickens to our backyard. The two didn’t meld very well that first year (chickens like veggies as much as we do), but a fence built the next summer was an easy fix. As you can see from the photo, the hens are very sweet and tame and they give us the most delicious and beautiful brown eggs. And our garden put out so many tomatoes that we roasted them (with onions, garlic and basil also from the garden) and then water bath canned them for delicious sauce that has lasted our entire CHILLY Minnesota winter. Our girls have come to realize that fresh food grown with love but without chemicals tastes GREAT and is fun, too.




  • For a long time (and a long time ago), my goal was to homestead completely off the grid. But then I realized that I wanted to be able to have enough time to do other things besides homestead!

    Now that my husband and I have bought our first house (which we’re hoping to move into soon), I hope to keep some of those homesteading urges satisfied, even if I won’t be living off the grid. I would like to keep bees, and will definitely be composting to feed a garden of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and maybe a couple berry shrubs and a couple fruit trees.

    Until my husband and I can move in, though, I have made jams and preserves–and canned them!

  • I began gardening a few years ago, and began expanding my small garden ever since. At the moment I am growing those vegetables my family eats the most, including tomatoes, peppers, beans, basil and lots of other herbs. Okra and cucumber are both new to the garden this year, and I am beginning to run out of room for all of the little seedlings. I am hoping to grow enough this summer to preserve some of the harvest for winter enjoyment.

    Next year I hope to add fruit crops, and a few Chickens, but I need to research which varieties do best in the intense heat and humidity of Florida and how to best care for them before I dare take them home.

    Marigold Seedlings

    Current Garden Gallery

  • Oh wow – What a great resource these books look to be!

    I am a member of a shared garden. My friend bought a house a few years ago with a vision to turn the property surrounding the house into a productive and beautiful garden.

    After just a few years we’ve not only created that garden, but also a community of people that share it. The four housemates put a ton of work into the garden, and other folks (like me) who live nearby, help too. By involving many people, the workload for each individual is reduced, yet we all get to share in the amazing food that we grow together.

    Each season starts with a planning session in February, centred around a meal, with what we can find from the garden. This year there were still kale, carrots, leeks and sunchokes in the ground due to our mild West Coast winter. We then cook together, sit down to eat and plan our garden for the year. What follows is a season full of work parties, individual garden projects, and gloriously unmanageable amounts of food. Last year’s main success was growing, processing, cooking and eating our own quinoa!

    We’ve dabbled in canning and would love to strengthen our skills in this area. Bees and chickens are next on the list, with an apiary friend looking for a place to keep his hives, and some plans being hatched on where to situate the chicken coop.


  • Hooray for Ashley! I have made and canned applesauce and jam. Though I make pickled veggies often, I have never canned them, but would love to do so, along with summer fruits and chutney. I would love the guidance!

    Though I cannot have chickens of my own, I know lots of people who do, and are amitures at best-thought they have healthy flocks. Other homesteady activities include growning veggies, composting and knitting. Even if I don’t win, it is great to see so many people doing these things! love- Cait

  • We live in the city, just north of Virginia Beach, so there is NO room to keep chickens, and gardening’s a challenge what with living on reclaimed swampland and all. Last summer as I was raking and bagging and carting POUNDS of pears that fell from our trees, I had that thought that maybe these weren’t ornamental pears afterall. A little research and wouldn’t you know, we have two Seckel pear trees!

    The canner came out, and now we’re enjoying clove-studded pickled pears… I’m excited to learn more canning recipes to try with my newfound treasure!

  • We joined a local CSA last year and signed up for a bigger share this year because we loved it so much.

    We also decided to try our own hands at some gardening. So each member of the family selected one item to grow. So far, we’ve planted peach trees for my husband, and blueberry and raspberry bushes for me. We’ve purchased seeds for carrots (my 10-year old’s choice) and spinach (my 8-year old’s choice) and will plant them in a few weeks.

    We’re excited and hope to can some for the winter months!

  • Here’s a picture of my garden last summer: http://fieldwonderful.blogspot.com/2009/06/its-jungle-out-there.html

    My mom always grew herbs when I was a kid, and I had always dreamed of having my own garden. Last year my dream finally came true and the garden was plentiful–we had lots of tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and watermelons. I froze some things, so the garden continued to provide well into the winter.

    I’m moving soon to an apartment with no yard, so a garden won’t be possible this year. However, I have a CSA subscription and I’ve decided that this is the year I’ll start canning. I’ve always been intimidated before, but have finally decided to learn to can correctly and not to worry about botulism. I am so excited about making jams and putting up tomatoes and beans. I want to be able to eat local food all year round.

    My dream of keeping chickens is still a few years off, but I hope to someday have a house with a yard and chickens laying fresh eggs. Someday…

    (confession: i requested ashley’s books from my public library a few days ago, so i will read them even if i don’t win. however, i would absolutely love to have copies of my own to pull out year after year, and maybe even stain with my own homemade jam. it would be wonderful!)

  • I keep a garden behind the garage in the city we live. “I eat what I grow and can what a can’t eat!” Or, try my best at that. I have a worm bucket in the kitchen were we compost most kitchen scraps and a large compost area in the garden for leaves and such. Last year was a bad year for tomatoes where we are so I bought two bushels from the market on a trip to Montreal. My girlfriend and I canned them, made tomato conserva, pizza sauce and curry ketchup. It was wonderful! I wish the city let us have chickens. Sometimes I want to do it in protest! Maybe someday I will be brave enough to try.

  • I’ve entered this contest in honor of my three year old, Zoe. She lives in Chicago with me, her dad and her baby brother. Though we have little space, and only a small deck for growing green things, we try to incorporate a little bit of homesteading. Each summer, we ‘pick our own’ strawberries and blueberries for jam. Her little hands love picking (and eating), cleaning and sorting, painting labels, and best of all mashing the fruit!



    We keep a small container garden on the deck, growing tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and Zoe’s all-important “stick garden.”

    And Zoe and I secretly want to raise a couple of chickens one day, when we have a real garden to keep them in!

  • How lovely!

    We’ve been practicing our own urban homesteading in Oakland, CA since 2005. We have a small vegetable garden full of biointensive farming practices, we’ve reclaimed a handful of fruit trees on the property, we can, we jam, we use gray water for our flower bed, we compost, and we also do a little urban foraging to forgotten plum trees behind our yard. Here’s a post that shares our strawberry jam process. (And I would LOVE to read & use your books.)


  • Oh how I would love to be able to flawlessly can and preserve vegetables and fruits. My husband and I have two brown thumbs, but somehow ended up with a fruitful garden last summer on our first attempt. I tried canning tomato sauce and nothing but foul words came out of my mouth as I burned my hands, made a mess and ultimately failed. I would love to be more graceful with jars, lids and accidental veggies. :)

  • I have always had a deep-set desire to be a southern belle. So exactly one week after my upcoming college graduation in Massachusetts I am uprooting myself, boyfriend and little fat dog to pursue my big dreams in the little city of Athens Georgia.
    I am dedicating the next year of my life to remodeling a old home, building the ideal studio space and growing an immense garden. Along with these goals I plan to gather a family of animals to keep fat little Samsam company in his new home.
    As of yet I do not have the knowledge necessary to achieve all of my goals and these books would be very much used and appreciated.

  • My mom has a farm she inherited from her father in Spain. It’s on the Tagus river, and someday, my fiancee and I want to move there and grow olive trees, raise sheep and chickens. We’re both in grad school right now, so neither of us have the time or space to get started quite yet, but we’re enamored of the idea of living off the land and participating in a semi-traditional Spanish farm life. I spent all my childhood summers on the farm, so it’s very dear to my heart.
    It already has chickens, and we had sheep when I was little, but it’s mostly agricultural now.
    Aside from olive trees, I think we’d also plant almond trees, and make traditional manchego cheese from the sheep’s milk, like I used to watch my grandma make.

  • Love the books. My husband and I just bought a house and are renovating it- inside and out. I have been gardening & composting in our current house for the past 3 years. The new neighbor has an enviable garden, and a huge canning operation. I’d like to sustain ourselves on food we grow ourselves as well. We are a long way off from growing a garden this year- but I am planning on it in the near future. As soon as we get the wood paneling out of storage in the greenhouse….

  • For the last twenty-five years my parents have been making their own apricot jam. When I was old enough, I too began to help. This past summer, we made pickles for the first time!! Now that I’ve moved out and am in graduate school, its been a chore (but a blessing) trying to recreate these experiences with my boyfriend. We’re hoping to get married soon, find a house, and live an energy-efficient, green lifestyle including our own organic garden, chickens, and canning! Hopefully my apricot jam will be as wonderful as my parents!

  • ok first, i love the title of the blog post – canning chickens is the best of both worlds? :)

    http://ecogrrlnetwork.blogspot.com/2010/03/march-7-and-feet-are-up.html is where i have bits and pieces of my garden this year posted! after having all shade due to evil weed trees 60′ high in my backyard, i finally sent ’em packing last fall, let the ground chill all winter, and built raised beds out of leftover concrete blocks and scrap wood, and built structures for my peas and beans to climb on from the branches of a holly tree we cut down. planted everything by seed so far. after last year’s ‘driveway garden’ (http://ecogrrlnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-driveway-garden.html) i am so psyched to expand like this. i bought a little half-chest freezer just for all the veggies i want to freeze, and cleared out shelves in the basement for the amount of tomatoes i’m going to can into chopped, sauce, salsa, and ketchup. YUM.

    go ashley go ashley go ashley go!

  • Wow, tons of comments! Well, i have started growing my own garden as practice… my real aspirations involve my husband and I after we move. We met on the same archaeological dig in Jordan and got married quite a while later. He immigrated here but we eventually plan on moving back there. I have slowly started cataloging and collecting all kinds of heirloom and open pollinated seeds (I have over 400 kinds now) and I am collecting books on how-tos (like making cheese) so that I can be my own little self-contained unit over there getting proper ricotta and growing interesting tomatoes :) We have also talked about possibly looking into shipping fertilized eggs because I want some Ameraucanas and such that aren’t over there. I want to have at least a couple of chickens, and one will definatly be named Henrietta. I mean really. How could I not? These books look great to add to my collection (especially the chicken book). Whoever wins though, I totally wish them the best and all the success with their dreams for sure!

  • I have always been a big fan of canning and want to be more consistent about it this year. I would also like to start a worm composting bin–since I live in a small apartment, it would be the best option!

  • We bought our first house last fall and have already learned to boil delicious maple syrup into 3 pitiful pints. Our next big project is planting a new garden full of cucumbers for delicious garlic pickles and a handy book on canning would do us a world of good! We need all the help we can get!

  • We just got 6 laying hens last year, and we are enjoying the eggs already. I esp. love the blue Ameraucana (sp?) eggs. My 7 y.o. does a lot of the tending and has lots of questions that we can’t answer (Are they molting or is there a mite problem? Is Charlie broody or eggstipated? One chicken is sneezing–does she have a cold?). We have a lot to learn!

    This year we are expanding our garden and hoping to do some canning this summer. I can hardly wait to have some dill pickles and make some jam. When our Seville orange tree finally starts producing my m-i-l is going to show me how to make proper British marmalade…mmm. I can hardly wait.

    We compost the chicken and rabbit manure along with our fruit and veggie waste. My 7 y.o. hopes to learn about vermiculture so we can have worm compost as well (and a few wormy treats for the chickens).

    These books sound very helpful.

  • I’ve been getting into the idea of homesteading progressively more over the past two years. I’ve been following a Jenna author of Made from Scratch as well as Carleen Madigan. When I started following these girls i lived in an apartment, but did as much gardening as I could on my 80 sqft patio. I’ve grown tons of herbs as well as jalapenos, strawberries, and tomatoes. After recently buying my first house I have upgraded from my tiny patio to my new quarter acre yard! I have a lot of big plans in the works!( http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=44001462&aid=2138268#!/photo.php?pid=34093724&id=44001462) this is the home of my future veggie garden. We are extending the fence line for optimal growing optintal! We are removing a lot of privet that was planted for privacy and replacing it with raspberries and black berries. I have a bed that is currently being transformed into my herb garden, and have stared half of my garden inside by seeds after sending of to about 10 different seed catalogs. I want to be as self sufficient as possible while having a beautiful and green place to call home!

  • I live in a tiny, sun drenched apartment in Washington, DC. I would like to do two things:
    1. grow herbs, flowers, and maybe some vegetables/fruit in window boxes
    2. start an indoor herb garden on a wall in my kitchen, that would give me herbs year round

    I’m very interested in the square foot gardening method, so I was thinking of using that mixture of growing soil.

    I also have a love affair with pickles, which is why I’m posting this comment :)

    I wonder if I could grow pickling cucumbers in a window box?

  • Despite the fact that due to the layout of our backyard we don’t have any true “garden” space but are limited to containers…

    This year we’re expanding our back-deck container garden significantly! We’re growing a crazy number of plants: four different kinds of heirloom cherry tomatoes, two different kinds of 8-ball (round) zucchini, red sweet peppers, hot peppers, sweet peas, snow peas, lettuce, arugula, mache, spinach, mustard greens, kale, chard, carrots, two kinds of beets, two kinds of radishes, green onions and a sheer ton of herbs.

    We’re also going whole-hog into preserving the harvest this year for the first time (assuming I figure it all out!) – canning, freezing, and I hope to even have my own pressure canner by fall so I can put up low-acid foods as well!

    One day, the chicken thing will be a possibility as well, but for now, it’s just so satisfying to grow our own food, eat it fresh off the plant, and be able to preserve the rest for the winter season.

    Somehow, it really just connects me to the past and makes me feel like I’m *accomplishing* something for my family. :)

  • I love love love Ashley’s blog and have been following for awhile! I live in a tiny apartment with tiny little porch — in which we grow herbs a few flowers and tomatoes all of which go into my regular cooking and recipes I share with friends and family on my food blog! I would love to have a copy of her canning adventures so I can start my own!

  • I wish with all my heart that I could keep chickens. It is not allowed in my municipality. I am thinking it might be easier to move than to fight it! I do what I can to be a homesteader in other ways though. I bake my own everything. Bread, crackers, tortillas, and of course cakes and cookies. We decided this year that we are not joining a CSA but instead will grow our own. I have 24 tomato and 12 pepper seedlings on my windowsill right now and my project for tomorrow is to build a salad table to grow lettuces where the bunnies and groundhogs can’t get to them. I am sure they are reading this and laughing at me right now!

  • I live in an apartment, which sadly does not lend itself to gardening…but I intend to get some window baskets and grow some lettuce and herbs!

  • Desperate “farm sitter” needs books! I only just discovered this contest and with more time I could do up some grand footage of me chaotically attempting to take care of the homestead while my landlords took a two week trip to Mexico. Sure this all sounds fine and easy enough. “Feed the pigs, ducks, chickens, goats and dog twice daily…” Ugh, ok! The first few days were pretty smooth but thing got crazy when 3 of the goats, I repeat, 3 OF THE GOATS, decided it was a good time to give birth!!! Literally, out of nowhere this small family farm was running wild with 5 new baby goats (or “kids” so they tell me). Thank god for the internet! Anyway, long story short, in the hustle and bustle of new activity some of these so called chores got a little delayed. The routine was off and all the animals seemed to know it. The pigs turned into bullies and were prepared to take me down at the slightest stumble during my sprint to their trough. And the ducks and chickens got a little too comfortable during their feeding times and started stalking the porch where their feed supply is located. I seriously think they got together and started organizing a mutiny because their new habit was to lay their eggs under a pallet in the goat house requiring getting on all fours for retrieval. Yuck! Not to mention the panic attacks they would give me with their feathered harassment much to close to my ears. Farm care slowly started to give me anxiety so I was relieved when the farm owners returned home. I was happy to put the homestead back in their care, but even that proved challenging. Apparently the whole family was sick from the water in Mexico so I “happily” continued my duties for another three days. The lessons I learned from this experience? Free range means FREE RANGE when you are living on the homestead. Oh, and you can only eat so much quiche before you start to gross people out…
    Enjoy these photos.

    PS- Writing this just inspired me to consider doing a farm blog. How do you like “You’re bacon me crazy!”? Hahahaha…
    I really do love this little farm. It keeps things interesting.

  • Oh man, I would love both of these books! Last year I made a bit of jam (fig jam from the tree in my yard, strawberry jam, and blackberry apricot jam) and I’m gardening on my balcony again this year. My seedlings are looking great, and hopefully I’ll have peas and lettuce ready in a few weeks. I love the idea of having chickens (fresh eggs, sigh) but I don’t think my landlord would go for it. I’m making the best of living in Queens, and enjoying every minute!

  • My husband and I bought our first house last year and I have had so much fun growing our own veggies and raising chickens.

    I had never raised a chicken before, but my husband had, so he taught me the ropes and before long, we had healthy, full-grown, egg-laying chickens! I remember the first day there was an egg in the coop, I screamed out loud I was so excited. I’m sure our neighbors thought I was crazy. We currently get 2 eggs a day from our 2 hens, which is plenty for the two of us for now. We also trade with our neighbors: fresh eggs for avocados from their trees. Delicious!

    This year, I have already begun planting eggplant, zucchini, strawberries, onions, basil, and tomatoes. I have 16 tomato plants in the ground, so I would love to learn how to preserve fruits and veggies (since it looks like I will be needing to know how!). I’m also looking forward to getting lemons, limes, and tangerines this year from the trees we put in the ground last spring. I’m dying to preserve lemon and use it later in baking.

    You can check out our “farm” over on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/inklingpaper/sets/72157623581709488/

    Thanks for the chance to win the books!

  • I discovered the Little House books sitting on a dark green wood bench in my Montana country schoolhouse. We didn’t have a library so book shelves lined the walls of the space that had been the original one-room schoolhouse. I was eight years old. From those magical words, my dream of living as Laura Ingalls Wilder did…on a homestead with a wood cook stove; gardens; chickens; and sheep has never faded through many years of teaching and living in Alaska. Now that I am back home in Montana I am returning to my roots and relearning the wisdom of women who shaped my life; my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Gardening. Preserving. Canning. Homemade graham crackers and whole wheat biscuits and thick molasses cookies and pumpkin pancakes made from my pumpkins. Serving food instead of “products” at my table. My next journey will be relearning the nuances of gardening in Montana’s fickle weather…then raising free range chickens…then moving to my own little homestead under Montana’s Big Sky. And yes…building a cabin just like the one on the Little House TV show. My daughter loves the land too. I tell her stories about the heritage of the land her ancestors homesteaded and I teach her the grandmother’s ways. She is as committed to “living simply so that others can simply live” as I am.

    Her name is Laura.

  • Funny story about this book… every time my husband and I go to Powell’s (a bookstore in Portland and mecca for book-lover’s everywhere) I see Ashley English’s “Keeping Chickens” and tell my husband how much I want to have chickens. Every. Time. And every time he teases me: first, because I tell him EVERY time; second, because we live on the fourth floor of an apartment building downtown. But I would love to have chickens someday, and for the time being we’ve started growing our own veggies on our tiny little terrace. One step at a time, I guess! Today: veggies. Tomorrow: a family farm in the English countryside :o)

  • I canned for the first time this year! My sister and I did pickled beets – which I love. Not only do they taste great – they’re the most beautiful color.
    Here’s one pic:

  • What a generous giveaway!
    We live in a small townhouse with a large decked backyard. My 6 year old has a growing interest in gardening and composting as his school contains no garbage cans and they have a daily “kindergarden” to maintain.
    We would love to set up some boxes in our space and fill them with lots of herbs, carrots, beans, strawberries… you name it! I’ve been thinking about herbed jellies and canning them to enjoy them year round would be so fantastic.

  • My goal after this summer is to be a canning pro. Maybe not so much out of pleasure and desire, but of necessity. Please view picture below:
    (Do notice the very attractive cat proof chicken wire) This was our dining room table, now overcome with over 50 seedlings we planted a few weeks ago. My boyfriend and I grossly underestimated the number of viable seeds in a pack… ALL of them grew. So now, although blessed with a tiny backyard in Brooklyn we have WAY too many tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers… etc. Our goal is to be able to can the surplus for pickling, for the winter, and for gifts to friends and family! Problem is, we know nothing about canning (literally nothing except that we’re going to have to save some money for mason jars)

    And chickens… don’t even get me started. When I was in high school I had a chick named Chickie. (My mom worked at a lab and saved him after they were headed to the chopping block after an experiment– he was the control chick) He slept on my bed wrapped up in a towel. He thought I was his mother and followed me around everywhere and sat on my shoulder when I watched TV. My family was a little put off, but hey, he was cute. Unfortunately, he was a “he” and had to be relocated a few months later… Needless to say, I think about getting chickens everyday. I am also an egg fiend.

  • My homesteading efforts are of late directed toward making gardening more accessible to Seniors and people with disabilities. I am leading a project to build an accessible garden that features table-top beds for people in wheelchairs, vertical wall gardens, tactile beds for visual impairments, accessible paths and much more! We break ground in May. I don’t have a picture of that garden, so am showing this beautiful garlic scape from my other homesteading endeavor: our student-run garden at UW-Madison – aspiring homesteaders with small apartment yards coming together in community! We even run a small CSA.


    I do some canning, but want to learn more. I also keep a very fertile worm bin! I am hoping to start chickens this summer, and would really appreciate this book as a resource. Someday my husband and I hope to move from our urban space into the country where I’ll be able to use my Horticulture Therapy education to work with people with disabilities and long-term illnesses. For now, we’re making the best of our yard and community spaces!

  • I would like to nominate my twin sister, Amy Brown. She and her husband Chris started the Common Thread Community Farm in upstate New York. They are hard working and live life to full. They grow organic vegetables, manage a chicken coop, raise pigs named after celebrities, and now proud farm parents of three-month old baby Georgette. They live life in a pure, wholesome way and I know she would love these books! Thank you!

  • In the short term, what I really want is to move to a place where I have space for an outdoor garden (and composter). Longer-term, I’d love to grow asparagus. It takes so much patience and a degree of permanence. When I grow asparagus, I think I’ll consider myself to be settled – something I’ve never been!

  • Oh, I do wish I had an image to share with you.. but I don’t. Our efforts to date are not as extensive as I would like.. but we’re getting there. Mostly we do some canning of fruits and jams. We garden a whole lot including a supply of yummy veggies for Indian cooking. The extras get frozen for later in the year. We’re getting our seeds started and planning for another raised vegetable bed.

    One day I would love to have chickens and fresh eggs. My oldest son (5 y.0) keeps asking me to give him farm chores because that would keep him “real busy.” We better get on it before he loses his enthusiasm, huh?

    Thanks for the opportunity.

  • Nestled in the backyard of our Kansas City neighborhood, we heart our urban chickens: Miss Lucille, Miss Reva and Miss Mabel (all named after our Great Grandmothers).

    Maybe we love them a little too much.

    Here is a little lesson in WHAT NOT TO DO WITH YOUR CHICKENS…

    DO NOT let your thirty pound cat in the coop (note the lovely window boxes on our chicken house): http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?pid=11734791&id=645885117&fbid=10150168203475118

    Do not let your child eat a lollipop near a chicken (see the coop and picket fence that my husband built to match our house?): http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?pid=11734804&id=645885117&fbid=10150168204105118

    And do not bring your hens in the house to poop on your furniture (or your lap):

  • My family and I are starting to get chicken fever. Every night at dinner we discuss what color eggs we would like, how to divide up the tasks of care and of course names for our new pets. My husband is spending hours on the internet looking for coop plans and myself at different breeds. I love the fact that my children ages 7 and 4 year old twins will discover how an animal can grow, develop and produce beautiful edible eggs. It will be a life lesson for all of us!!! I would love these books to get us started and maybe my next project will be learning to garden and can like my grandmother.

  • i am submitting for part of my soul, my friend Marie. She is getting married in a month in California. Her soon to be husband and her made the transition into homesteading about the same time I did. However, they took it a little more seriously than I did. They headed for a farm in Texas to get hands on, and I headed to industrial China to become frustrated by reading Michael Pollan and Bill Mollison and not having anything to do about it.

    So for my dearest friend who is doing something about the beauty of our life with her inhereted farm in Oakdale, California, I submit this for her. Hopefully it will help her in her journey to opening up a CSA and becoming a hot mama femivore.

    So this is for all the femivores out there… http://www.grist.org/article/the-femivore-new-breed-of-feminist-or-frontier-throwback/

    fingers crossed.

  • So, it is an ongoing process. My wife and I both work for an organic family farm, however we can not get our hands dirty enough. We tripled our home garden this season and have added 8 fruit trees to have our own orchard. Next season we will add 4 more fruit trees and our berries. We are currently designing our moveable chicken coop; then we will add 3 chickens. We have kept everything local and organic, and have even included some friends in on the fun. We are novice canners, and try to include the ideas into our CSA.

  • i am an avid pickler & jammer. saving the season stemmed out of my desire to grow most of what i eat…as a way to make my garden last throughout the year. but it has turned into so much more.

    i’ve started a year long ‘can jam’ with over 100 people, mostly bloggers – basically we’re canning our way through 2010 and shouting about it.

    you can read about the can jam and my pickling and jamming adventures here:


    (i have a confession to make: i’ve already bought ashley’s canning book – and love it. so if i did win i would pass it on BUT – i have a secret desire to raise chickens, and i don’t know a thing about it, so it’s that book i’m lusting after for myself!)


  • In 2005 my boyfriend and I bought a house in the little town of Seaview, WA. Built in 1985, our itty bitty tiny beach shack still had all of its original windows, none of which opened. When we replaced all the old windows I couldn’t bare to toss them, so we built a small greenhouse in the back yard. By the end of every summer my tomato plants are happily climbing the walls and I have a fantastic crop of homegrown jewels.

    I would love to read these books to learn how to can my tomato crop and perhaps find a way to tuck a chicken coop into another corner of my miniscule yard.

    Here’s a photo of the greenhouse early in the season before the tomatoes have really let loose:

  • I have really embraced the urban farming movement, starting with the four chickens that I got last year. They have proved to be the very best pets a girl could ask for. They each have these funny little personalities, and they are great for the soil and pest control. This year, I am taking my little patch of land a step further and planting a large herb garden and veggie garden.

    If the garden does well, I will need a copy of that canning book! Fingers crossed!

    Congrats Ashley on the release of your books…I read your blog and have been following your journey for some time now!

  • I would love to start a herbal tea garden in my courtyard and also a vertical garden. Eeee… fingers crossed for these great books x

  • I really want to can tomatoes this year. I have been to the feed store 5 times looking at the baby chicks, trying to grock everything I need to get going… seems like i am making it a bigger deal than it needs to be…(help). At night I tell my 2 year old … you will have nice dreams of butterflies and birds and then he says ” and chickens.” Today I made the most divine butter and strawberry jam with my 10 yr old.

  • Ooh, my two current obsessions! Here’s a blog post of last fall’s canning bounty:


    Here’s my Fantasy Chicken team:


    And just for some over-the-top cuteness points, a gratuitous shot of my gardening assistants:


    As you can imagine, I’d love to win these books—but I’ll be reading them either way.

  • Oh man, hope I’m not too late… It’s not 12 am in California!


    This, my friends, is the beginnings of basil. I got a little starter seed set from Erin Bried, author of How to Sew a Button, at an event at Housing Works Bookstore. This is a very exciting moment because I was sure that the seed would never, ever sprout.

    The one time I ever tried to plant an herb ended in tragic hilarity. My room mate at the time wanted to start a container herb garden and a tomato plant. We went to a nearby nursery and he picked up three herbs (I can’t remember what they were, but I think basil was one of them) and the tomato plant. I only chose one other herb, rosemary, because it’s my favorite besides cilantro. All of the plants flourished… except, of course, for the rosemary, which shriveled up into a dry husk. Meanwhile, if you have ever seen a wild rosemary plant, they grow like weeds to epic proportions, but I somehow could not handle it. I am less nurturing than the dry patch of red earth next to an old mail box of mine in Georgia where there grows a 4′ high rosemary bush. The experience turned me off from growing my own herbs, but seeing as this little basil kit was free, I decided to give it another shot. So far, so good.

    Here is hoping that these two little buds become something delicious.

  • I’ve started making jam from my mom’s raspberry patch and this year I’m going to start my own patch! Yay! We have a huge yard and want to get chickens too… just a little flock of 5 to 10 to provide us with fresh eggs and eat the ants from my flower gardens. These books would be a great addition to my library!

  • Hm, and either my comment was 54 minutes late or I’m totally stupid and actually have a day left. *crosses fingers*

  • Growing up, I had a Mother and a Father that were both hard working and raised 7 children “homemade”. My father kept bees and took pride in working in the garden. As a child, I have many happy memories of all the garden fresh produce and watching Mother work to preserve all of its bounty.

    Now, with a family of my own, I am trying to learn and incorporate what I can… currently gardening and composting.


    I think the most important thing is doing what you can with the space you have. Now days, you can have the joy of a garden with very little space at all.


    The information from either of these books would be invaluable. I would really like to learn more about both keeping chickens and preserving.

  • Since I was diagnosed with a chemical sensitivity to citric acid, I have been canning tomatoes (it’s next to impossible to find them commercially without it). I also have been making my own salsa as well. I buy beautiful roma tomatoes from a farmer and they are so much better than store bought. And this year, I’m planning to make a little garden in my yard, in place of planting flowers.

  • We’ve taken the chicken plunge and now have 3 “big girls” outside and 2 “little girls” living in the guest room at the moment. Chickens are a delight! We even have a Turkey, who was going to be a Thanksgiving treat this year, but warmed her way into our hearts as a pet. I have composed some silly songs in her honor… The eggs are outstanding. The backyard is an ever expanding experiment in veggies, kiwi, grapes and just about anything that’s edible. I bought a canner last year, but was too intimidated to actually can anything. I could really use some tips and encouragement here!
    The photo I took is of my husband, Chad and Sue-Ellen reading the paper.

  • I’m so excited about these books- I love making jam, and I’m hoping to expand my canning repertoire this summer (if my large and voracious family doesn’t eat all of the tomatoes our bushes produce). I live with my parents on close to an acre of land in suburban California, and even though we have a lot of space, it still takes careful planning to have an abundant garden. Right now we have a kitchen garden with eight raised beds and citrus trees, but this year I’m hoping to expand the back garden to grow larger crops of tomatoes, squash, melons, and cucumbers. My goal is for my family to be completely self-sufficient when it comes to vegetables and herbs this summer- hopefully my plants will cooperate and give me bumper crops!

  • I started my first official garden this year! Next year we’re planning to start keeping chickens and MAYBE a pair of pygmy goat does!

  • I don’t have pictures of it, but my husband is building a chicken coup and we are so excited to be getting chickens in the near future! What a perfect giveaway! I would also like to plant a vegetable patch. I just had a baby and we just moved this past year, so we were a little too busy to start gardening much, but I have big plans! I want to plant some fruit tree as well and to start composting. It’s so fun being a homeowner and becoming more self-sustaining. I love it.

  • OH MY GOODNESS! A woman after my own heart! I am a little obsessed with the practice of self-sufficiency! I currently live in a rented home, but keep 3 chickens (Bandit, Goldie, and Griffin) who provide delicious eggs and hours of amusement/friendship. I have converted as much yard space as my landlord will allow to garden space and can the bounty that can’t be eaten in time. I have made it a goal to buy as few new things as possible and when I do try to source things locally or MAKE it!

    Someday I will have a little land of my own that will be all urban and all farm… I can’t wait. Until then: http://www.flickr.com/photos/annaiswild/sets/72157623560977246/


    PS I can ALWAYS use extra tips/recipes/building plans/info!

  • I love that this is cool in our world again! I canned as a girl with my grandparents and we never were short in supply of canned cherries, peaches, pears or apple sauce. I haven’t been brave enough yet as an adult to do any hot water bath canning but we do pickle string beans from our garden,which is quickly taking over our backyard.(http://www.flickr.com/photos/9409164@N02/4501502939/)

    Our city yard is too small and close to neighbors for chickens but our local nursery woman raises her own and sells me her eggs. It’s a happy, happy world.

  • I recently made some lemon curd with friends, and it was so easy (and fun to do as a communal event) that I want to start making more jams and preserves.


    The next thing I want to try is making pickles. In London, there is a scheme called Food Up Front where they give you a container and seeds to grow vegetables in your (often unused) front garden – I also have some rocket and other herbs I want to grow.

  • Love canning and all the goods that come in it!! This has been something that everyone did when I was growing up in Europe. Great to see a book on it :)

  • I’m attempting to grow 45 vegetables and herbs on a 13th floor apartment balcony in inner city Sydney, Australia. It’s all organic no chemicals or pesticides so quite a challenge keeping the bugs at bay. I hope my Edible Balcony will be a motivation to others to do the same. Not having a garden is no longer an excuse!
    Love your blog by the way.

  • I live for both DS and SM! My husband and I purchased our first home in the heart of Seattle a little over a year ago. We have spent many cold months renovating the inside (painting, wiring, tiling, insulating, etc.)
    and are anxiously awaiting spending the spring getting our yard ready for the warm months.
    We are surrounded by friends, family, and neighbors that have spent years cultivating their beautifully landscaped yards and gardens. While we’ve recieved an abundance of advice and starts, we’ve got so much more to learn!
    In the past year we’ve added a half a dozen fruit trees and bushes on our little 5000 sq ft lot. Last week we created our first raised beds (3 – 4’x8′), and we still have room for chickens! I’ve been seriously talking about raising my own since we’ve been in the house (even though my family and friends think I’m nuts!). I figure with an architect hubby (who can make a super cool retro chicken coop) we’re destined to have our own. Before I get ahead of myself I’ve got to note four things.
    1. This will be our first garden ever and although I’ve tried to read everything I can get my hands on, It’s an experiment!
    2. I only want to grow so that I can share. (What small family can eat 100 lbs of kiwi in one season?! 0r 3-6 eggs a day for that matter!)
    3. I plan on buying Ashley’s books regardless.
    4. The woman (Jaymie) who posted for her friend (and three girls) to win (on April 7th, 2010 – 1:55 pm) should absolutely get these books!

    Lastly, here’s a post and pictures of my first canning experience with my great-grandmothers pickle recipe last fall.


  • We recently made a move from the city to the country and we are loving the space that we have. and we use it to grow our own food.

    Because we have such poor drainage in our soil (it rains a lot during winter), we set up 6 very old timber & steel apple crates that we salvaged from one of the apple orchids near where we live and we filled them with vegetable seeds. The raised beds really helps with drainage and the veggies love their homes. For info on using big old wooden apple crates as vegetable gardens, check here: http://sarahandtim.com/wooden-apple-crates-as-raised-vegetable-garden-beds

    When you set up your beds, you ahve to protect them from possums, birds and any vermin that you have sneaking around. We used bird netting, teamed with some long stakes and a pack of tennis balls:


    Currently growing is silverbeet, carrots, peas, lettuce, artichoke, broccoli, cauliflower, zuchini and strawberries. They are all going very well.



    My latest prized posession is a small greenhouse which I will use to germinate my seeds in for the next 5 months or so.

    My best ebay find ever was a recent find, a super ‘Tumbleweed’ brand composter, which is a huge step up from my previous composter. The key to composting is turning the compost every week to let air circulate in there which helps the decomposing process. This new super composter I have makes turning easy, just swing it around like you’re picking a winning ticket out of a barrel and it’s turned.

    With the amount of veggies that we have growing at the moment, there is no way that we can eat all of it ourselves. There will of course be the obligatory lettuce or 5 thrown the neighbours’ way and perhaps 20 or so carrots when they become ready to harvest in about 3 weeks (we have over 200 carrots currently growing!).

    We recently pulled up some radishes which we would have loved to preserve for eating at a later date but, alas, we didn’t have Ashley’s book to give us all the hints and tips on canning and preserving :) We hope that with the veggies that we pull out this season we might be able to make a go of preserving some of them, with the help of Ashley’s book.

    Last weekend we salvaged a stack of timber posts and iron sheets from a demolition of a shed that was happening near us and we’ll be using that to build a chicken coop and a chicken ‘tractor’. A chicken tractor is like a big long chicken coop structure where if you can’t have the chickens free-ranging during the day, you let them free-range in the chicken tractor – anyway, it has stroller wheels attached to one end of it, and the idea is that you pick up the other end and walk it around the yard where you want the chickens to graze. That way, they’re protected all during the day and not prone to fox or cat attack.


  • i’m entering for me & my dad.he has chickens at his place and has actually hatched a few little babies recently, one who was lucky enough to escape the jaws of life (our neighbours dog’s mouth). he’s going to help me in the future set up a chook pen (when i have a bigger place). in the meantime he’s helping me crate a mini-compost system for my apartment

  • Hello there from Portugal! My boyfriend and I are currently on a quest to find a piece of land to start our organic farming project. Although being a city boy and girl, we have been growing more and more aware of the food industry massification and how it has been taking over our mediterranean healthy way of eating and leaving, and we are eager to get our hands in the dirt and be part of the food revolution that is coming on our way. Involving local communities is a major goal, so along with that project I would personaly like to try and materialize an organic community plot in our cozy yet touristic little village (Sintra), where people could learn about growing vegetables, about preserving food. A place where they could come with their children, and cook together some meals with seasonal fresh ingredients. Oh, and did I mention I just LOVE Ashley’s column on D*S, AND her blog? Seriously.

  • These books are gorgeous! I hope to grow my own herbs in my next apartment as I am a complete fail at it right now. I do collect my food waste for composting though, it really is an easy thing to do here in Germany as each house has it’s own “green recycling bin” that is emptied on a regular basis.

  • I live in Vienna, Austria, and have an inner city yard of 350 squaremeters (which is very rare indeed). As I started having my own little garden with 2 beds, a composting bin and some fruit trees and some flowers, I think I am ready for the next step: CHICKEN! And as I can’t order the book online from Vienna nor get it in stores over here (AND finally managed to convince both my husband and my Weimaraner Schulz that this is a good idea) I’d be really really delighted if you send me a copy. Please!

  • It’s 6 am and I’m checking my favorite blogs and when I saw this post I knew EXACTLY what I wanted..these books for my sister! She and her husband live in Bellingham, WA and they recently moved to an acreage. It’s sort of the “Green Acres” life that Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor had. Her husband is gung ho live off the land and she’s not a “city” girl, but not sure “farm livin’ is the life for her”. These books would be perfect to get her kick started. They just seem so foundation savvy!

  • My partner and I have a dream (in Boston!) of being able to look out the door of a workroom, where sawdust is settling from building all our own furniture out of reclaimed wood from barn doors, into a yard full of beds of produce (fertilized from our compost pile) and a small flock of chickens chasing bugs, maybe even someday a goat. We dream of moving from relying on our veggie, meat, and fish CSAs (which, let me tell you, means a lot of pick ups!!) and farmer’s markets to relying on our garden, with a little help from our friends at local farms. Of growing from just canning enough tomatoes and dilly beans to get us through the winter to canning and preserving enough of everything to get us through the winter. Also, I dream of actually doing a good job of documenting it, since right now, having really just picked up a camera a few months ago I’m starting by photoing what I cook from my CSAs (baby steps…)

  • Congratulations Ashley – growing, canning, and raising chickens has been a big part of my life for many years. You can take a peek at it here:


    And at our old place:


    Now I’m a graduate student in landscape architecture. It’s gratifying to have so many of my fellow students (who are much younger than me) get interested in these endeavors. They’ve come up with wonderful ideas for incorporating critters and food crops into so many of their designs. I’d love to see more featured on this blog!

  • Awesome! I love her blog.
    I would LOVE to really learn to can. I make freezer jams and really enjoy the process, but have been intimidated by “real” canning.
    I already keep chickens in my backyard, and think it’s so wonderful to see growing interest in this practice! Yay Ashley! Thanks for putting these awesome books out there. Can’t wait to see them in person!!!

  • My husband has been begging me to let him start raising chickens, but we know very little about it and I felt that it would be a huge undertaking that we just aren’t prepared for. This book would give us the necessary info we’ve been looking for!

  • This is wonderful! I will probably buy these books whether I win them or not. But I hope I win.
    My husband and I have started our first garden ever with plans to preserve much of it. We are also interested in composting and raising chickens. Although I’m still adjusting to being a new mom, so the chickens may have to wait a bit.

  • I would loooove to own these books, they look FANTASTIC!! We started our “suburban homestead” last year. We have a stealthy chicken coop ( I am SO pumped that the chickens FINALLY started laying eggs this week!). This year we are going to plant enough veggies to feed a small army and we are going to attempt to can and preserve part of our harvest. I can’t wait to read these books! Pictures and stories are at this link: http://www.asimmeringpotandamom.blogspot.com

  • Oooh, I would love to get my hands on the chicken book – we are planning on moving to a very small farm later this summer, God willing, and want to raise chickens and goats.

  • I was just shy of twenty-one when my first child came home to a tiny house with a postage-stamped size yard. I longed so much for a garden that I yanked out peonies and yews, planted chives and rosemary, filled any kind of container I could thrift or salvage with thyme and marjoram and calendula. Before long, the only earth I had was filled with tomatoes, beans, lettuces, interspersed here and there with lilacs and nasturtiums. On summer mornings, as my daughter grew older and her brothers moseyed into our lives, we’d go to the fruit and berry farms, filling buckets with bright strawberries and juicy peaches, toting them home to preserve and devour. In that busy city, I made a farm where I could, whether it was in my tiny back yard or the vast expanse of an old man’s blueberry fields.

    But every night, my daughter and I would pray for a farm of our own, with a red barn, and a place for chickens and rabbits and dogs and lots and lots of cats.

    Ten years ago, we stumbled upon a piece of land far, far from our little house in the city. The owners were kind, worked with our financial situation, and before long, we were planting a strawberry bed on our own little farm, double digging our first deep beds, and bringing rabbits and goats and kittens home from the farmer’s auction. And not long after that, we were making fresh cheese and canning ketchup and taking our lunches in the garden with a mason jar full of ice cold goat’s milk.

    Now that little girl is a sophomore in college who works in her own garden when she comes home, and her brother is planting an herb garden in Africa and studying traditional breadmaking with a Muslim man there, and I am home with the younger girls who grew up here on the hill, swinging in the hammock, learning under the cherry tree, and sharing what we have and what we know with those who are trying to make a farm wherever they can.

    You can see pictures of our ever-growing farmstead here:

    Here’s a piece on raising turkeys:

    And applesauce making with a friend here: http://todayslessons.blogspot.com/2009/10/oh-lords-been-good-to-me-and-so-i-thank.html

    And last year’s incredible sweet corn (and basil) massacre here: http://todayslessons.blogspot.com/2009/08/shuck-dat-corn-before-you-eat.html

    I thank God for this place, for where I’ve been, and for every person, big or little, who visits our mini farm and finds out a bit more about where food comes from.

  • Much grass to pull out this Spring but I am determined to make our front yard a garden this year.
    I love those little chicken coops on wheels. Maybe Keeping Chickens would inspire my partner too.

  • I have just started digging in the backyard for raised beds for my vegetable garden this year. Also have expanded the veggies I am raising, adding squash, broccoli and pumpkins to the mix.
    I have also been talking to our local city councilors to support allowing chickens to be raised in residential areas. Keep your fingers crossed – we do have support!

  • OH MY JUICY GOODNESS! I almost fell out of my swivel office chair when I saw the start of you daily blog post…this book…about canning…what?! Now I have to do it. Yes, that is what I mean “have” to. I don’t want to, but my husband does! We’ve been joking about it for months now as we anticipate the arrival of blueberry picking season. We LOVE picking blueberries with our two young daughters for fun family time, but we also look forward to just the two of us out there in the peaceful morning LOADING up our baskets full of juicy berries! As I pick I dream of sweet blueberry pancakes, and juicy blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream…but, my husband, “jam, jam, JAM!” He wants jam. He’s a handy man, and I think loves a process, or a project. I like them too, but canning to me just seems, well, a lot of work for a little reward! Just think of how many pancakes you could have before you slathered your last bit of canned jam? Well, I’m ready, I’m willing, to let my husband prove me wrong (but, I will be keeping a couple bowls of blueberries to make a pie and pancakes with!)
    This book would be a wonderful surprise for him to let him know I’m ready to can! Thanks for sharing these fun books – and ALL your fun posts, I look forward to being inspired by your inspirations and others daily!

  • Wow, what a cool giveaway! I’m working on raising my first flock of chickens as we speak. My four little ladies are a few weeks old now and are getting ready to move into their outdoor coop, which we will be building this weekend. I adore these funny feathered creatures, and can’t wait to have fresh eggs every day.

    We’re also going to plant our first vegetable garden this year! Tomatoes, green beans, peppers, sweet potatoes, salad greens, brussels sprouts, broccoli…by the time summer rolls around, we will hopefully be getting the majority of our veggies from our own backyard. Can’t wait!!

  • Oh, my sister and I were just talking about how we’d LOVE to start raising chickens, but we didn’t know quite where to start.
    My husband and I live on 20 acres in the Midwest and would have ample room for them.
    Plus, our three-year-old daughter is just learning how life works (finding dead rabbits and deer bones leftover from the winter), so it would be an fascinating adventure for her, as well.
    And canning…so fun…I canned my first salsa last year, and my goal is to do more this year, using fruit from our Farmer’s Market and veggies from our small container gardens (we’ve had to cut down, since the deer eat EVERYTHING out here!)… xo

  • I love Ashley’s blog! Her Friday contributions here are always one of the week highlights for me :)

    In Canada, especially the northern Alberta prairie, it gets COLD in the winter. Like, really cold. -44 degrees ( -47 in fahrenheit i think according to google) were some of our winter lows this year. Back in the 1940’s when my grandma was living on her parents farm, she would can every fall all of the summer/fall harvest vegetables to make delicious jams, jellies and preserves for the winter on their home made breads and to eat with meats. Canning is one of those handed down traditions like knitting, sewing, etc. that not just women can pick up and really make a difference in their food budget and enjoy unbelievably delicious food all year round! I love canning, and I’m so glad my grandma had the patience to teach me :) My favorite is home made gooseberry jam on fresh farm wheat sprouted bread. MMMM!

    As far as chickens go – just seeing the deep tumeric coloured yokes of home raised and well fed chickens is enough to stop buying mass produced. I only buy eggs from farms near our house, but I would LOVE to have a group of my own :) My dream is to have a farm and sustain my family and my own food-living, and maybe inspire someone else to do the same.

  • I have dreams of retirement and turning my two acres into a place for goats, chickens and honey bees. Can’t come soon enough! For now, I garden in a green space at my apartment complex.

  • I don’t have much of a green thumb, but I’ve been wanting to start an herb and vegetable garden so that I can be more self-sustaining. I have a window planter that I used for flowers last year, but this year I am planning on planting a few herbs in it that I use in my everyday cooking.

  • Our dear friends gave us a chicken coop as a wedding gift! This will be our first year having chicks and we’ll pick them up in a few weeks. Many of our neighbors have small chicken flocks in their city backyards. It’s nice to make the most of a postage stamp-sized yard with a garden on one side a chickens on the other! This is a pic of where our pen is from- it’s a perfect size for urban chicken planning and they’ve more sizes. Chicken tractors are fun too! http://www.greenchickencoop.com/uploads/Br06-06.jpg

  • Every year I start saved heirloom seeds. When my seedlings come around in May I start passing them around my community: dentist office, post office, thrift store, food co-op, on & on. I want people to know how food used to taste when our grandmothers gardened. Read my growing adventures at: http://petuniagirl.blogspot.com/

  • i am working to change the zoning ordinance regarding keeping backyard chickens in my suburban philadelphia town. we have a lovely, abundant raised bed garden and grow medicinal herbs and ferment some of our veggies, but i’d love to learn how to preserve more of our harvest!

  • I just started an herb garden. So far just tiny little baby sprouts. Cant wait to eat them nom nom nom.

  • I would love to win these for my husband. He is a pro gardener and very domestic, would love to do some canning. Plus he is dying to raise chickens!

  • I have pulled out much of my ‘yard’ and replaced it with vegetable and herb beds, my lot is a certified wildlife habitate, and i blog about sustainable living, cooking, gardening, and chickens!
    A photo of me with one of our chickens when she was younger plus a few ‘headshots’ of our girls is here: http://mirandarmueller.com/illustrator/bio/
    Many photos and helpful tips about chickening and gardening, etc can be found on my blog, An Austin Homestead.
    Congrats to the new author!

  • Right now as I am reading this blog I am sniffliing away with teary as as I am allergic to the 15 little chicks in a box next to me. I have become addicted to these little creatures and already about to add two more to my brood. Then to make my allergies worse it is time to weedeat eat our garden plot and get the beds ready to plant our 200 little tomato, pepper, cucumber, eggplant, artichoke, melong – to get ready to preserve for another winter. This all in a .10 of an acre and a 756 square home with two kids!

  • I’d love to learn how to can so that I can shop more at the public market without fear of all those fresh fruits and veggies going to waste! Someday I’d love to keep chickens too, but I’ll need a house for that :-)

  • I LOVE the covers of these books. I’m starting my first veggie garden this year and any help with would be great. My in-laws are planning to purchase chickens this month and the other book will be a great companion for them!

  • We live in the country, and every morning we hear our neighbor’s rooster “doodle-dooing” (as my son calls it). We love, love, love fresh eggs, and I’ve always been intimidated by the concept of keeping our own chickens. But it sure would be amazing. We definitely have the room for it, and we’ve got the appetite for eggs. All we need is a little shove to get us started.
    Our garden is also a trove of opportunity. It’s currently sprouting weeds of all sorts of varieties. We hope to plant seeds this weekend, so we’ll have fresh yummies this summer. Great books!

  • Being that I was raised a girl shoveling manure and milking cows that farm girl in me never left. Afer finally getting my hubby to move to the country I dream of cows, chicken, pigs, and bees.

  • Hello! I live in Atlanta, GA and I am a founding member and co-chair of the the reynoldstown community garden (r-town garden: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RTownGarden/) which is a teentsy little thing with only 12 plots, but we have a 500 gallon water collection system and we are totally self sustained, and of course 100% organic!
    At home I am really into canning, and often sell my canned goods (mostly pickles and chutneys) at indie craft fairs

    I also have a back yard garden that I share with my neighbor here are some images from last year:
    radish shot:

    cuke trellis and the rest if the box shot:

    and here is a shot of my green green tomato plants and my assistant mr. biscuits:

    I am not living with chickens yet, but I just took a class at Oakhurst Community Garden about raising a flock with Walter Reeves (my hero and very knowledgeable Georgia Gardener) and hope to have some next year (I need to save a little money for a fence and coop first)

    Well, I hope this is enough to win, but it looks like I am up against some stiff competition!
    Either way thanks for writing these books! It is really important.

  • Both my boyfriend and myself are artists who love to spend time outdoors. We grew up in the country with families who grew a lot of their own food and I had goats, chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, squirrels and more to play with and take care of growing up.

    Now, we realize how our pasts and current/future skills can come together. We are making progress towards creating our vision of an artist retreat and campground. No meat animals, but we will raise chickens for eggs. I remember the yumminess of our chickens’ eggs growing up (They were Roscoe, Peco and Train…a Dukes of Hazzard reference!). We have several friends who consider themselves garden artists that I am learning from, plus we’ve been doing research about raising chickens in our “Urban Appalachia” paradise where we live right now.

    My boyfriend is an installation artists, so his spatial skills will lend themselves to creating unique spaces at the artist retreat and creative solutions in living spaces. I am a textile artist, so there will be no shortage of visual interest all around.

    It’s such a fun adventure! it’s great to read about others journeys in this direction.

  • I teach home horticulture as a volunteer to at our local food bank (yes we are participants too) and am a garden administrator for one of the two gardens which help supply fresh produce to our participants. This is not your traditional food bank but where the working poor are given a hand up not a hand out. With that said these books would serve not only our home but those serve to dovetail into my current classes as so many are becoming urban homesteaders as you put it. Many of us are working to be more self sufficient as things here get tighter and tighter. (the state I live in is the 2nd hungriest in the nation) I used to have chickens way back when I was newly married more than 30yrs ago and did a lot of canning…something we are needing to get back to. My garden philosophy…a shared garden is a blessed garden. I have gardened our urban plot for nearly 20 yrs. There is always more to learn and much to share. The books would be a blessing to be sure.

  • These book covers were what drew me in…I’m a designer and my husband is an Urban Farmer. He wants chickens, I do not. Will these books win me over? Maybe if his chickens are as clever as the book!

  • I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to receive both of those books! I consider myself to be an “urban farmer” because I’m creating a home, within the city, that’s as self-sustaining as possible. The process has steadily evolved over the past five years into what it is today. I’m a freelance writer who grows an organic orchard and vegetable and herb garden in containers on my front steps and around the property (Check this link if you’re interested in following my progress on my blog: http://thealchemistblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/my-edible-garden-2010-edition-or-why-chase-should-freeze-my-assets/) I bake all my own bread, usually from a sourdough starter I created from scratch in New York and lovingly transported to Chicago over a 17 hour drive through nine-below weather. I make many of my own cheeses, ferment my own beer, kefir, and sauerkraut, and am experimenting with home wine-making. I’m in the process of setting up a countertop sprouting operation and cupboard mushroom logs to help maximize our in-house food production. I’m getting ready to adopt angora bunnies for yarn spinning and high-quality compost…(and because they’re just so darn cute!).

    I cook and bake all the time, and local foods play a huge part in that. That’s why my gardening efforts are so important to me. This year the crop will include kale, Buttercrunch lettuce, Rainbow Baby greens, red and green leaf lettuces, chard, several kinds of beets, green beans, radishes, cucumbers, blueberries, blood oranges, strawberries, bananas, basil, corn, yellow squash, eggplant, butternut squash, pumpkins, garlic, snap peas, chives, oregano, rosemary, carrots, fingerling potatoes, bell peppers, hops, and, of course, several kinds of tomatoes (I don’t think I need to explain why I won’t be subscribing to a CSA box program this year!). What I can’t grow myself, I buy locally, from small, independent grocers, if at all possible. I only buy humanely raised, pastured animals, and dairy and eggs from happy animals–I’m reviewing various farms’ cow share programs, so that I can have a source of fresh, local raw milk. I purchase these products from the same independent grocers who source only from local farms. I’ll also be doing some volunteer work for local farms this summer, and am a registered volunteer with the local Chicago Slow Food convivium.

    I’m a knitter, a sewer, and a crafter. Aside from the rabbits, we’re not yet raising animals, though I have initiated talks with my landlady about the possibility of a chicken tractor I’ve even gone for allergy testing to determine what kinds of livestock will and won’t set off my asthma! My big picture goal is to one day be able to move to a small farm where we can raise sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, donkeys, and the like, and grow all our own produce and hay. In the meantime, I see no reason not to pursue the farm ideal, even within the confines of city-living. The farm values of health, practical good sense, non-waste, and hard work can thrive just as well in the city as they can in the country. We just have to be creative and dedicated to the dream.

    I feel truly called to return to the common roots we all share, and I firmly believe that it starts with reverence for the land and those who work it. I don’t think it’s weird that I have an accordion file bursting with photos of chickens. I didn’t hesitate to save step-by-step sheep-shearing instructions, complete with full-color illustrations and tips for keeping the flock calm. And I devour books about botany and helping to birth piglets. Clearly, I’m invested here. And I’m all about making this kind of passion accessible in any environment. The farm mentality isn’t about living on 250 remote acres, or about living in the past, or even about living in denim overalls. It’s about creating an oasis in whatever spot you happen to be standing in. It’s about being a nurturer, a well-rounded person, a responsible citizen, a curious and intelligent and crafty do-it-yourselfer who smiles at success, sees failure as a challenge, and loves every messy second.

    Hope that wasn’t too much info for you all! In any case, great job on putting the books together–I love this blog!

  • 8 years ago I was in a car accident that left me spending the rest of my life in a chair. At first returning to gardening on a large scale seemed an impossible undertaking. But each year we have added back a altered but still effective piece of our previously large gardening efforts. What we have not yet brought back is chickens. So this year as we plant our 12 4’x8′ raised gardens, numerous large pots, and salad table it would be wonderful to determine a way to bring back chickens.

  • Ironically, something we (or my husband) is interested in is raising chickens. But we live in a large city, so I’m not so sure how that would work! We also have a compost bin, rain water barrels, and recycle!

  • I’ve taken a liking to canning green beans and spicy ones at that.
    I could eat them for breakfast (and often have). I’ve blown through most of the recipies in my canning book and would love some others to try!

  • I’m excited for this giveaway!

    For the past couple years I’ve been doing a potted garden at my townhouse. I’ve grown peppers, tomatoes, and a few herbs. Now that I’ve moved out of that house and into an apartment in an older home in a better neighbourhood, I am excited to broaden my mini vegetable garden this summer! My landlord has given me full run of the front flower beds and said I could whatever I wanted!

    I am also making my way into canning. Last summer I started by making a few jars of jam and pickles. This season I’ve joined a CSA foodshare program and am looking forward to what I get en masse each week. I may have to stretch those canning muscles even further! And I’m looking forward to it.

  • my fiancee and i just moved to new orleans from the pacific northwest and the polar opposite geographic and cultural change has radically changed our growing options. growing in portland was heartbreakingly easy and berry filled but the southwest is a whole new animal.

    this summer, we’re gambling that the steamy weather will birth heavy watermelons, hearty crunchy kale and swiss chard, tomatoes that can be eaten like apples and cantaloupes to be used in ice cream recipes. our starters are already looking happy and arching towards sunlight, and our ice-cream making is hibernating in the freezer awaiting its debut.

    maybe poultry and pheasants (just for the pleasure of their aesthetics, of course) will make an arrival later in the summer?

  • We recently moved fro the city to the country and I have four acres to use and zero know how to do anything with it. I would to have a garden and chickens but I am scared! Please, I need a good how to book to get me going.

  • We definitely want to raise chickens when we move to our house. I want a large vegetable garden so we can grow all kinds of goodies-really looking forward to eggplant, lettuce, tomatoes, and butternut squash! Freezing our veggies will be exciting and will save us a bundle.

  • Every summer my husband and I have a nice sized veggie/herb garden in our back yard. Here’s a picture from last year: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=41409066&l=71fbbb82cb&id=7020801

    We had all sorts of peppers, mint, rosemary, lemon balm, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and even some corn along the side fence! The corn didn’t do too well, but it was fun to try and grow it! We also tried our hand at pickling, which I would love to do again this year.

    Sadly, I can’t get to a picture of this year’s efforts. So far we have a little herb garden next to the house but we’re hoping to expand our efforts very soon!

    Absolutely love the site! Keep up the good work! =)

  • What started as an April Fool’s joke got me thinking…

    I belong to an amazing dance/fitness studio in AZ (Express MiE) and as an April Fool’s joke they posted that they were going to start a new program called ‘chicks helping chicks’. They would supply the coop, chicks and feed, and all I was required to do was adopt a chick for $10 a month, drop by a couple of times a week to nurture, sing to, dance for or whatever I felt would encourage my chick to grow up happy & healthy. I was hooked, line and sinker included!
    Needless to say, I was disappointed when I found out it was just a practical joke, but it got me thinking. How hard could it be to raise chickens myself? I am so ready to find out and Ashley’s book would surely help this born and raised suburban girl, tremendously! In the meantime, you’ll find me ‘chicken dancing with myself’! ; )

  • My husband and I are building a house in southern New Mexico and hope to, after most of the sawdust has settled, keep a couple chickens for eggs, a topbar hive, and a big veggie garden. We are going to use waterless toilets and collect rainwater from our roof to do our small part in this parched corner of the country.

  • Dear Ashley and the gang at designsponge,

    Firstly thank you for a lovely, inspiring and encouraging blog. It is a highlight of my day to escape into your beautiful images and ideas.

    Secondly, thank you for sharing your projects and stories, in particular as they relate to slow living.

    Here is a story from me, which is about moving too quickly.

    I’ve always been interested in ‘homesteading’ type activities. Growing up in Quebec, my mother made applesauce from the apple trees in our yard, encouraged us to plant things and canned jam when it certainly was not popular. Her approach to food was all about enjoyment: of the process as well as the end result.

    As an adult, I aimed to do all the things she did, and more. I made my own tomato sauce; I planted herbs in any place I thought they might grow in my dark apartment; I baked all my own bread. I read and reread my childhood classics (little house on the prairie, the secret garden), hoping to glean something from them to help me do more.

    But there was nothing more I could do. I was working and in school full time. And yet my stubbornness made me refuse to give up on any of these projects, or to ask for help. I was doing it all, but not slowing down to enjoy it.
    Last fall, it came time make tomato sauce. My partner was not able to help. I wouldn’t wait. So I biked to the market, picked up 60lbs of tomatoes, peeled and prepared them all into sauce and set about canning them. I was proud. But I was also exhausted.
    Two weeks later, I started hearing a fizzing sound in my cabinet. The jars were expanding from a poor seal.
    The lesson I learned was that rushing provides poor results, that doing something to get it done is the opposite of fun and that making time in your life for things that are important to you is not the same as squeezing them in. I also learned that one person really cannot do it all on her own.

  • I’ve had gardens in different forms in everyplace I’ve lived. But I moved from the California valley where the growing season seems to have no end to the desert mountains of Utah where the growing season is only about 5 months. In the last four years I’ve had to relearn gardening it seems.

    I discovered last year that canning prolongs my joy for gardening. For the first time I canned fruit, tomatoes, jams, jellies and garlic! My favorites were the blackberry jam made with lemon and natural pectin from apples, hot pepper jelly and the pickled garlic. But each time I open a jar I’m enjoying last years garden and planning next years!

  • About 3 years ago we bought a house out in the ‘burbs and I immediately started a veggie garden since we had so much space (I grew up in a city but we always had a garden). It was great to have fresh veggies frequently. We were the only house around to have a garden then (the neighbors thought we were a little odd). This spring we put our house on the market (with the intention of moving to Texas soon) and the realtor told us to get rid of the garden since that’s not the type of thing most people want out there. Sad :-( I hope when we eventually get to Texas that I can start my garden again and raise some chickens and other fowl like ducks and turkeys and guinea hens. I’m looking forward to having a winter garden since it doesn’t get as cold as the Midwest down there. Maybe I’ll even get time and space for some goats and make cheese!

  • Oh these books would be a perfect lovely addition to our home library! We recently began composting and are growing seeds for our own organic vegetable garden this summer. I’ve been trying to learn about canning and preserving from my family elders, but they’re not always very clear. Lol. And, as luck would have it, we are also adding chickens (and a few goats) to our family homestead this month!! Thanks for sharing the info about these books! (And, by the way… Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! She says jumping up and down…)

  • I’m entering into a new phase of my life. Next fall both daughters will be away to college, the swing-set came down a week ago, and we are turning the playhouse into a coop. I ordered our little chicks yesterday and we’ve already named them. Florentine (Flo) after eggs florentine. Benedict (Bennie) after eggs benedict. Frittata (Frit) and Thom. Okay, I wanted to name them Olive, Helen, Phoebe and Thom but we laughed so hard at dinner last night that I’m going with the egg names.
    So, I could use all the help Ashley’s books have to offer. Maybe I’ll even bring up the boxes with the HUNDREDS of mason jars up from the basement!

  • Would love both of these books. I’m still a novice at canning, although I’ve made a pretty mean strawberry jam. We’re planning on getting a few chickens this summer so could definitely use the advice :)

  • I started composting last fall. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it (things haven’t quite broken down completely… I think it’s too dry?) and this year we’re going to move our tiny garden to a bigger and better sunlit part of the yard. I’m also hoping to do a bunch of herbs and stuff… I don’t have a particularly green thumb, so it can get discouraging. But I’m going to keep trying.

    I’ve always wanted to try canning. My hubby doesn’t eat a lot of fruit, so I don’t usually buy jams and stuff… I’d definitely eat more if I made my own, though!

  • I started a little garden outside my apartment this year: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42042116@N03/4450269569/. It is in its baby stages and someday when we have our own house I would like to add something like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42042116@N03/3947480029/in/set-72157622301235255/. I took this photo in Slovenia last fall. Slovenia is known for its honey bee houses; they used to be decorated with painted folksy scenes like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bejolino/2891137066/. I love them.

  • A small story: about a year ago, I sent my soon-to-be husband an newspaper story about urban chicken farming. He immediately loved the idea. I was skeptical. I thought it would be more prudent to spend our spare money investing in a CSA. This led to what is now known between us, our friends and our family as The Big Chicken Fight. (It’s so well known that EVERY toast at our wedding made a reference to chickens). It’s really comical in retrospect, but we both took it very seriously at the time.

    Thankfully, after many rounds of discussion, we came to a truce and a compromise: We each spent the winter saving, and this spring we have both chickens and a CSA membership. Fresh eggs, happy chickens and lots of fresh veggies and berries.

    I dream of having my own large vegetable garden, however our city lot is dominated by a sugar maple, which prevents me from growing more than a few tomatoes and beans in the small patch of sunlight that we do get. But the CSA will provide ample extras for us to preserve for this winter.


  • Hello!
    I have been thinking about trying my hand at canning for a while so would LOVE to win the books! I’ve been documenting my homesteading efforts on my posterous blog since I moved out of an apartment and into a home with a backyard! I am lucky to have the space to conduct these experiments (and a boyfriend who isn’t completely convinced, but is surprisingly tolerant of my desire to tear up the yard). My adventures and tragedies are as follows, in chronological order:

    – Move into a home with a backyard. Yes!! Proceed to feed the resident bird population as winter draws near.
    – Squirrels seen stealing food from the birdfeeder. Feel bad for them and begin to feed them separately, through the winter. Raccoons join the party. Backyard in the middle of January looks like Noah’s Ark.
    – First spring in new home! build first raised bed gardens. squirrels and birds think seeds are for them, oops.
    – Brother visits from california. obviously need to put him to work building compost bin:
    – Learn about seed spacing the hard way. garden is out of control. must fix. resulting plant carnage is everywhere.
    – Winter is coming. garlic is planted, and the garden sleeps. Indoor mushrooms are the next best thing.
    – Spring is here! so are the chickens!
    – The BF and I joke about getting a llama.
    – Proceed to research online.

    It’s been fun!

  • We’ve had chickens in our downtown Boulder backyard for two years now, and can’t imagine life without them anymore. Here’s a pic from the early days, before we moved them outside:


    Sweetheart, Daisy, Vita, and Fidget (the last one definitely lives up to her name) are swell backyard companions, and produce the most delicious eggs we’ve ever tasted.

  • how exciting!! these books look wonderful, and such a perfect read! we love to homestead. ours is small right now but we’re constantly finding ways to become more self sufficient. currently, we have 10 laying hens and grow the majority of our own food. we’re looking to add some bees and sheep for milk in the next year and are having so much fun planning for them! in addition to our veggie garden, we have 3 apples trees, a pear tree, cherry tree, blackberry and grape vines and 2 blueberry bushes, rasberry bushes and kiwi tree!! here are a few photos and i log all of my homesteading endeavors over at going home to roost:

    one of my hens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonnieforkner/3671225345/in/set-72157620723222690/

    grape vines: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonnieforkner/4278504103/in/set-72157623096836773/

    picking apples: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonnieforkner/4279250640/in/set-72157623096836773/

  • These books sound and look so lovely! I adore the matching covers.

    My mother and I have wanted a chicken coop (and maybe goat or two) for ages! She lives on agriculturally zoned land, so chickens and other critters are perfectly welcome. If we had Ashley’s guide to get us started I’m sure we could have a happy little chicken flock set up in no time. Even if we don’t win, I’ll probably pick up a copy. :)

  • Last year we lived in a small house with some yard space to grow a little garden. I had no idea what I was doing, but after reading a ton of books through the winter, come spring and summer our little garden was producing so much we had to, happily, give lots away! I really caught the gardening bug!
    Last years garden: http://unitedweslide.blogspot.com/2009/07/garden-bounty.html

    This year, however, our space has been greatly reduced to a small apartment, but when we were searching for a new place, I made sure we would be facing the south, for as much light as we could get! I gathered large buckets and some scrap wood to fashion a rather rustic garden space. Currently I have seedlings started for tomatoes, lots of greens, herbs, onions, and I plan to plant some bush beans and edible flowers when it gets warmer. I’m so excited! If I could only convince our landlord to allow chickens!
    This years inspiration: http://unitedweslide.blogspot.com/2010/02/gardening-in-city.html

    Congrats Ashley on these new books! There needed to be a well designed book written on these topics. I really enjoy and look forward to reading “Small Measures” every single week. Keep it up!

  • My latest project was a wormery I built for my friend as a birthday present. It’s a compost bin – but utilizes earthworms to speed the decomposition and results in a rich soil that’s black and soft.

    I also cater lunch to friends at my office twice a week using produce from Austin’s farmer’s markets. I will incorporate my own produce this summer when my little (sub)urban garden starts making fruit :)

    pictures of my current garden and future permaculture plans here:

  • i love love love design sponge. it’s my morning, lunch and getting home home ritual.

    my love muffin and started our first garden last year, and did really well. sadly, we left the veggies to die on the vine in fall because i’m not sure how to can anything other than raspberries, from our wild bush in the back yard, and lemons. i would love get the canning book to help me along this year with our garden.
    as for the chicken book, he just asked me last week if i want get a couple of chickens {i’m mad about blue & green eggs}. my response was, “in theory, but we have no idea how to keep chickens.”

    so both books would amazing to get. plus i’m a graphic designer, and the covers are to die for.


  • Hi there,

    These books look just wonderful! If I don’t win them, I will be buying them. ;^)

    I am very lucky to live on a glorious 2.3 acres of property on the fringes of my hometown just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. Our house was built in the 20’s (but has been renovated a million times – most recently in the 80’s) so it doesn’t look like an old house at all.

    It’s got massive potential, and I plan to raise chickens, and continue gardening like I’ve done in year’s past. I’ve made wine from our own grapes (but it turned out TERRIBLE, so I must experiment a bit…hehe…) as we have vines that are approximately 10 inches in diameter, and appear to be very old.

    In addition, I’ve discovered that our 90-year old cherry tree in the back yard (visible in the photo with the old bathtub under it) makes the most DIVINE sour cherry brandy. *wink* I’ve been putting it up for 4 years now, and give it as gifts to family & friends for Christmas usually. We have a natural abundance of wild herbs and fruit growing around our place too, so I really try to take advantage when the season provides so much free ‘material’ for artistic expression!

    I totally can’t wait to just sit down and read everyone’s entries, they all sound so interesting and cool. Looks like there’s some stiff competition from lots of creative urban farmers out there! Awesome.

    Here are a few photos of our place, and me picking blackberries for brandy, etc… There’s even a shot of me in there, using the chainsaw on a downed-tree for the very first time in my life!


    Enjoy~and thanks for the opportunity to gush about this place I love so much.


  • http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=4668&id=100000517911675

    I hope this link works – anyway, if it doesn’t, here is a description. We live smack dab in the middle of town with a very small back yard. We have two kids, so we have a trampoline and clubhouse nestled in the very back of the yard. We have a small garden where we are trying to make the most of little space by practicing square foot gardening, crop rotation, and staggered planting. Hope to yield tons so we can can. Also, we want some chickens so we can have fresh eggs. Might have to use my mom’s much bigger yard for that – she is four doors down. Would love any and all expert help we can get! Love d*s and hope to win!

  • Those books look so great! I am very intimidated by canning but would love to try it.

    Currently I make my own bread instead of buying it. I would love to get into yogurt making since I eat a LOT of it but I hate all the artificial chemical-tasting stuff in most commercial yogurts. I would also love to grow a few of my own veggies this year; I kinda have a black thumb so I am going to start small with tomatoes and peppers and such.

  • Oh, what inspiration! I couple of summers ago, a friend and I baked and cooked for our local grower’s market and had a blast using local ingredients to create our wares. Well, a new summer approaches, and though we are no longer running Good Nosh (or up at the crack of dawn to serve the die-hard foodies!), I’m still looking at ways to use local produce wisely. Penasco Plum Sauce, Dixon Apple Preserves, and Albuquerque Apricot Butter are all in my sights for this year. And if I could tuck away a couple of hens for fresh eggs, oh…now that would be heaven!

  • My name is Ashley, I was an English major, and I currently work as a Sustainability Coordinator for the University of Florida. Clearly, Ashley English and I should be best friends!

    On a more related note, my boyfriend and I had two chickens when we were in undergrad, and I cannot emphasize enough how much he especially grew to love them. When we graduated frm undergrad, we gave the chickens to a professor who raised, and since then, not a day goes by or a conversation takes place that doesn’t revert to those chickens!

    Currently, he and I have been collecting old wooden pallets and other materials thrown out from home construction in our neighborhood. it’s perfect way to divert the waste, save money and build an awesome coop. He has diligently stripped them of nails to ready them for construction (so much so a schrapnel incident landed him in the ER!), and we can’t wait to have a new home ready for some new chickens. I really think living with the land and being resouce conscious and self sufficient is a lost art that younger generations discard as primitive. I think it’s beautiful and empowering, and I’m excited to see the growing support behind the movement of sustainability – all facets and all levels.

    I know he would love to have a guide on hand as we venture down another chicken raising path, and canning/preserving are certainly next on my list along with learning sewing and knitting! Not to mention the communications/outreach marketer in me loves the playful design. I’d proudly use these as a daily resource and as coffee table decor!


  • Both these books look great! This is year one in my first house of my own so *many* things are taking place in the garden. I recently acquired two blueberry bushes and one lingonberry.

    It being still a bit cold/wet here in Portland OR I am mostly cultivating patience.

    This is also my first garden year since I was age ten so being able to put up what I grow will be important this year more than in the past. I want to pickle cherries, and put up some peaches (we get some incredible peaches called Mary Hill here) because I crave them around November.

    We’re also looking to clear some bushy yard space for a coop so we can bring in a couple Buff Orpingtons (the chicken the same color as my cat) but I know very little about how best to otherwise care for them besides space considerations and I’d love to be better informed before jumping head first into the peeping world of chicks.

    If I sent a picture right now it would mostly be of a nice dirt bed I’m waiting to plant in that is mostly a bit rain clogged at the moment. Not terribly exciting so I hope description will suffice!

  • I would love to learn how to can tomatoes. We are going to start planting them in the backyard this spring with a technique we saw at Epcot. If we do it right, we will be producing a lot of tomatoes and won’t know what to do with them all.

    Also, I would love to read this book to find out how to raise chickens in an urban setting. I have heard that it can cause bad pest infestation. It would be nice to read her book to see if she has any advice on how to deal with this issue.

  • oh my gosh I love canning!!! in fact i am making 150 tiny jars of jam and marmalade for wedding favours – my favourite so far is kiwi-lime marmalade. i’d be thrilled and honoured to use some of your recipes to create new canned goodness …. and pass that delicious love on to others

  • This is great! I have been thinking about for quite awhile about getting some chickens and building a chicken coop! I’ve seen really neat coops out there and I keep thinking that that is very do-able! I love to bake and cook and having the access to fresh, free range organic eggs makes me get so excited! I would be so happy to get these books!

  • I’m in college but my family just got chicken, so I think ‘Keeping Chickens’ would be a wonderful book for them . They are in process of building a coop. My 10 year old sister is especially excited about this – it was her idea. We are, or they are already growing tomamoes, lettuce, and spinach. So, this book would be really wonderful.

  • Well, I’m sure it’s all been said… but my husband and I just solidified our 5 year plan. He’s expanding his skills as a winemaker and I love cooking… especially new flavor combinations with seasonal produce. I’ve always been a pickle girl. Ask my friends… I’ve even been given pickles as a gift and they’re never quite as good as homemade. I started the venture with Kimchee and sweet pickles and my latest and greatest is pickled fiddlehead ferns. Since my technique is haphazard, I’d love a good book with tips and tricks and this seems like just the thing for me.

    Our goal is to have a sustainable garden… with chickens and veggies and make wine… with the occasional wine dinner to highlight the wines. I’d love both books to help guide our plans and move me closer to the “perfect pickle” recipe!!

    Thanks d*s!

  • My husband and my vegan blog started off as just a vegan blog…but I have every intention to include my new journey into canning and preserving into it. So far, I have a pickled mushroom recipe up there, and I have all my hopes to add my grandfather’s Ukrainian Pickles recipe and some lovely jellys and sauces as well.

    I’ve just started on this path. It’s so exciting to think of making my own canned goods that my family (and anyone who reads my blog) can enjoy for months to come. The canning book would be instrumental in this! :)

  • I would LOVE to win these books! I inherited my grandmothers canning supplies and would love to put them to use for my garden bounty this year.

    I think I have finally convinced my hubby that it is lawful for use to have backyard chickens in our suburban home. Only thing I saw in the ordinance about animals is that they cannot roam outside your yard or make noise, so unfortunatly no roosters. This would be a great book to help us get started!


  • I have been researching composting for almost a year now and am ready to make the leap. I’m going to a class toward the end of the month and while I want to start small, I think every little bit helps. Chickens would be a dream to keep, and I’d love to learn more about canning. So thanks!

  • I’m actually entering for my sister-in-law. She and my brother-in-law live in a very suburban area where the houses are all alike and very close together, but she has a dream of moving to the “country” as we call it here in Kansas.

    When her brother got cancer, she decided to cut out most processed foods and artificial sweeneters and flavor enhancers. With the help of her landscape architect husband, she has a burgeoning garden in her little yard where she grows all kinds of lettuce, herbs, vegetables, and berries. She is a stay-at-home mom and is definitely someone who is always expanding her recipe collection as well as finding new ways to save money on food.

    I know she would love more space to plant even more and she wants to keep chickens, too! Until then, I think both of these books would be perfect for her – especially with the summer coming up. She is always doing such nice things for others, it would be nice to win these wonderful books for her!

  • Oh, how I would love to have these books! We had good success with tomatoes in our amateur garden last year, but then stalled out with other obligations before we could expand. We’re going to give it another try this year.

    We’ve been trying to figure out a way to get a flock started for two years now, but it’s a daunting project and a little intimidating. What kind of coop? What kind of fencing? So many questions that keep us from just diving in.

  • The Keeping Chickens book would probably help tremendously, since I’ve been meaning to get chickens, but keep hesitating because I want to be sure it will be a good experience for all of us! And it sounds like the Canning Preserving book would certainly take me beyond the Ball blue book! What’s next in the series?

  • I’m starting my garden for the second year in a row. I loved all the fresh food I harvested from it last year but it was much more than I expected! I would love the canning book to learn what to do with the extra. I love the idea of eating from my garden year round. Congratulations to Ashley on her books!!

  • My mom and her brother (my uncle) recently established a chicken coop. However, my uncle is hogging the eggs – stinker. I would love to buy my mom her own coop so she can have her own chickens and eggs. We have even started saving images, including some from design sponge! I know she would have a pretty cool coop, full of funny looking chickens and enjoy all different sizes and colors of the eggs. The Keeping Chickens book would help in her chicken rearing efforts.

    This is all going down in Naples, Florida, which is known more for its snowbirds than chickens.

  • I would love to have the opportunity to learn from Ashley about keeping chickens and preserving food!

    We decided to get chickens and begin growing some of our own food when we bought our first house this fall. Here’s a picture of me working on the coop design: http://www.flickr.com/photos/allynefamily/4442467795/in/set-72157623520452545/ We’re not done building yet, because the chicks are still only this big: http://www.flickr.com/photos/allynefamily/4491345059/in/set-72157623520452545/

    I’m very much looking forward to starting our veggie garden, too, the raised beds are getting built this weekend! I’m a little bit intimidated by 80 square feet of planting, but I know it’ll be worth it when the crop comes in.

    Cheers, Alex

  • Hello! I just had a baby at the end of last year (11/20/09) and I want to create a backyard garden where baby Olivia can eat freshly picked cherry tomatoes and peas and have a beautiful area to hang out. It would be lovely to puree organic baby food and make fresh juices from plants I’ve grown and right now we are in the very beginning stages of making that happen. Olivia’s dad has converted an elevator parts wood box into a tomato planter. We are also planning on building a much larger square raised planter bed and want to grow squash, peas, peppers, eggplants, and herbs.

    We are very motivated by our new addition to the family. We wanted to turn our ugly cement backyard into a lush garden years ago, but we had a rottweiler who just loved to eat and pee everywhere. We wanted him to be happy and just roam and be so we deferred our grand plans. When he passed last year, at the ripe age of 15 , we knew it was time to get serious. As such we are growing our own worn bin to harvest worm castings. In our pic, you can see the raised structures for drainage for our planter boxes and also our green composting bin. We have a large cement back yard with a dirt border of about 2 feet. We would love to add a chicken coup and have that enrich our backyard experience. I think everything would be so educational in every way not only for our baby, but for her parents. Having our own eggs to bake and cook with would be a cherry on top. How very Martha! I love it!!! Please choose us. We would love and very appreciate the direction. Thank you.




  • This post has me sooo excited! I’ve always loved to grow edibles in containers since I was living in apartments, but my husband and I just bought our first little house and have been slowly converting the backyard into a mini farm with raised beds, a raspberry trellis, fruit trees and everything else we can squeeze in. I canned my first strawberry jam last year and it turned out incredible and I can’t wait to get canning and jamming this year. I’d love the canning & preserving book. pick me! pick me!

  • It is so inspiring to hear about all of the incredible efforts your readers are making to live more self-sufficient, sustainable lives!

    I have recently committed to both of these goals and to document and inspire my progress I have started a blog called The Freedom Project. I recently wrote a post about Reskilling that I think offers a pretty good argument why I would really benefit from the Canning and Preserving book – this has been one of my goals for a late summer/fall project and something I would most certainly document on the blog. I WILL have chickens (and goats) as soon as I have space. Both books would be amazing to have in my slowly growing sustainability and permaculture library.

    The link to my site is above, but here is a link to the Reskilling post, with photos: http://freedomprojected.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/reskilling-a-generation/#more-237

    Thank you so much!

    @the_moggest on Twitter

  • Growing up in an underground home on a hill in Northern Wisconsin instilled in me sustainable values. With nothing better to do I taught myself to knit, weave branches into garden structures, spin yarn, care for pets… My love of creating took me away to the lovely NYC where I attended design school, only to return to WI for love. We were married in December, bought a little ranch… now the values and skills I learned growing up (with the addition of my design degree) are being challenged…either of these books would refresh me, lend ideas and help me create my dream. I’m in the process of getting my husband on board with my dream of raising my own chickens.
    Some of my life can be found at http://www.laurenannpaul.blogspot.com/

  • We renovated an old one-room schoolhouse on 4 acres that was being used as a barn. Since moving in January 2009, we have put in a large garden and are raising chickens. I haven’t taken on canning yet, but hope to with this summer’s bounty. Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/buffalo_barn/

  • I’m a fledgling canner! I tried tomatoes-huge success but very labor intensive. I’ve focused lately on pickles but I’m very eager to learn new, delicious canning recipes! On the chicken front-I wish I could have some since I have a yard but it’s shared with my neighbors in my rental apt building. I’ll have to make do with just raising herbs in the yard. here’s some pickles I made: http://twitpic.com/1e3fxw Thanks for considering me as a possible winner in this great contest.

  • These books look so cool! I have made jam for christmas presents the past two years (meyer lemon and lavender marmalade, and cherry jam)–all fruit was from our friend’s and parent’s trees. It was the first time I had ever tried canning.

    I live in a rental and had a garden for the first time last year; I will again this year (just now planting). Here’s a link to photos of last year’s: http://sv-timemachine.net/2009/08/gardens-en-route-to-the-grocery-store/ (the last photos are of my own garden). I’m just learning how to do all this by trial and error so hopefully this year’s garden will be better!

  • I am loving this return to living simple and wholesome, it seems everyday people become more aware of how living a good life is not about designer clothes and expensive cars. Personaly I get so much joy when I can give a gift of something I made and put effort into like my jams or fresh vegi’s.

    I am lucky enough to live in a inner city home which is surrounded on two sides by park and even though the cancer ward of the hospital towers us to the other side I dont even notice when the trees are in full bloom. The patients have their outdoor area looking over us and comment all summer long on the progress of my yard, taking interest as if it was their own. That is one reason I am eager to build my coup,as I will not be the only one getting joy from it. Actually in my city urban chickens are a big topic with guerilla warfare taking place as people fight to raise chickens in their yard. It seems the fighting has been paying off as more people become aware how how to do this properly and provide natural eggs for their family. All in all I love the movement and thank you Ashley for writing such a beautiful book.

  • My husband and I are living in the UK for a year with the Larchfield Community. Larchfield is a small farming community in the North East which includes people with learning disabilities. We’ve only been here 2 months but we love it! Everyone works together to produce amazing, organic food. Kyle is in the garden and in the food processing workshop, while I work in the weavery and the coffee bar which we open for the public. I have to admit though, that the chickens which roam the farm are fantastically ugly, red-bottomed things. As a community these books would be a fantastic asset.

  • i would love to have these two books! i grew up with 6 hens running around our house. we would go out every day and try to find where the eggs were (because we had a giant patch/mountain of rock and they would be hidden in all the nooks and crannies) and always dreamed of having some of my own and for future children to do the same!

    i’ve always wanted to get into caninng too – my grandmother used to do tons of canning when my mom was young but has since stopped and this would be there perfect book to share with her!

  • I’ve heard she has a book about bees coming out too! Canning I could put to good use now and chickens hopefully someday.

    I think that if we got the chicken book then it might kick off getting the chickens sooner.

    Our new thing is growing sprouts indoors. We’ve been tearing through lentil sprouts at the moment. We’ve put them in nearly every meal and they are so easy to grow and so fun for the kids to watch.

    Other than that – we are expanding our garden this year and hoping to find a new home for our 40+ strawberry plants. More sunflowers too. (Last year’s sunflower post- http://six-twentyone.blogspot.com/2009/08/summer-suns.html)

    Also we are participating in the Great Sunflower Project to help with the bee colony colapse situation – more here http://six-twentyone.blogspot.com/2009/09/b-team.html

    Thank you for the give away!

  • The cover design alone is enough to make me want these books! The content sounds pretty darn good, too. I’ve always wanted to raise my own chickens, and someday I will! Bees, too. Right now my main goal is to make our brand new house a home. We have been lucky enough to buy a near new colonial in the woods of NH. We love the spot and the house is bright and spacious but, it is a colonial, so it looks a lot like a box to me! My biggest challenge is going to be balancing all of my design interests in order to soften up the blunt corners, indoors and and out. I have seedlings on my kitchen windowsill waiting for transplant into a new garden bed. We have a new dog and and old cat who are just getting acquainted. I have two stepsons who have happily decorated their own rooms with Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins themes. I have the big kitchen I’ve been wanting for years. Now I just need a little focus and some time! I daydream of my garden in bloom this summer, cooking with fresh herbs and veggies, cutting flowers for display indoors in jars (I could easily become a hoarder of glass jars). My one MUST for this year’s garden is pickling cucumbers. I have recently come to love pickles when I always thought I hated them before! I now have some serious ideas about what a pickle SHOULD be and I’d love to make my own. I think homemade pickles are a great first step towards making a house a home :)

  • We’re closing on our first home in less than two weeks, and I definately have homesteading on the brain! We won’t have a lot of space for gardening but one thing I’ve always wanted do is plant rosemary bushes in place of more expected shrubbery, I also joined a local farm co-op so I will have lots of produce to put up this summer. A canning party sounds like a fantastic idea! As for Chickens; I’ve started making a case for them, but so far my husband isn’t convinced. It may take a few years, but I will prevail, (I usually do). I’m sure a cool book like that would speed up his acceptance.

    Congratulations on your new books Ashley! They look great!

  • Ashley is such an inspiring woman! We are renting our first house and are so excited to be able to have our own garden and chickens, although the community garden plot was a blast last year. Right now I am growing seedlings, raising baby chicks, keeping up all of the homesteading tasks that I love so much (making bread, kombucha, kimchi, cultured butter, etc.) along with a part time job at the food co-op and herbal medicine apprenticeship. Things are a bit crazy. My goal for this summer is to start working from home and grow/forage at least 70% of our food. As a first time urban chicken owner, any help from the master herself will be welcomed with open arms!



  • Last September I organized a first time canning party for a group of girls I had just met. One girl brought her Mom’s old canning supplies that had been gathering dust in her basement. I checked out a couple of books from the library and we all brought some amazing produce from our local farmer’s market (Madison, WI). We put up some really great jellies, chutneys, pickled beans and more. Since then our group has met once a month for a different craft. We’ve had quite a range of activities each month and it’s always a great excuse to get together with the girls. I’m looking forward to hosting a second annual canning party this August and I would love to have Ashley’s book as a guide. Thanks Design Sponge for such amazing daily inspiration!

  • Born and raised in big cities in California, chickens, canning and having your own vegetable garden weren’t very common growing up. After graduating college and moving to my boyfriends native Louisiana, I was awakened by a bit of culture shock. Large plots of land, chickens, and tending to the farm on the weekends were everyday life. It didn’t take too long to fall in love with picking up eggs every morning for breakfast and saving my food scraps to feed those chickens. Now, 2 years later, I just bought my own home here in Louisiana. First project: chicken coop and vegetable garden. I can’t wait to make my backyard into an edible landscape and know exactly where my veggies and eggs are coming from! Having these books would be a wonderful addition to my library and help me jumpstart the garden!

    Check out the progress of the new home here:

  • Wow….524 entires so far! This seems like a super long shot but I’ll test my luck:-) These books sounds super cool….just moved into my first ever house with a 1/2 acre backyard just itching for veggies and chicks! Would love a little insight with some new books on both such topics! Thanks for the chance to win and your super cool blog.

  • I’ve been gardening for four years and will be expanding this year, so I want to be able to preserve the home-grown taste as much as possible.

  • http://tinyurl.com/ylxtglv
    Oh, what a great giveaway! I attached a link to my list of, “30 things to do before I turn 31.” I turned 30 on February 26th. March 2010 my quest began. Note lines: 10, 15, 22, & 24.

    Also, we have a huge garden (60’x20′). That’s more than enough space for us, so we invited a friend to plant her vegetables in our garden and we also plan on planting a row for the hungry. You can read about it here:

    Ashley, keep spreading the good news!

  • Dear Design Sponge – I just saw this contest and HAVE to have BOTH books for gifts to my Maid of Honor and little sister who is a gardening extraordinaire and has canned many a projects. She would just love this. My mom keeps a brood of hens at the house we grew up in. She calls them “her girls” and sits and does crosswords while she hangs out with them in the afternoon. They lay the most beauitful (and yummy) blue and brown eggs.

    I don’t have a picture of either project as I have not been up to the house in a couple weeks, but thought I would share my story anyway. These books are perfect for my mom and sister! I am always looking for original gift ideas that really speak to the recipient. Thanks for spreading the word and letting me know they are out there.

  • I would love these books, particularly the one on canning and preserving, because it would be so helpful for my new way of life.
    After discovering that 10 years of chronic stomach pain was celiac disease with multiple food allergies (gluten, dairy, etc). , I now cook all of my food at home using fresh ingredients. I actually just signed up for a class on preserving fruit so that I can take advantage of that this summer and have tasty fruit to eat all winter that is not full of sugars and syrups that I cannot tolerate.
    Plus, being able to give homemade jam as Christmas gifts would be awesome. :)

  • I am SO excited for Ashley’s new books! I’m moving from the Pittsburgh area to a small house near my parents farm in southern Indiana, and I am stoked about getting back to my handmade country roots. I’ll be pretty much starting from nothing, so my first priorities are a garden, compost heap, and a clothesline. But in the future, I have dreams of a yard full of chickens, goats, rabbits, and who knows what else!

  • I am converting our 50×100′ lot in Portland, OR into an urban homestead. Getting ready to launch the website soon to show our progress. Address will be: http://www.tendtothrive.com (nothing there now since I need someone with web skills to help me out). We have built 10 raised beds totaling 300 SF, I will be planting 14 fruit trees to espelier on our front yard, and there will be many other additions to the yard as we get settled in. It is my goal to provide all the food I can from our lot for the year and what ever we can’t grow/make we will buy from a local source. Here are some pictures of the garden so far:
    Your books would come in very handy and are extremely relevant to what we are doing right now! Thanks!

  • I’m going to be moving to a small town in Southern Illinois. I’m thinking of keeping a few chickens because I will have enough of a yard (I think?) I LOVE farm fresh eggs! They taste sooo much better! I also think it would be really cool to keep an angora goat or a sheep because I crochet, and I want to learn to spin my own yarn. My mother-in-law is going to teach me how to do some canning this summer. I’m glad because I can cut down on sugar and preservatives, which will be great! I’m also gonna grow a potted tea garden with different kinds of mint, chamomile, and green tea. (I’m embarrassed to admit how much tea I drink, lol) I’ve lived in apartments my whole life, and I’m so excited to finally have some land. I want to use it! These books look awesome, and inspiring. (Also the cover art is beautiful :)

  • So our attempts at homesteading started almost two years ago with the purchase of 40 acres of field, the start of dreams gallore. last spring we planted 1200 seedlings and this summerwe plan to build a garage for our family of 6 to live in. the eventual plan is to raise our own food, recycle our grey water for gardening and spend a great deal of time outdoors with our kids and animals!

  • I started building a chicken coop in my backyard last Fall and I’m just finishing it now. (I live in Minnesota so I didn’t work on it during the Winter). In a few weeks we’ll get our baby chicks! Most of the coop was made from repurposed wood (an old torn down shed from up north and the small coop door from an old laundry shoot in our house). One end of the coop is for storage( yard tools and chicken feed). Photos of the coop: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=64222&id=1215799211
    I’d love both books but especially the one about raising chickens!

  • I always have a small backyard garden, but this year I’m adding a chicken coop and getting 4 little chicks. I’m actually picking up the coop building supplies this afternoon and getting to work on it. Would especially love to read the chicken keeping book!

  • hi, what lovely books!
    we have a worm compost.. our worms are well loved with lots of yummy food!
    i also spin wool from local sheep..
    also, i have started a homeschool with 6 other families in our small town of lyons, co.
    these are a few things (along with our veggie gardens that haven’t sprouted yet..) that keep me rooted and alive!

  • My husband and removed all the sod from our side yard to create one huge garden! Im looking forward to an abundance of produce for canning or freezing. We also have talked on and off about getting chickens, but havent taken the plunge. If we win this I will take it as a sign to go ahead and get some! :)

  • My small yard suffers from a common urban problem–high lead in the soils!! So I limit most home garden produce to flowers and buy vegetables at the wonderful farmers markets in New Haven. Occasionally I will also venture out to the U-Pick places. In the summer my god-daughter visits and we pick berries and make saft–a berry concentrate–that we both enjoy drinking the rest of the year. The photo is the remaining supply from last summer.

  • I became interested in homesteading activities a few years ago. My boyfriend and were living in a small apartment where our only “yard” was a concrete stoop and a few steps by our back door. I soon filled our little stoop with a multitude of pots and trays and called it my “sun porch.” (You’ll appreciate the irony of that as I note that we live in rainy Portland, OR).

    The next year we expanded to a 20 x 20 ft community garden plot- seemingly massive after my tiny stoop garden! In that plot, we learned the exquisite pleasures of lavender kohlrabi, emerald tah tsai, and golden beets.

    This fall we bought our first home- a tiny cottage in North Portland, and have been working to turn it into our own urban homestead since then. My favorite house-warming gift came from my sister in Maine. She looked up our local nursery and ordered us a pound of worms to start our own worm-bin!

    We’re now hoping to transform our inherited doghouse into a chicken coop by the end of the month, and are doing all the research we can to make that a reality. We have a modest little life, but a handful of home-grown vegetables never fails to make me feel rich.


  • I experimented with some quick pickling of leftover vegetables last week and want this book to take it to next level with leftover vegetables from the garden!!

    My 17′ x 10′ Brooklyn tar-paper-covered-roof garden is gonna grow this summer. Check out my OCD garden plan, my seedlings, and my Martha Stewart-inspired attempts at making hypertufa (lightweight concrete) pots here: http://alleytree.com/content/oh-my-stars-and-gardens

  • I grew up in the Mid-West spending my summers helping my mother bake bread, picking fresh vegetables and fruit from our friend’s garden, and canning everything. I’ve been living away from home for the past 8 years and every spring and summer I find myself going back to my roots, planting urban gardens, driving to local farms, making my own jam and canning as much as I can get away with in a small apartment. Canning not only reconnects me to the food I eat but also connects me to my family. I would LOVE Ashley’s canning and preserving cookbook to learn more canning techniques, try her recipes, and share it with my friends.

    Congrats, Ashley!

    Please check out inspiration here:

  • i am about to get my teaching certificate and cannot wait to have my own classroom. i want to teach kids about everything–including canning and keeping chickens. these experiences go a long way and your books would be a lovely start.

  • Oh wow! These are lovely books! What a wonderful give-away!

    My husband is graciously allowing me to turn a portion of our “back 40” into a sort of farm-let. I have 8 chickens, – 4 of them just turned 6 weeks, 4 are one week, and we are in process of turning the kid’s old playhouse into a coop! I have pictures here on our blog: http://www.daveandlisasbackyard.blogspot.com of the coop project and the backyard garden progress. We are in love with “the Ladies” and can’t wait to get them in a proper coop, they are mightily sick of their cardboard boxes. I also treated myself to the Ball Blue Book of Canning last year and “put up” a ton of home-grown tomatoes and plum jam, a pressure canner is on my birthday list! This stretch of unseasonably warm weather has me itching to mow and turn under the winter rye and get my tomato seedlings out into the gardens!

  • Part of my 4-year-old’s education takes place in the garden. Eating local is important to us, but it was especially important to me that he know what real food looks like. I never saw a bright green string bean until I was a teenager, having been subjected to the salty, slimy, olive-green specimens from a can. Now that he’s old enough, he helps me grow our food on a tiny strip of sunny soil. Last year, we ate peas off the vine and pulled carrots out of the soil together. In January, we gorged on spaghetti with home-canned tomatoes and basil. Last year we also pickled carrots and are looking forward to pickling new vegetables this summer! Would love some new ideas. Here’s a photo from last year: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimmyrose/4504067984/

  • Beginning a garden this summer is something I have wanted to do for years, but it is about a lot more than growing food for our family. It’s about making a fresh start, healing and growing, it’s about new life, hope and possibilities after a lot of hurt and dead ends. I haven’t even wanted to think about this hope let alone talk about it or sketch out a plan. Thank you for inspiring and motivating me to put my dream down on paper and post it on my blog… and thanks for writing such helpful books and sponsoring a lovely giveaway! Please read the details and sketches of my plan here –


    oh and for any moms wanting to teach their kids about gardening I posted a Coloring Page I made for my kids that you can download!

  • just moved and cannot grow much this year. will try to get both books, especially the one on chickens and how to make then happy. thanks a lot!

  • oh these would be perfect for my new sister in law. we are spoiled spoiled kids & only eat “canned” stuff from our farm not the grocery store. I’ve never even tasted smuckers. so this would be a good intro into teaching her!
    the chicken book is for me!

  • I am getting married and moving out! We will be living on 6 acres and I can’t wait to have chickens…2. Also start my own veggie-garden and have those late night french-country inspired dinners outside while the sun sets and the fire gets started!!! I’m so excited and I would LOVE one of these books to help me on my way :)

  • My husband and I do a small garden every year, but I have always been too intimidated to can. We really want to start keeping chickens, too! The hubby has been researching different coops so he can build one for our yard. I might pick these up even if I don’t win!

  • once we buy a house, we’d like to set up a garden with raised planter beds where we can have a summer & winter garden since we live in phoenix. i want to can & preserve the surplus for the off-season. we’d also like to have a chicken coop, but have to wait until we own our property to get it going.

  • I live in an apartment with no patio, rooftop or yard at the moment but I dream of having a yard with a garden and chickens. My boyfriend and I talk about what we plant and what we would name our little chicks. I can’t wait to live somewhere with a yard!

  • I was just diagnosed with an allergy to soy, peanuts, wheat, walnuts and corn. This has severely limited my diet and I would love to learn new ways to make and can my own food as well as “grow” it naturally as store-bought processed foods are no longer an option. Thank you.

  • Wow, everyone’s comments and photos and blogs are so inspiring!
    We live in a tiny apartment in Vancouver, but we’re lucky enough to have two fantastic (if small) decks. We pack every indoor and outdoor inch of space with plants, and while it’s not enough to live off of, it’s great for now, until I have an actual yard!

    I’ve been collecting mason jars with the intent of pickling and canning, but I’ve been too intimidated to start…


  • I want a farm. I want to grow, eat and preserve like my mom did – to
    see pantry shelves filled with the colors and flavors of the summer’s
    harvest. I want to feel the warmth of a just-laid egg in the palm of my
    hand and see a shaggy herd of Scottish Highland cattle out my kitchen
    window. Until that day, I’ll content myself with my herb garden,
    containers filled with tomatoes, and a hand-turned composter. This
    summer I’ll convert my side yard that’s been consumed with Creeping
    Charlie to raised beds of vegetables and supplement from the local
    farmers’ markets. I’ll restock the shelves with jams, pickled beets,
    and tomatoes – green relish, juice and soup. And I’ll keep scouring the
    countryside for the farm of my dreams – the clock is ticking…

    (photo above is part of our crop from last year)


  • This spring I planted my first garden by myself… I might have been a little overambitious for my little 6′ square space, but hey, I was excited!
    I’ve never canned anything before; I tend to recycle mason jars by repurposing them to hold broken glass for my mosaics. But I’d be willing to try if my garden really produces! And I’ve always wanted chickens.

    Here is my garden:

  • My own homestead efforts are currently confined to my tiny balcony, where I attempt, so far in vain, to grow my own herbs and vegetables in my half wine barrels. Unfortunately my kitten has decided that she’s claiming the barrels as her own deluxe ensuite, so only a hardy little tomato vine and a blueberry bush have survived so far!

  • I have always wanted to compost with worms and newspaper. I am trying to work up the nerve. I live in a small apt. so I don’t have any place to have a big compost pile.

    Currently, I’m trying to convince my complex to start one for the residents.

  • I’m on my 3rd season gardening and thus far, I haven’t yielded enough to really warrant canning. I think this is the year! I just planted a bunch of daikon and I’m crossing my fingers it likes 100+ degrees.

    As for chickens, I have visions of this coop: http://crackinggood.com/2009/10/27/crying-fowl/
    in my backyard….once my husband warms to the idea. Maybe some extra info will tip the scales?

  • These books look beautiful!

    As a college student, I don’t have much space to to grow my own vegetables, but I love to farm and can’t wait to have my own garden when I graduate in a month. I’ve been lucky enough to share my interest in food with my family too. In the past few years, they’ve picked up composting and canning, and have started gardens at home at the school where my mom teaches. I’d be thrilled to share these books with my family. Here are a few favorite shots from my own farming experiences (and a few of my family’s too!):

  • During the Great Depression, my Grandmother wrote a letter to the Dept of Agriculture asking for canning instructions. They sent them! So off she went, canning raspberry jam and other necessities from produce grown in her Brooklyn garden. Her raspberry bushes have since been transplanted to my little yard (also in Brooklyn), but the info is gone. Your books look wonderful!

  • I have to say I’ve had an obsession with birds pretty much my whole life…so 5 years ago, when we moved to the “burbs” from the city I promised my husband I’d do my part to bring as much wild life to our area as possible! Since we moved we have ripped out concrete galore and used the area to plant native drought tolerant plants..now every morning my one year and I watch the bees, hummingbirds and finches take advantage of the goodness. In june we are moving to the coast and all ready have in the works a big and beautiful organic garden..so we can teach our son where real food comes from! (It’s in his blood…his Daddy is the executive chef of a small resort using their own produce from their garden..it’s amazing! ) I’d LOVE to learn about canning all those wonderful foods we grow..and watching Sam run around and feed chickens!

  • last year, we built four container gardens in our small yard, and last weekend, we finally planted them! i would love to see these grow year by year and provide more and more food for our table. chickens would be nice, but are not allowed without special permit. plus i don’t believe our two dogs would appreciate it much.

  • My husband is an avid gardner, and I an avid cook/baker/recipe creator and budding canner. Brian (my husband) has been talking seriously about having our own chickens, and I always say he’s welcome if he wants to be their “mommy” – the truth is I don’t know what goes into it, so both of these books would go to good use. You can check out our gardening story and first produce on my blog via the following link:


  • Ashley, congratulations on the publication of your two beautiful books. I am excited to share a little of my homesteading dream – and could use a lot of instruction from sources like you!


    This project is the combined efforts of some friends with a little slice of land and some big plans. Individually we have kept small or planter based gardens in the past, but this Spring we have started up together with a full-sized, full-producing plot! We have been inspired by authors like Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, and Barbara Kingsolver, as well as the rural community we live in. So really, we’re standing only a few paces into the journey of gardening, beekeeping, and generally understanding (and even being a part of) the production of the food we cook and enjoy – while living in community and having fun while we’re at it!

  • I am dying to try out recipes for pickling peppers and cucumbers! Once a year my boyfriend’s parents always get the most delicious pickles from some old lady and I find myself craving them throughout the year to no avail! Wishing I could make pickles similar to those on my own. I live right next to a beautiful and extensive farmer’s market and am dying to make a wonderful concoction from all those vegetables.

  • Living in suburban Miami I still make jams and chutneys – key lime marmalade, strawberry and banana jam, mango chutney -all from my 1/4 acre builder’s lot.

  • I’ve just gotten my first yard, and we can’t wait to get a veggie garden in. But, our dream is to get a small flock (3-4) chickens in our suburban back yard, so I’d LOVE to get these books!!

  • I am a huge fan of Ashley’s blog and found her via Design Sponge. I am inspired by her drive to chase her dreams. We just started raising chickens in our small backyard, Ashley blog has been a huge resource.

    You can read more about our chick adventures here: http://midtownchicks.blogspot.com/

    Ashley’s book would be a great guide as the chicks transition from their brooder to the coop. I have been wanting to buy her books for weeks. I haven tried my hand at canning, but really want to give it a shot.

    Great contest!

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