Here are some awesome free charts to help you decide what to plant : plantigram
Want to make a garden but have limited space? Square foot gardening can help you achieve much bigger yields from a small space by breaking your space into 1’x1′ grids so plants have closer spacing than typical.
If you want to know more, there are tons of books on square foot gardening,this is a great one to start with because it outlines everything, in a gardening for dummies sort of way.
This book is exclusively organic and a bit cheaper too :)
Have you ever picked a deep red tomato? When you pluck it off the vine it is firm and soft at the same time. As you bite into it, it's sweet, fresh and delicious!
1) The produce tastes better This is just one benefit of growing your own food. It taste like nectar from the gods. Foods that are picked when they're ripe have more intense flavour and more nutrients than those that are picked early for shipment to your grocery store. You will also tend to eat more fruits and vegetables because they are available to you.
2) Gardening can be great exercise. You will get healthier in a number of ways. Not only will you end up eating more fruits and vegetables, but you will be getting added exercise. Did you know that you can burn as many calories in 45 minutes of gardening as you can in 30 minutes of aerobics? And, working in the garden reduces stress.
3) Gardening can make you happier. Spending time outside in nature and gardening can help you maintain a sense of well-being. Gardening also can be a stress reliever and a calming activity.
4) It saves you money. Your grocery bill will decrease for herbs, vegetables, fruits, bean and legumes or grains, depending on what you grow. It is a great way to save in the spring, summer and fall, depending on what season you are growing in. If you are living in a warm climate, you can have crops all year round.
5) You always have gifts to share. Not only will you have healthy food at your fingertips you will also have extra to share with your friends and family. If you are entrepreneurial, you might also be able to sell your extra to get a little extra cash, depending on the selling laws in your local government.
6) Children can get involved too. Children that are part of the growing process are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables. They also show more nutritional knowledge about their food. These children tend to eat a more plant-based diet for the duration of their lives. So it sets up good habits for the rest of their lives and can help reduce chronic disease as adults.
7) It's fun! If you already garden you know what I mean. If you haven’t started yet, join in the fun. You will be surprised how simple it can be. You can start with a pot or a plot of land. Container gardening works in apartments, too. So there is no reason not to start now!
There's two different things to think about when we talk about Food Production. One is domestic food production (usually covering home vege gardening and having chickens for eggs or meat) and the other is commercial food production.
Food production can result in tremendous negative effects on the environment, especially in commercial situations where water is redirected from natural sources to irrigate, pesticides and herbicides are used to control unwanted insects and plants and artificial fertilisers are used to promote growth beyond what the land can naturally support. Food then has to be transported. Some animal products (like eggs) are produced in a really unethical way. These advances in growing technologies and agricultural techniques have drastically improved the crop and meat yields over time, but many aren't sustainable. Some of the effects are:
Removing water from rivers or bores to irrigate land alters the water table.
Cruel farming practices like factory egg farming or using sow crates for pig farming require animals to be contained in an unnatural environment, therefore restricting their natural behaviours and forcing them to eat unnatural foods (by unnatural foods, I refer to both GMO crops, and to the content of the feed itself - it's not normal for chickens to eat a diet of crushed seashells, corn, and grain exclusively)
The use of pesticides often impacts helpful species (such as bees, which are very important for pollination) as well as unwanted insects, as well as leaving residues on crops or in meat that humans or other animals then eat.
The use of herbicides can leave residues behind in the same way as pesticides.
Pesticides and herbicides are usually strong chemicals. These chemicals have to be synthesized in factories, bottled in plastic and shipped the the distributor, then the retailer, then the end user - all of which leaves behind a big carbon footprint.
Fertilizers can be made out of waste organic material (eg blood and bone), or can be mined eg NPK fertilisers. Naturally based fertilisers can be a good thing, they are a useful way of utilising an otherwise wasted by-product of meat production. Refined fertilisers have more of an impact on the environment - the raw materials are minerals that have built up in the ground over millions of years, which are then mined, refined (or concentrated), and transported to all the different distribution partners necessary to get the product to the end-user.
Harvesting of the crop is usually done with the help of a machine - usually running on diesel. The metals, plastics and oils that run the machine had to be mined, refined, transported and assembled - whew!
Transportation of the crop to the distribution centre (many crops are held in coolstores for a time - coolstores use a lot of energy), and from the distribution centre to the retailer, and from the retailer to the home of the consumer, or the location of the cafe or restaurant, or to the processor who alters the state of the product (cutting, freezing, canning, bottling, dehydrating and cooking - all of which take considerable electrical, mechanical or heat energy).
Much overland transportation of crops and live (or not) animals is done by diesel powered trucks. Fuel of all kinds is a challenge that the world faces - we know it's not sustainable to continue to drill for fossil fuels in an ever fuel-hungrier world, but for now we don't have many economically viable alternatives.