Posted on Leave a comment

Gardening Indoors vs. Gardening Outside – Does It Really Make a Difference?

September 26, 2018
Source: Click and Grow
Photo(s) Source: Click and Grow

There’s been a recent surge in interest in indoor gardening. Maybe it has something to do with urban families wanting to grow their own foods. Perhaps the convenience of indoor gardening is drawing would-be farmers into experimenting with the indoor growing process. Is there really a difference between growing your food indoors and growing it outside? Actually, there are several differences. Here’s why you may want to consider planting your next indoor garden.

Source: Click and Grow
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Climate Control

‘Nature knows best’ may be a phrase uttered by outdoor gardeners on the regular, but sometimes nature gets out of hand. Yes, plants need lots of sunlight and water to grow, but what happens when it rains too much? Or, not at all?

It can be difficult to control the growing conditions outdoors, but when you garden inside, you know exactly what your growing conditions are. Using a system like the Click and Grow lets you control the amount of water, light, and nutrients that your plants get every minute of the day.

Source: Click and Grow
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Growing vegetables on the countertop doesn’t just shelter your plants from harsh conditions but it shelters you and your family as well. Good luck getting the kids to go outside in their pajamas in the rain to get some spinach for this mornings omlette. They’ll be much more likely to help out if they don’t have to get wet or even put on shoes.

 Pests

If you’ve ever grown an outdoor garden, you’ll know the battle that can rage between you and pests that would eat your plants. Adorable bunnies and deer become your bitter enemies, not to mention the insects that can completely destroy all your hard work by devouring entire plants. Garden rodents and even birds can make outdoor gardening frustrating, especially if you never get to eat the foods you grow because the animals get to them first.

You can keep pests away with chemical and non-chemical methods, but if you’re looking for a low-maintenance, pest-free outdoor garden, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one. And even if you don’t use chemical pesticides on your plants, if your neighbors do, there’s always the chance that sprayed chemicals can drift onto your own garden.

Source: Click and Grow
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Indoor plants aren’t completely pest-free. Your cat could become your worst nightmare, especially if you grow catnip, but it’s definitely easier to keep Fluffy away from your indoor plants than it is to keep Bambi and Thumper out of your outdoor garden.

Space

If you live in an urban setting, it may be difficult or even impossible to find the space to grow a garden. Container gardening is an option, but only if you have a balcony or patio to keep your plants.

A lack of outdoor space is no problem for an indoor garden. This is why so many people who live in apartments are opting to grow herbs and even vegetables right in their kitchens. The compact nature of a hydroponic-style garden means that it takes less space and less hassle to grow delicious vegetables, herbs, and even fruits. Even small homes can accommodate up to dozens of plants when they’re grown vertically, and the use of grow lights means you don’t even need to keep them near a window.

Join the Garden Club Today
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Getting The Kids Involved

A climate-controlled, self-watering, self-lighting indoor garden basically takes all the work out of growing your food and it makes an easy introduction to teaching young children to grow their own food too. They learn how the right amount of moisture, nutrients, and light contributes to a healthy crop.

Source: Click and Grow
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

As the kids get bigger and understand the basics you can take them outside to show them how to pull cutworms from the underside of five foot tall tomato plants and how tilling the soil with composted manure adds in nutrients. Giving them an introduction indoors is a a great way to spark their curiosity and lay a foundation for growing larger plants outdoors.

Convenience

If you garden for pleasure, growing your plants outdoors is not a chore, it’s a hobby. You’ll probably enjoy the therapeutic time spent digging in the dirt, pulling weeds, and watering your plants. You may even enjoy the battle between you and the outdoor pests that can plague the typical backyard garden.

However, if you are gardening for food, you may not enjoy having to make time in your busy day to maintain an outdoor garden, or having to fight with the kids to get them to pitch in. This is where indoor gardening definitely has the upper hand. When it comes to convenience, an indoor garden simply can’t be beaten.

Source: Click and Grow
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

A system like the Click and Grow Smart Garden is basically zero-effort and fully automated, so you can ‘set it and forget it.’ And you literally don’t even have to leave the house to get fresh, organic produce, making it easier than ever to eat a healthy, balanced diet all year round.

If you’ve ever tried to go away for a week without watering your outdoor garden, you’ll know the risk you’re taking. You could come home to all dead plants due to a lack of water or pest infestation. Indoor gardens aren’t that needy. You can leave them for much longer periods, up to several weeks, without worrying about your plants.

Thank you to Scott Jenkins for submitting this article! 

Scott describes himself as “[a] Dad with two kids I understand how important it is to spend time with them in a constructive way. This seems particularly important today as kids would rather spend their time watching Disney Channel or playing video games when given a choice between TV and playing outside.” He writes for architypes.net and tweets at @scottjenkins.

Starting indoors is a great way to begining gardening and introduce it to kids. Will you start your garden indoors or outdoors? Will you involve your children. What will you grow?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

Posted on Leave a comment

Organic Pest Control: What Works, What Doesn’t

Our nationwide reader survey reveals the best methods for managing common garden pests.


By Barbara Pleasant
Source: Mother Earth News

  • Tomato HornwormThe tomato hornworm, a thorn in the side of many tomato growers, claimed the No. 7 spot in our list of the 12 worst garden pests.
    ILLUSTRATION: KEITH WARD

Last fall, MOTHER EARTH NEWS launched our Organic Pest Control Survey to learn more about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to limiting insect damage in organic vegetable gardens. About 1,300 gardeners from across North America responded, providing new, region-specific insight into organic pest control.

Our survey had strengths and weaknesses. It included opportunities for open comments, which became the source for the practical tips in this article. But, although we asked many questions about specific methods, we failed to always list chickens and ducks, which we learned many gardeners regard as essential players in controlling Japanese beetles and other garden pests.

We were surprised by some of the results. For example, we suspected gardeners would report that coping with various root maggots was a challenge, but 90 percent of respondents reported getting good control with crop rotation. Similarly, flea beetles didn’t make the list of worst pests because most gardeners achieve good control by using row covers and growing susceptible greens in fall rather than spring.

Ultimately, the survey revealed 12 widespread garden pests that give gardeners grief. Here are the nitty-gritty details, including down-in-the-dirt advice on how to manage each pest, plus details on which pests are the worst in each region. (To see illustrations of each of the worst pests, check out the Image Gallery.)

Join the Garden Club Today
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

1. Slugs took top honors as the most bothersome pest in home gardens, with 55 percent of respondents saying the slimy critters give them trouble year after year. Handpicking was highly rated as a control measure (87 percent success rate), followed by iron phosphate baits (86 percent) and diatomaceous earth (84 percent). Opinion was divided on eggshell barriers (crushed eggshells sprinkled around plants), with a 33 percent failure rate among gardeners who had tried that slug control method. An easy home remedy that received widespread support was beer traps (80 percent success rate).

Relying on bigger predators — such as chickens, garter snakes and ducks — appears to be the most dependable way to achieve long-term control of garden slugs, as well as several types of beetles, cutworms and many other pests. Ducks are reportedly sharp slug-spotters, whether you let them work over the garden in spring and fall, or enlist a pair to serve as your personal pest control assistants throughout the season.

“Hungry ducks follow me around the garden daily. They love slugs and turn them into eggs,” commented a Mid-Atlantic gardener with 10 to 20 years of experience. In the Pacific Northwest, several longtime veterans of slug wars said ducks are a gardener’s best (and most entertaining) way to end chronic problems with slugs.

2. Squash bugs had sabotaged summer and winter squash for 51 percent of respondents, and even ducks couldn’t solve a serious squash bug problem. Most gardeners reported using handpicking as their primary defense, along with cleaning up infested plants at season’s end to interrupt the squash bug life cycle. The value of companion planting for squash bug management was a point of disagreement for respondents, with 21 percent saying it’s the best control method and 34 percent saying it doesn’t help. Of the gardeners who had tried it, 79 percent said spraying neem on egg clusters and juvenile squash bugs is helpful. About 74 percent of row cover users found them useful in managing squash bugs.

Several respondents pointed out that delaying squash planting until early summer and growing the young plants under row covers results in far fewer problems with this pest. This makes sense because natural enemies of squash bugs become more numerous and active as summer progresses. Until then, keep scraping off those egg clusters, and handpick as best you can.

Three readers shared this tip: In the cool of the morning, place open pizza boxes beneath squash plants. Jostle the plants and let the adult and juvenile squash bugs fall into the boxes, and then slide your captives from the boxes into a pail of soapy water.

A creative idea from Editor-in-Chief Cheryl Long is to create a simple Squash Bug Squisher out of two thick boards and a hinge. Find out how to build the squisher, plus read comments from fellow readers who are battling squash bugs.

3. Aphids were on the watch list of 50 percent of respondents, but the success rates of various control techniques were quite high. Active interventions, including pruning off the affected plant parts and applying insecticidal soap, were reported effective, but so were more passive methods, such as attracting beneficial insects by planting flowers and herbs. Several readers noted the ability of sweet alyssum and other flowers to attract hoverflies, which eat aphids. “We attract a lot of beneficials by planting carefree flowers in the vegetable garden, including calendula, borage, zinnias, cosmos and nasturtiums” (Midwest, more than 20 years of experience). Other respondents commented on the importance of having some aphids around to serve as food for ladybeetles, hoverflies and other well-known beneficial insects.

4. Imported cabbageworms came in fourth, with a 47 percent “disapproval” rating. If you see these little white butterflies in your garden, take action to protect your brassicas before the cabbageworm moths lay eggs. Two widely accepted biological pesticides, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) and spinosad, received remarkably high effectiveness ratings: 95 percent for Bt and 79 percent for spinosad. Row covers had a reported success rate of 82 percent, while companion planting and garlic-pepper spray had disappointing failure rates in excess of 30 percent.

Several respondents said they rely on paper wasps to control cabbageworms. “They’re friendly, docile and voracious eaters of cabbageworms. My garden is full of cabbage butterflies, but I’ve yet to see a single worm; the wasps beat me to it” (Mid-Atlantic, six to 10 years of experience). To attract paper wasps, place bottomless birdhouses in the garden to provide nesting sites. Gardeners in the South, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest noted that cabbageworm populations drop if yellow-jacket nests are nearby, which enhances the success of fall cabbage-family crops.
-Advertisement-https://fccc20dca660c8997f887e1a5966295f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

5. Squash vine borers had caused problems for 47 percent of the survey respondents. The best reported control methods were crop rotation and growing resistant varieties of Cucurbita moschata, which includes butternut squash and a few varieties of pumpkin. The C. moschata varieties are borer-resistant because they have solid stems. Interestingly, if you’re attempting to fend off squash vine borers, lanky, long-vined, open-pollinated varieties of summer squash (zucchini and yellow crookneck, for example) may fare better than hybrids, because OP varieties are more likely to develop supplemental roots where the vines touch the ground. Many gardeners dump soil over these places, so if squash vine borers attack a plant’s main stem, the plant can keep on growing from its backup root system. Because borers attack stems, compact hybrids, which tend to grow from one or two main stems, are naturally more susceptible.

One tactic is to wait out the borer’s egg-laying season. “To avoid squash bugs and squash vine borers, planting vining crops late and covering them with row covers until the first female flowers has been effective for us” (Midwest, six to 10 years of experience).

6. Japanese beetles slid in at No. 6, which is surprising because they don’t pose problems in extremely hot or cold climates. Forty-six percent of respondents reported working in the unwelcome company of Japanese beetles, with handpicking being the most popular control method. Some gardeners grow trap crops of raspberries or other fruits to keep Japanese beetles away from plants. Several commonly used interventions — garlic-pepper spray, milky spore disease, pheromone traps and row covers — had high failure rates.

Numerous respondents said chickens ended their problems with Japanese beetles, with guinea fowl and ducks also recommended for ridding areas of Japanese beetle grubs and adults. Even if you don’t let your chickens scratch in your garden, your handpicking may be more enjoyable because you’ll have something tasty for your birds when you’re finished collecting the beetles. In late spring, when Japanese beetle larvae are close to the soil surface, letting wild, bug-eating birds work over the area can have a lasting impact, too. Several readers shared that having nesting pairs of robins and bluebirds (which feed insects to their young) is the best way to keep Japanese beetles from getting out of hand.

7. Tomato hornworms claimed the No. 7 spot, and were of concern to 42 percent of our survey respondents. Bt and handpicking were the preferred control methods, and several folks commented that tomato hornworms are among the easiest garden pests to handpick (probably because they’re large, easy to spot and produce a telltale, pebbly trail). Many gardeners reported seeing tomato hornworms often covered with rice-like cocoons of parasitic braconid wasps. “I had a lot of tomato hornworms this year, but the wasps took them out! Just like in the photos online and in bug books!” (Mid-Atlantic, more than 20 years of experience). Gardeners named zinnias and borage as good companion plants for reducing hornworm problems.

8. Cutworms were a concern for 41 percent of respondents, and effectiveness ratings for using rigid collars (made from plastic drinking cups or cardboard tissue rolls) to protect young seedlings from damage were amazingly high (93 percent effectiveness rating).

A common practice to reduce cutworm damage is to cultivate the soil’s surface once or twice before planting and hope robins and other bug-eating birds will swoop in to gather the juicy cutworms. Big, sturdy seedlings are naturally resistant to cutworms, so many gardeners said they set out seedlings a bit late to avoid cutworm damage.

9. Grasshoppers were a problem for 40 percent of respondents, and they seemed to be getting worse. We received many reports that increases in rainfall seemed to trigger an explosion in grasshopper populations. Chickens and guineas reportedly give good control by gobbling grasshoppers, but keep an eye on your poultry helpers to make sure they don’t harm crops. Gardeners described two interesting setups incorporating chickens for managing hoppers: a fenced garden with a fenced chicken “moat” around its perimeter, and a series of three small fenced gardens, each with a gate into the chicken yard for easy rotation of pecking services. (Sound cool? Check out our instructions on how to build your own chicken moat.) If grasshoppers are getting worse at your place, you may need chickens more than you think.

10. Cucumber beetles wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t transmit deadly bacterial wilt to cucumbers and melons, but as it is, 39 percent of our respondents named them as serious garden pests.

Neem, handpicking and good garden cleanup (removing all plant debris) were all rated as effective control measures, and once again poultry received many honorable mentions. Row covers earned more widespread use for the control of cucumber beetles than for any other pest, with more than 80 percent of people who had tried row covers reporting them to be effective.

Seventy percent of gardeners who’d tried companion planting said this method works for controlling cuke beetles, and 64 percent of people who’d tried yellow sticky traps reported these work.

11. Corn earworms were pegged as serious pests by 37 percent of respondents, many of whom get easy relief by using instruments ranging from oil cans to eyedroppers to add a few drops of canola or olive oil into the tips of ears, right when the silks start to show. Others reported using a standard solution of Bt in the same way, and several experienced gardeners pointed out the value of choosing varieties that have tight ear tips.

The corn earworm comments included several mentions of the ease with which earworm damage disappears if you pop off the end of the ear, thus making this pest not such a big deal. Raccoons, on the other hand, were reported to be a big deal, which was the main reason many gardeners gave for not growing corn. “If I plant sweet corn, the raccoons always eat it unless I fence them out” (Midwest, 25 years of experience).

12. Whitefly problems may be on the rise, because whitefly-plagued gardeners (36 percent reported a problem) often used exclamation points to emphasize their frustration with these tiny sucking pests. Insecticidal soap earned a high effectiveness rating (90 percent), though many respondents said they use Dawn or other dishwashing liquids rather than regulation insecticidal soap. (Caution: Some research has found that repeated use of soap or detergent sprays can reduce yields.)

Broad-Stroke Pest Control

Along with working to improve your soil and thus grow healthier, more pest-resistant plants, several other common-sense approaches echoed through the comments sections of our survey. “The best way to beat the bugs is to plant more than you can use yourself. You can always give the surplus away” (North Central/Rockies, six to 10 years of experience). Others pointed out the advantage of setting the stage for beneficial insects and then simply standing back. From the Midwest: “I am willing to overlook some bug damage in order to provide good habitat for the beneficials reproducing all though the gardening season.” From the South: “A balance of insects is the goal, and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ insects both have to eat.”


Garden Pest Control Trends

Pest Control on the Wing 

“Wild birds are a huge help, and gardeners should be encouraged to provide both nesting habitat and feeding stations for them. The bluebirds, flycatchers and other birds that live on my property spend a lot of time around my gardens catching bugs. The much-despised house sparrow is also a terrific boon to gardens, so urban gardeners would be well-advised to put out feeders even if that’s the only bird they will attract” (Maritime Canada, six to 10 years of experience).

Are Six-Legged Changes Afoot? 

One of the questions we asked in our survey was this: During the past three seasons, have there been noticeable changes in the insect activity in your garden? Thirteen percent of gardeners reported they’d had many more pest problems, and 29 percent reported slightly more problems. Several respondents noted that increases in rainfall during the past few seasons seemed to be associated with more grasshoppers. Also, the appearance of a new, exotic insect, the marmorated stink bug, has brought new pest control challenges to gardeners in Pennsylvania and nearby states.

The Value of Beneficials 

Seventy percent of survey respondents said they work to provide habitat for beneficial insects. Here’s what they said about whether this effort had helped to reduce pest problems:

Seems like it has helped a great deal — 32 percent

Seems it has been somewhat helpful — 49 percent

Seems to have helped with some pests — 6 percent

Doesn’t seem to make any difference — 13 percent


Top-Rated Natural Methods for Controlling Common Garden Pests

Aphid: Insecticidal soap, attracting beneficials, horticultural oil

Armyworm: Bt (Bacillus thuringiens), handpicking, row covers

Asparagus beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Blister beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Cabbage root maggot: Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth

Cabbageworm: Bt, handpicking, row covers

Carrot rust fly: Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth

Colorado potato beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Corn earworm: Bt, horticultural oil, beneficial nematodes

Cucumber beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Cutworm: Rigid collars, Bt, diatomaceous earth

Flea beetle: Insecticidal soap, garlic-pepper spray, row covers

Harlequin bug: Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem

Japanese beetle: Handpicking, row covers, milky spore disease

Mexican bean beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Onion root maggot: Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth

Slugs: Handpicking, iron phosphate slug bait, diatomaceous earth

Snails: Handpicking, iron phosphate slug bait, diatomaceous earth

Squash bug: Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem

Squash vine borer: Growing resistant varieties, crop rotation, beneficial nematodes

Stink bug: Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem

Tarnished plant bug: Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem

Tomato hornworm: Bt, handpicking, row covers

Whitefly: Insecticidal soap, attracting beneficials, horticultural oil


Worst Garden Pests by Region

Ever wondered which pests thrive in your region and how your region compares with others in North America? The information in our regional pest chart breaks it down.


Originally Published: June/July 2011

What organic pest remedies do you use in your garden? Why? How does it work?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

Posted on Leave a comment

Being Vegan in India

Veganism as a concept is practically unknown in India, as this starry-eyed idealist learned when she attempted to keep the faith

 BY ELIZABETH FLOCK
PUBLISHED: Sep 26, 2009 08:20:00 AM IST
UPDATED: Sep 26, 2009 05:25:27 PM IST
Source: Forbes
Photos Source: Forbes

When I moved to India, I thought it would be a vegan’s Mecca, a place where, at last, I could mingle with others who practiced a lifestyle just as fervently as I did.
I had chosen veganism a few years before because the whole animal slaughter thing became too difficult to ignore. I knew that most often the motivation for vegetarianism in India was more religious than animal-inspired, but the idea that an entire country could strive for ahimsa towards animals seemed both astonishing and perfect.


Image: Abhijeet KiniThat first day in India, taking in the barrage of things foreign and unknown on Mumbai’s streets, one thing stood out: Nearly every restaurant had a sign that marked itself as “Veg” or “Non-Veg.” Entire restaurants devoted to vegetarianism? I had died and gone to heaven!
Later that day, traipsing through the supermarket with naïve glee, I revelled in the system of labelling in which vegetarian products bore a green dot in a green square and animal-based products bore the label in brown. Very few vegetarian labels existed in the US.
The Jain family with whom I was staying told me how pleased they were that I had chosen vegetarianism even though I was American. (Translation: They were glad that even though I was from a heathen country where a typical dinner was a hunk of meat, I had chosen to forego that.)
The notion of the sacred cow, which I loved ingenuously as a kid, I saw in practice: Buses and cars bunched up in traffic to let them pass. It all seemed too good to be true. And it was.
You see, while India can lay claim to the earliest records of vegetarianism, adopted for similar reasons to mine — “Thou shalt not kill to eat” — the more than 30 percent of the population who are vegetarians in India are lacto-vegetarian. Vegetarianism comes in different categories, and it is these crucial distinctions that make my trusting vegan assumption so wrong.
Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products, and this country consumes a lot of them. India is the number one milk-producing country in the world, and dairy products are a vital part of the diet, in both rural and urban areas. I soon realised Amul’s milk, butter, and cheese were as ubiquitous as their ads.
Veganism runs against all of this. As a diet and as a lifestyle, it excludes the use of any animal products to produce food, clothing, or anything else you might use in daily life. So, not just no milk, curd or ice cream; it also means no silk sarees, leather shoes, and making the sometimes Herculean effort to use alternate toothpaste, shaving cream, and other basic products. Even sugar, which can be refined using charred animal bones, is taboo. (The first time I was told this by a zealous vegan cash register girl, I sheepishly removed the sugar from my shopping cart, and wondered if I would ever enjoy dessert again.)
Going to a restaurant was the first test of my veganism in India. My ignorance of Indian dishes at that time aside, there were few items on the menu which excluded dairy products.
Actually, that first time, there were none. Undeterred, I asked the waiter to please leave out the following: sugar, butter, milk, and any other dairy products. He looked at me without expression, though in my self-consciousness, I sensed derision. “Par wahi to khana hai,” he said, take all that away and what’s left? When the food came, I realised the dal had the glorious-yet-prohibited taste of ghee, which I had forgotten to mention.
After lunch, we went to get roadside tea. The vendor happily agreed to leave out the milk. Later, I found out the flavouring agent in the tea came from animals.
Just like in the US, animal products were intrinsically woven into the daily fabric of life.
As for vegan non-food products in India, forget it. Toothpaste? Bone powder. The beautifully-patterned shirts and sarees I had always longed for? Silk. Most cosmetics have wax. And alas for my premature excitement over supermarket labels: The same manufacturers who are so stringent about green dots and squares often do not list milk in their ingredients. That is, when they bother to list ingredients at all.
In a country that loves dairy products, and uses so many other animal-produced luxuries, I wondered dejectedly — but with a lingering sense of American superiority — was veganism even possible here?
Manish Jain is a vegan, and the creator of IndianVegan.com, a portal which promotes veganism in India by stressing ethical reasons, debunking myths and employing health experts for back-up.


Jain lives in Indore, and he says he can easily find all the necessary plant-based products needed to replace animal ones.
“Maybe it would be a problem in a small town. But in any city, you can replace dairy products with soya products, which are cheaply available. Instead of ice cream, you can eat gelato. We even order vegan cakes home.”
I was confused. Mumbai obviously had a wider selection of foods and products than Indore, yet I hadn’t found vegan products to be cheap, or easily available. Soya tofu that had any sane level of fat cost Rs 150 for a small pack, when a satisfying vegetarian meal in a restaurant cost just Rs 40. Seitan or tempeh, two Asian substitutes for meat, which are readily available in the US, were nowhere to be found.


Image: Abhijeet KiniJain tries another tactic. Many Indian foods, he says, are naturally vegan, such as dals, pulses, and legumes. He names bhindi masala and khachu as two delicious and purely vegan dishes. He was right. And after time, I found out how to specify exactly what not to include, instead of telling waiters, “Muje sirf ek bottle paani chaiye.” I soon found pure vegan restaurants in Mumbai, and even vegan groups in various cities around India.
While I had felt sheepishly jejune after realising I had confused vegetarians with the likelihood of a vegan lifestyle among them, I wasn’t completely off the herbivorous mark. The term ‘vegan’ was first used in the UK in 1944; a proper vegan community had already been in place in India for 20 years. Goodbye, lingering sense of Western superiority!
And yet, nearly 100 years later, that movement is still in its infancy in India. There have been some baby steps, and even large leaps, lately. McDonald’s, best known for its carnivorous menu of burgers and shakes, began to offer vegan meals in India in 2006.
The Indian Vegan Society, a branch of the Vegan Society in the UK, is bringing veganism more mainstream through concerts, book events, and excursions. Even Café Coffee Day now has a vegan shake.

But while restaurant menus can be modified, and most dals don’t have ghee, staying vegan sometimes isn’t possible. On domestic flights, for example, vegan food isn’t an option. Most Indian airlines, so careful to offer one or more vegetarian options, have nothing to offer to vegans.
I know what you are all thinking. Is this vegan thing even healthy? Forget India for a minute. Can a person subsist without dairy products, or any animal products, anywhere? I assure you they can.
To be balanced, I must say that the vegan lifestyle has long been criticised. In June last year, the debate came to a head when a 12-year-old girl in Scotland, whose parents kept her on a vegan diet, was rushed to the hospital with a degenerative bone condition. Back in 2001, a 10-month-old baby died from that diet. But while the parents were taken to task for their grave mistake, most health experts eventually decided the problem was the age of the children in combination with the diet, not veganism alone.


A few doctors in the US, India, and elsewhere, have told me that veganism isn’t healthy. Having someone tell you the way you are living is misguided is not easy to swallow. But its true that many vegans miss out on protein, calcium, iodine, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids, they say. I thought it sounded like a lot of mumbo-jumbo until I found out about the problems deficiencies of these vital elements can cause. For instance, children who are fed an unbalanced vegan diet can get anaemia, rickets, or cretinism. (Read: Extreme fatigue, soft bones, and stunted growth.) Adults may be diagnosed with osteomalacia, softening of the bones, or hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid gland, which can cause a host of other problems.
Most doctors agree, however, that the vegan diet is not the problem. The culprit is the poor dietary planning that often results from that diet. Many vegans substitute dairy products or meat with unhealthy processed foods. Mea culpa: I often submit to the allure of deep-fried banana chips instead of a real banana.
Dr. Deepika Malik, CEO of LifeCentury.com and Dr. Deepika’s Wellness, two widely-consulted health portals, stresses that vegans must make an extra effort to include certain elements in their diet.
“A person needs one gramme of protein per kilo that they weigh, daily. So a 60 kg person needs 60 grams of protein, which vegetarians can get through soya. Vegans must especially focus on calcium, which lacto-vegetarians get from dairy products. They can eat sesame seeds, almonds, green leafy vegetables, or take calcium supplements to satisfy this need.”


Image: Abhijeet KiniThe parents of the little girl in Scotland weren’t giving her enough calcium, which is why she ended up with a bone disease. The balance just wasn’t there.
Even more likely than calcium deficiency is deficiency of Vitamin B12. Jain concedes that vegans can never naturally include B12 in their diet — it is a bacteria not found in plant foods. He suggests vegans take a B12 supplement, soya milk fortified with the vitamin, or get the B12 shot, which is increasing in popularity. Before I added a B12 supplement to my own diet, my skin started to turn more sickly pale than usual — I had a mild case of anaemia.
Yet for all its detractors, veganism has its share of health experts on its side. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says that if properly planned, a plant-based diet is healthier than many others because it includes much more fruit and veggies. The group created a new food pyramid to replace the pervasive older one, this time with four food groups: Vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes.
The American Dietetic Association and Dieticians of Canada join the cluster of advocates by insisting that vegans often have lower cholesterol levels, lower saturated fat levels, and a lower body mass index. After I became vegan, all three lowered for me. I also felt more awake (I stopped needing coffee), more satiated after eating, and didn’t get sick nearly as often as I used to. Vegans, the two dietary associations point out, also generally have a lower risk of colon cancer and heart attack, the two biggest killers in India.
Whether veganism is healthful, detrimental, or, well, weird, it cannot be completely ignored. Manish Jain estimates there are 500 or so declared vegans, and a whole lot more who don’t use the word but aren’t consuming dairy products; for example, many Jains.
Regrettably, I’m not among them. The attempts to read labels that weren’t always there, to ask a family hosting me to make pao bhajji with a different bread that contained no butter, and to brush my teeth with baking powder or toothpaste shipped from the US — it became too much. I couldn’t maintain a healthful, balanced diet in the face of all these road bumps. I felt a fraud, and still do, for losing faith just because I didn’t reach the Promised Land. I came with an ideal, and I will leave with a stomach full of sugared, milky sweets.
But there are some who remain, and their numbers in India are growing.
Someday, ahimsa might means vegans rule the planet. If so, India would be leading the charge.

Have you considered being vegan? What could be the health benefits? What are the things one must consider when changing their diet form non-vegan to vegan?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

Posted on Leave a comment

9 Healthy Tips to Help You Start Eating a Vegan Diet

If cutting out meat, dairy and eggs leaves you confused about how to eat a healthy, balanced diet, you’re in the right place. Here are 9 healthy tips to starting a vegan diet.
Lisa Valente, M.S., RD January 25, 2018
Source: Eating Well
Photos Source: Eating Well

Pictured Recipe: Edamame & Veggie Rice Bowl

You’ve probably heard that eating more vegetables and less meat is healthy. Maybe you’re even feeling inspired to try eating a vegan diet-which excludes all animal products, including dairy and eggs-to improve your health or lose a little weight. Eating a vegan diet can be a healthy way to eat when your meals are full of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. You need a well-planned vegan diet to make sure you don’t miss out on essential nutrients or end up eating only processed vegan foods. Here are 9 simple tips for eating a vegan diet that is easy and healthy. Even if you’re just trying to adopt a more plant-based diet for better health, these tips are a great way to get started.

Kung Pao Broccoli
Photos Source: Eating Well
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pictured Recipe: Kung Pao Broccoli

1. Make Vegetables the Stars of Your Meals

People often get hung up on what they can’t have on a plant-based diet, instead of what they can. But a great meal does not have to center on meat. Veggie-packed meals are a winning choice all-around: veggies are full of vitamins (like A and K) and minerals (like potassium), they keep your calories in check and, because they are high in fiber, they can help you feel more satisfied.

containers
Photos Source: Eating Well
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pictured Recipe: Black Bean-Quinoa Buddha Bowl

2. Eat a Variety of Foods

To make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet, it’s important to eat balanced meals that include a variety of healthy foods. For example, you’ll get protein and fiber from beans; leafy greens are great sources of vitamins A, C and K. Choose produce from all colors of the rainbow to get all the benefits. Red tomatoes have heart-healthy lycopene, blue blueberries have brain-boosting anthocyanins and orange sweet potatoes have lots of vitamin A to help keep eyes healthy. Looking for meal ideas? Try a simple well-balanced grain bowl: top brown rice, or quinoa, with beans and a mix of sautéed or roasted veggies.

Recipes to try: Enjoy a simple well-balanced plate of brown rice and beans with vegetables or a hearty bowl of our Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili, chock-full of nutrient-rich veggies and whole grains.

Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo
Photos Source: Eating Well
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pictured Recipe: Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo

3. Choose Whole Grains

Swapping out refined grains, such as white pasta and white bread, for whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, adds iron and B vitamins to a vegan diet (nutrients that are stripped out when the grains are refined). And, the extra fiber from whole grains will help keep you full, and may even help you lose weight.

Vegan Jackfruit Tacos
Photos Source: Eating Well
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pictured Recipe: Vegan Jackfruit Tacos

4. Discover New Plant-Based Proteins

This seems like a no-brainer if you’re vegan, but one thing everyone can do for better health is eat more plant-based proteins. Animal sources of protein, like meat and cheese, tend to be high in unhealthy saturated fat. (Plus, there are plenty of good environmental reasons to cut out animal sources of food.) Vegan sources of protein really are plentiful and include: tofu, tempeh, edamame (soybeans), lentils, chickpeas and beans. Nuts, like almonds and walnuts, and seeds, like sunflower and pumpkin seeds, also deliver protein. Even though many people think it’s difficult for vegans to eat enough protein, it typically isn’t an issue for someone eating a varied diet and consciously including sources of plant-based protein. The Institute of Medicine recommends women get 46 grams of protein daily and men 56 grams-an amount that’s pretty easy to reach. Women would meet their daily quota with ½ cup of dry oatmeal (5 grams protein), 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (8 grams), 1/2 cup of chickpeas (5 grams),1 cup of cooked quinoa (8 grams), 24 almonds (6 grams), 1 cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti (7 grams) and 1/2 cup of tofu (10 grams). Men could add just ½ cup of cooked lentils (9 grams) to meet their daily protein requirement.

Vegan Substitutes for Holiday Baking
Photos Source: Eating Well
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pictured Recipe: No-Sugar-Added Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

5. Don’t Assume Vegan Food Products Are Healthier

Vegan cookies aren’t necessarily any better for your waistline than regular cookies. And garlic bread made with vegan margarine isn’t necessarily any healthier for your heart than one made with butter. Processed vegan foods often contain saturated-fat-laden palm oil and coconut oil. Stick to whole, nutritious foods that just happen to be vegan, such as carrots and hummus, nuts and dried fruit, whole-grain tortilla chips with guacamole. Indulging in vegan treats every so often is fine, but don’t justify them as “healthy” simply because they’re vegan.

Recipe: Make your own quick, to-go foods like this Peanut Tofu Wrap.

9 Healthy Tips to Help You Start Eating a Vegan Diet
Photos Source: Eating Well
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pictured Recipe: Chai Chia Pudding

6. Focus On Fish-Free Omega-3s

Even when you eat a variety of healthy vegan foods, some nutrients will be hard to come by. DHA and EPA, two types of omega-3 fatty acids, are important for eye and brain development, as well as heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids are found mainly in fatty fish like salmon, though they can be made by the body in small amounts from ALA, another type of omega-3 that’s found in plants like flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil and soy. A variety of foods, including soymilks and breakfast bars, are now fortified with DHA. Supplements of DHA/EPA made from algae are also available.

4444943.jpg
Photos Source: Eating Well
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pictured Recipe: Vegan Smoothie Bowl

7. Don’t Forget About Vitamin D

Most people get Vitamin D from canned fish like salmon and sardines and fortified dairy products like milk and yogurt, but D is also in some fortified nondairy milks such as soy or almond milk and orange juice. Some mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light are also good sources. In the summer months, when the sun is stronger our skin can synthesize D. The daily value (DV) for vitamin D is 600 IU, with some experts saying that it should be closer to 1,500 IU. Many people, vegans included, may need to take a supplement to hit those numbers.

Roasted Root Veggies and Greens over Spiced Lentils
Photos Source: Eating Well
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pictured Recipe: Roasted Root Veggies & Greens over Spiced Lentils

8. Pump Up Your Iron

Animal proteins like meat and chicken are the best sources of iron, which is another nutrient that’s important for vegans to pay attention to. Vegans can still get this mineral from beans, legumes and leafy greens, but iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) isn’t as easily absorbed as it is from meat sources (heme iron). To get the most of plant-based iron, eat iron-rich foods with vitamin-C rich foods, which helps boost absorption, and not at the same time as calcium-rich foods, which can inhibit iron absorption.

Mushroom Pate
Photos Source: Eating Well
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Pictured Recipe: Mushroom Pate

9. Be Aware of B12

Vitamin B12-a vitamin that helps transform food into energy in our bodies and aids in brain function-is found mainly in animal foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy foods. People following a vegan diet can get some B12 from fortified cereals or energy bars, but should talk with their doctor about taking a supplement. The DV for Vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms for most adults.

How can a diet with more vegetables and fruits improve your health? How can you introduce more vegetables and fruits into your diet? How can you receive all the nutrients you need with a vegetable and fruit rich diet?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

Posted on Leave a comment

India Has 70%+ Non-Vegetarian Population But Is Considered Vegetarian; Why?

Home Food  India Has 70%+ Non-Vegetarian Population But Is Considered Vegetarian; Why?

By Roshni Ramesan -February 3, 2021
Source: Ed Times

Source: Ed Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

India has the highest number of vegetarians in the world, with more than 400 million people identifying as vegetarian. However, various surveys over the years show that the estimated percentage of the vegetarian population is anywhere between 23% and 37%. That leaves a huge percentage of the population with non-vegetarian food habits. 

So why is it that a country, where the majority consumes poultry and meat, is considered as the vegetarian capital of the world? 

Historical evidence of meat consumption

India’s abundant forests, animals, birds and fishes ensured that meat-eating was a widespread practice. Archaeological evidence from the Harappan civilization also points to the consumption of animals. Even animal sacrifices were prevalent.

However, due to the spread of Jainism and the teachings of Buddha, vegetarianism became more common, with Hindu communities too turning to vegetarianism. Yet, other than upper castes, a large population continued eating meat.

Yet now, with a huge population that is verifiably non-vegetarian, for the West, India continues to be a place of strict vegetarianism.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that government data shows that vegetarian households are more affluent and have a higher income, which is how the ‘vegetarian stereotype’ is more likely to take over people’s minds. 

State-wise percentage of vegetarians and non-vegetarians
Source: Ed Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

This power to represent communities, regions, or even the entire country is what makes the stereotypes. The term non-vegetarian is a good case in point. It signals the social power of vegetarian classes, including their power to classify foods, to create a ‘food hierarchy’ wherein vegetarian food is the default and is having a higher status than meat. Thus it is akin to the term ‘non-whites’ coined by ‘whites’ to capture an incredibly diverse population who they colonised,” said anthropologist Balmurli Natrajan and economist Suraj Jacob. 


More Indian men consume meat than women

According to the National Family Health Survey, 2015-16, 42.8% Indian women and 48.9% of men consumed poultry and meat weekly. 

The survey also noted that meat and egg consumption increases with increasing household income, however, the richest 20% of Indians consume slightly less meat and eggs, bucking the trend. 

The young state of Telangana has the highest percentage of non-vegetarians with 98.7% of the population consuming meat. West Bengal (98.55%) and Andhra Pradesh (98.25%) follow closely. 

State-wise percentage of vegetarianism
Source: Ed Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Meanwhile, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab are states with the lowest percentage of non-vegetarians. 

People from Southern states like Kerala and Goa and Eastern states like Assam and Tripura also had large non-vegetarian populations.

Food consumption of Southern states
Source: Ed Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Weekly consumption

While surveys have identified that India has a small vegetarian population, the weekly and daily eating habits of most Indians stray away from non-vegetarianism. 

Weekly consumption of poultry and meat (men)
Source: Ed Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

According to the National Family Health Survey, barely 6% of the population eats meat on a daily basis, and nearly 40% on a weekly basis, thus showing that regular meat-eating Indians are relatively less. 

Daily food consumption of Indian women, 2015-16
Source: Ed Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Underreported meat consumption due to cultural factors

India has a violent history of mob lynching and social ostracization of people who consume beef because a cow is considered to be sacred in Hinduism. India’s ruling party, BJP, does not hide its inclination towards vegetarianism. Food choices have become very much political.

In such a nation, the consumption of beef is not as high as in western countries.

A reported 7% of the population eats beef. However, this figure is disputed by many researchers, who claim that the actual statistic is closer to 15% with people unwilling to admit to eating meat due to cultural and religious factors. A 2015 study of urban middle-class Indians found that young people felt “you eat [meat] in secret, away from your family”.

India, with its smorgasbord of cuisines, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, should not be restricted to an outdated stereotype that is being propelled into people’s consciousness by sheer ignorance.

Numbers don’t lie, so although daily consumption of meat is not an entirely common phenomenon, it is also wrong to assume that vegetables and pulses are all that an average Indian consumes.


Image Sources: Google Images
Sources: BBCIndia SpendBusiness Today
Find the blogger: @RoshniKahaHain

This post is tagged under: are most Indians vegetarians, Is vegetarianism increasing in India, Indian vegetarian nation myth, what percentage of Indians are vegetarian, non-vegetarian population in India by state, reasons for vegetarianism in India, percentage of non-vegetarian in India, Are most people in South India non-vegetarian, beef consumption in India, why is india veg, veg habits, reasons for being a veg country, majority vegetarians, non veg eaters in india

What are the benefits to a vegetarian diet to your health despite religious beliefs? How can a vegetable and fruit rich diet impact your health? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

Posted on Leave a comment

Africa’s Been At This Vegetarian Thing Longer Than Most of the World

  1. Africa’s Been At This Vegetarian Thing Longer Than Most of the World
Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s
Source: Live Kindly
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Prior to the rise of meat consumption, many African cuisines were vegetarian-friendly, relying on grains, root vegetables, and produce.
BY KAT SMITH
Source: Live Kindly

As vegan meat, dairy, and other alternatives gain an increased presence in Western supermarkets, one might get the idea that plant-based diets are something new. But in many regions across the globe, eating little to no meat has been a cornerstone of national cuisine. Africa is one example. For centuries prior to European colonization, food was often vegetarian.

The Rising Influence of Meat

Goat meat and fish made up small portions of many regional African diets. But today, meat consumption is on the rise.

“What Ghana and many countries with growing economies are seeing are nutritional transitions,” Afia Amoako, the author of the blog The Canadian African, tells LIVEKINDLY in an email.

“As more people enter the middle class, there is more appetite for things that might have been difficult to have much of as children,” she continues. “This includes more cars and for many having more supply of meat.  It doesn’t help that fast food companies are seeing our largely unregulated food system as a market for potential growth.”

Amoako adds that there’s a name for this: nutrition transition. This explains a shift in dietary consumption that coincides with economic development. It’s most often used to talk about a shift away from more grain and fiber-rich diets toward processed meat-heavy Western dietary patterns.Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s

Red red, a Ghanaian stew made with black-eyed peas and plantains. | The Canadian African
Source: Live Kindly
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Showcasing Traditional Foods

Today, many chefs are showcasing plant-forward traditional African dishes. Ethiopian restaurants, such as New York City’s Bunna Cafe and Azla Vegan in Los Angeles, show the diversity of the country’s plant-based dishes.

Amoako, who went plant-based for the environment, dedicates her blog to sharing affordable recipes that pay homage to her Ghanaian roots and other cuisines from around Africa. She also explores broader topics, from healthy lifestyle tips to identity. The goal is to make African cuisine more accessible to all. She adds that her favorite dish is “red red”, a bean and plantain-based stew made with tomato, onion, peppers, garlic, and ginger.

Tendai Chipara, the Zimbabwean blogger behind Plant-Based African, adopted a whole foods, plant-based diet after being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in 2018. Prior to that, she struggled with other health issues such as anemia, fatigue, joint pain, and depression.

“I realized that I was going down a slippery slope that would end up with me without limbs, blind or worse dead,” she says. “Looking at evidence-based research the most successful way to deal with insulin resistance is to adopt a whole food plant-based diet.”

Chipara explains that growing up, the dishes she ate emphasized plant-based ingredients more than meat. Like other West African cuisines, meat is typically added for flavor. Chipara prefers to leave meat out altogether, but she has also begun incorporating mushrooms or soy chunks.

Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s
Source: Live Kindly
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

‘Our Ancestors Followed a Plant-Based Diet’

Fermented food and drinks are common in Zimbabwean food. Common produce includes muboora (pumpkin), magaka ane minzwa (horned melon), and mbambaira (sweet potatoes). Oils, tomatoes, and onion are the “bedrock of most Zimbabwean dishes,” Chipara adds. “The ‘supu’ or sauce is important it can make or break a dish.”

Chipara adds that the plant-based movement is not new to Zimbabwe: “Our ancestors followed a plant-based diet and they thrived and most died of old age. The food they ate was organic and meat and meat products were consumed minimally.”

Many foods marketed as “superfoods,” she adds, are foods that she grew up eating, such as avocados, moringa, and baobab. While Zimbabwean cuisine is easy to make plant-based, meat is a common ingredient. But, it wasn’t always this way. The increase in meat consumption is linked to European colonialism.

“The unfortunate thing that happened to us a people was colonization which led to a massive change to our food production, access to land, and the emergence of processed foods,” Chipara explains. “We now have a high number of the population being affected by lifestyle-related issues such as type-2 diabetes. So I am very passionate about Zimbabwean plant-based cuisine because it is medicine.”

Chipara adds that a few traditional plant-based Zimbabwean dishes include muriwo une dovi (leafy greens with peanut butter), mupunga unedovi (short grain red rice with peanut butter), and sadza reZviyo (porridge made from sorghum or teff).Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s

Plantains and legumes are staple ingredients in many West African cuisines. | The Vegan Nigerian
Source: Live Kindly
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Be Generous With Spices

Tomi Makanjuola, founder of The Vegan Nigerian blog and author of the “Plantain Cookbook,” is a Lagos, Nigeria-born entrepreneur living in London. She explains that “a couple of traditionally plant-based Nigerian dishes include yam pottage and stewed beans with plantain.”

She adds that both dishes are “absolutely delicious.

Other common ingredients in Nigerian cuisine include yam (also referred to as African yam, which has rough brown skin and off-white flesh), cassava, okra, egusi (melon) seeds, and cocoyam (taro).

Makanjuola enjoys making vegan versions of meals that traditionally include meat, such as pepper soup. Yam and scotch bonnet peppers are the key ingredients in this spicy dish. Egusi soup, which features leafy greens, ground egusi seeds, tomato, pepper, and onions, is another favorite recipe.

For these, Makanjuola prefers whole food, plant-based substitutes like mushrooms, eggplant, beans, and lentils. “As long as the meals are spiced well, it won’t seem as though you’re missing out on anything,” she says.

“Nigerian cuisine is wonderfully diverse and big on flavour,” she adds. “It lends itself well to a vegan diet because it is so rich in plant foods that can be cooked and enjoyed in ways that do not require meat or any other animal products.”Africa’s Vegetarian Roots Are Deeper Than Most of the World’s

Nigerian-born blogger Fatimat Adelabu uses mushrooms instead of meat in dishes like jollof rice. | Je Gbese
Source: Live Kindly
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Replace Meat With Mushrooms

Fatimat Adelabu, the author of the blog Je Gbese, which means “eat credit/debt” or “trouble” in Yoruba, an official language of Nigeria, says that she grew up eating many meat-heavy dishes. Goat, cow tripe, oxtail, and fish were common additions to stewed dishes. She transitioned to plant-based in 2017 after watching the documentary “What the Health” on Netflix.

“I started off watching it with a bowl of chicken and rice, by mid-way I had placed the half-eaten bowl next to me, and at the end,” says Adelabu. “I was in the kitchen bagging meats from my fridge and freezer and tossing them into my garbage can.”

She moved to New York City from Nigeria at age four and has always lived near supermarkets that carry West African produce. This is due to Nigerian, Ghanaian, Senegalese, Guinean, Beninese, and Malian immigrant communities.

“One of my favorite dishes is efo riro, stirred spinach in Yoruba,” she says. “Efo riro is largely spinach and blended stew, with seasonings like locust beans, thyme, and bouillon cubes to bring out the flavors of the stew. The addition of meat is usually to get more of the flavors of the meat to infuse with the stew.”

Adelabu is a fan of replacing meat with mushrooms as well. She also uses them to replace meat-based stock. “For stock, I boil mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic and onion with a dash of soy sauce or mushroom bouillon,” she says. This works well for jollof rice, a one-pot dish made with tomato and onion.

“Nigerian cuisine is very versatile,” she adds. “I encourage everyone to attempt to make jollof rice or efo riro to try out the different flavors of the country. If you see a dish with meat, leave it out or replace it with mushrooms.”The Best Vegan Meat for BBQ Grilling In the UK

Demand for vegan burgers is on the rise.
Source: Live Kindly
Shidonna Raven Garden and Coo

The Future of African Cuisine

But it’s not just Africa’s past that’s plant-based. It’s future is looking that way, too.

Like the rest of the world, meat consumption has increased across Africa. But so has a rise in vegan and vegetarian options. South African vegan meat brand Fry’s is a staple in supermarkets, offering plant-based versions of many classic dishes.

Leading Nigerian agribusiness Chi Farms is the first Nigerian company to bring vegan burgers to the country.

Veganism in Nigeria is popular among the Indian-born minority and among Nigerians returning to Nigeria from abroad,” Johannes Flosbach, Head of Performance Management Group at TGI Group of Companies (Chi Farms’ parent company), told Vegconomist.

Older Nigerians are also shifting away from meat for health reasons, as meat-heavy Western diets can increase the rates of diseases including heart disease and stroke.

Rwanda is now on the brink of creating a “Silicon Valley” that’s aimed at “transforming the continent.”

The innovation destination will be located in the capital city of Kigali. It will work with domestic and foreign universities, technology companies, biotech firms, agriculture, healthcare, and financial services. Like other tech-heavy regions across the globe, this could bring more plant-based food (think Impossible Burgers or JUST vegan egg) to Africa. It could also bring another hot food tech category to the continent: lab-grown cell-based meat.

This is already happening nearby in Israel, where Future Meat Technologies is working on the world’s first pilot production facility for growing cultured meat.

Veganism is also making a name for itself in Africa’s wild, as anti-poaching rangers, including an all-female troupe called Akashinga, are vegan. The troupe is part of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation run by former Navy sniper Damien Mander.

“We need an armed component,” he told the BBC in 2018, “but we need to start moving more and more of our resources into communities, and the best people for that are women.”

Kat Smith, Live Kindly
Kat Smith, Live Kindly

Managing Editor | New York City, NY Kat writes about susainable food, fashion, and food technology. They have a BA in Cinema and Culture Studies from Stony Brook University.https://twitter.com/livekindlykat

How has meat consumption impacted your health? How has food production practices including the use of chemical pesticides impacted your health? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Basics of a Vegan Diet

By Alyssa Pike, RDFEBRUARY 7, 2019
Source: Food Insight

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Cilantro
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Cilantro
Photo Source: Unsplash, Lindsay Moe

Highlights

– Vegan diets only include plant-based foods.

– Research has shown that vegan or vegetarian diets rich in plant-based foods are associated with lower LDL cholesterol, improved blood glucose and improved blood pressure.

– There are a few nutrients that individuals following a vegan diet should be mindful to get enough of, including vitamin B12, calcium, iron and certain omega-3 fatty acids.

The Basics

Vegan and vegetarian diets appear to be among the top food trends, but there is evidence that some people have been eating a predominantly plant-based or vegetarian diet for centuries. However, it wasn’t until 1944 that the term “vegan” was coined. Essentially, individuals who follow a vegan diet have opted to remove all animal-based foods from their diet. Many choose vegan clothing, household items and personal care items as well. Most individuals who adopt a vegan diet are doing so for the perceived health benefits or to advocate for animal rights.

What Foods Make Up a Vegan Diet?

Vegan diets are made up of only plant-based foods. This type of diet includes fruits, vegetables, soy, legumes, nuts and nut butters, plant-based dairy alternatives, sprouted or fermented plant foods and whole grains. Vegan diets don’t include animal foods like eggs, dairy, meat, poultry or seafood. They also are devoid of animal byproducts such as honey (made by bees) and lesser-known animal-based ingredients like whey, casein, lactose, egg white albumen, gelatin, carmine, shellac, animal-derived vitamin D3 and fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids.

Veganism and Health

The foods emphasized in a vegan diet are rich in many nutrients like vitamins A, C, E and K, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Vegan diets have been studied for their impact on human health. Below are some highlights.

Research

One randomized controlled trial (RCT) examined the impact of a vegan, no-added-fat diet on cardiovascular risk in obese children with hypercholesterolemia and their parents. The results found that children and parents who had adopted this diet had lower total cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI compared to baseline. Another RCT found that vegan diets were associated with improved glycemic control compared to a conventional diabetes diet in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Lastly, a 74-week RCT – albeit with a small sample size – found a low-fat vegan diet appeared to improve glycemia and plasma lipids more than a conventional diabetes diet. Larger and long-term follow up studies are needed to support these findings.

Health benefits of vegan diets have also been noted in observational studies. One systematic review of cross-sectional and prospective cohort studies reported lower body mass index, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (or “bad” cholesterol) and blood glucose levels in individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets compared to omnivores. The results of the studies specific to people on a vegan diet indicated that this eating pattern reduced the overall cancer risk by 15 percent. Although cross-sectional and cohort studies cannot prove cause and effect (as in, a vegan diet causes health benefits), these findings support the results of RCTs, which are considered to be the gold standard of research and are designed to demonstrate that an intervention (following a vegan diet) leads to an effect (health benefits).

Most of this research has garnered positive results. Still, understanding the specific effects of vegan diets on health remains challenging because research on this eating pattern is often grouped together with vegetarian or plant-based diets, both of which may include animal products.

Nutrients of Concern

While the vegan diet can be very nutrient-rich, there are a few nutrients to be particularly aware of when adopting this style of eating: most notably vitamin B12, calcium, certain omega-3 fatty acids and iron.

Vitamin B12 is important for metabolism, heart, nerve and muscle health and it’s mostly found in animal products. Those following a vegan diet should opt for foods fortified with B12. Moreover, individuals following a vegan diet should communicate with a health care provider about monitoring their levels of B12 and their potential need for a supplement, keeping in mind that a deficiency in B12 could take years to manifest on a blood test.

Calcium is essential for dental, nerve, bone and muscle health and it is best absorbed with vitamin D. This nutrient is found predominantly in dairy foods and in lesser amounts in leafy greens like kale and broccoli. It is also found in fortified foods, such as tofu, bread and plant-based dairy alternatives. A systematic review found that individuals following a vegan or vegetarian diet had lower bone mineral density and higher fracture rates. Because calcium and vitamin D are key to bone health, those on a vegan diet are advised to talk to their healthcare provider to determine whether a supplement may be necessary.

Iron is a vital component of metabolism and heart health. It is found mostly in animal foods. Although fortified whole grains, beans, lentils, spinach and other plant-based foods provide iron, it’s in the form of non-heme iron, which is not as bioavailable as the heme iron found in animal foods.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat shown to support cardiovascular health. The three most common types we eat are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found in plant sources like flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts, but EPA and DHA are found mainly in animal foods with the exception of some marine plant sources. ALA is converted by our bodies into EPA and DHA, but only in small quantities. Vegan options for EPA and DHA are microalgae and seaweed food products or supplements.

Interested in learning the basics of other food, nutrition and health topics? Check out our “What Is” series.

This article includes contributions by Kris Sollid, RD and Ali Webster, PhD, RD

Are you vegan? Have you considered becoming a vegan? Which cultures are traditionally and predominantly vegan?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

Posted on Leave a comment

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOIL AND DIRT

Posted under Home Gardening by Nan Fischer on 
Source: Natures Path

Why do we garden in soil, yet when we wash it off our hands or out of our clothes, it is annoying dirt? How can one item have two definitions, one positive and one negative? Soil provides food, trees, shrubs, and flowers, but dirt is a nuisance remove. Yet they are the same thing!

The Soil Science Society of America defines dirt as ‘displaced soil’, which covers the scenario above, when you clean up after working in the garden. On a larger scale, think of how much soil gets displaced from a landslide and suddenly becomes dirt!

SOIL IS LIVING

Soil is alive with living organisms such as worms, fungi, insects, bacteria, and organic matter. It supports life with its naturally occurring nutrients and minerals, making it a perfect planting medium. It is a complete and self-sustaining ecosystem.

Sand, silt, clay, and organic matter make up soil. The different sized particles create texture and structure, which aid in aeration and drainage. Soil color shows its mineral content. Different soil types are described by their properties.

When this magnificent living thing called soil leaves the garden on your hands or clothes, it gets displaced and is now defined as dirt.

Source: Natures Path
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

DIRT IS DEAD

Dirt is made up of sand, silt, and clay, and it may be rocky. It has none of the minerals, nutrients, or living organisms found in soil. It is not an organized ecosystem. There is no topsoil or humus, no worms or fungi. Lacking texture and structure, dirt does not compact when wet, unlike a handful of soil. The result is run-off and erosion. An old dirt road comes to mind with this definition.

Dirt is dead and does not support life. You cannot plant a productive garden in dirt.

SOIL FORMATION

All soil began as dirt. Natural soil formation takes thousands or millions of years, as rocks erode into sand and organic matter decays and accumulates. To archaeologists, the resulting layers of soil represent time, each telling how and when it was created. To them, dirt has no history.

Think of that landslide again. Ancient layers of healthy soil wash away to a new location with no topsoil, no layers, no organization, and no history. Now it’s a pile of dirt, and the process of soil building must begin again.

There are five factors that affect soil formation:

  • Climate
  • Organisms
  • Relief (landscape)
  • Parent material
  • Time

These factors are known to soil scientists as CLORPT, which work together to create the earth’s crust.

There’s no need to wait a million years to transform dirt to soil in your yard, though. Soil is made by mixing dirt with the living organisms that make soil soil.

Source: Natures Path
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Build a compost pile, and add it to your dirt. Organic matter such as leaves, kitchen scraps, and grass clippings attract the beneficial organisms necessary to break it down into beautiful and productive soil. Worms, fungi, microbes, and bacteria are the natural result of good composting practices. Through this video, Dr Elaine Ingham, a renowned soil biologist, speaks in detail about soil microbiology and the importance of compost.

You don’t have to be a soil scientist to see that the difference between soil and dirt is compost. Healthy living soil is all you need to have a beautiful yard and abundant vegetable garden, so there is no need for synthetic, toxic pesticides and fertilizers.

Next time you go inside to clean up after gardening, maybe leave some soil in the garden to cut down on dirt in the house!

NAN FISCHER

What will you be growing this year? Consider this as you amend or develop your soil. Where will your garden be located? Why?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

Posted on Leave a comment

Know Your Garden Soil: How to Make the Most of Your Soil Type

JUNE 6, 2013 WRITTEN BY RUTH BARTON
Source: Earth Easy

If you’re planning to get serious about gardening it’s crucial you get to know your soil type. No matter how much work you do in your yard and garden, all that careful sowing, weeding and tending could be in vain if the quality of your soil is not up to scratch.

The soil provides your plants with the vital nutrients, water and air that they require for healthy growth and development. But each plot of ground has its own blend of minerals, organic and inorganic matter which largely determines what crops, shrubs or trees can be grown successfully.

Ideal soil conditions for specific crops can be created in contained plots such as raised beds or planters, but for larger gardens and landscapes it helps to understand the characteristics of the soil you have to work with.

The Six Types of Soil

There are six main soil groups: clay, sandy, silty, peaty, chalky and loamy. They each have different properties and it is important to know these to make the best choices and get the most from your garden.

1. Clay Soil

Clay soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Clay soil feels lumpy and is sticky when wet and rock hard when dry. Clay soil is poor at draining and has few air spaces. The soil will warm up slowly in spring and it is heavy to cultivate. If the drainage for the soil is enhanced, then plants will develop and grow well as clay soil can be rich in nutrients.

Great for: Perennials and shrubs such as Helen’s Flower, Aster, Bergamot, Flowering quince. Early vegetable crops and soft berry crops can be difficult to grow in clay soil because of its cool, compact nature. Summer crop vegetables, however, can be high yielding vigorous plants. Fruit trees, ornamental trees and shrubs thrive on clay soils.

2. Sandy Soil

Sandy soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Sandy soil feels gritty. It drains easily, dries out fast and is easy to cultivate. Sandy soil warms up fast in spring and tends to hold fewer nutrients as these are often washed away during wetter spells. Sandy soil requires organic amendments such as glacial rock dustgreensandkelp meal, or other organic fertilizer blends. It also benefits from mulching to help retain moisture.

Great for: Shrubs and bulbs such as Tulips, Tree mallow, Sun roses, Hibiscus. Vegetable root crops like carrots, parsnips and potatoes favour sandy soils. Lettuce, strawberries, peppers, corn, squash, zucchini, collard greens and tomatoes are grown commercially in sandy soils.

3. Silty Soil

Silty soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook


Silty soil feels soft and soapy, it holds moisture, is usually very rich in nutrients. The soil is easily cultivated and can be compacted with little effort. This is a great soil for your garden if drainage is provided and managed. Mixing in composted organic matter is usually needed to improve drainage and structure while adding nutrients.

Great for: Shrubs, climbers, grasses and perennials such as Mahonia, New Zealand flax. Moisture-loving trees such as Willow, Birch, Dogwood and Cypress do well in silty soils. Most vegetable and fruit crops thrive in silty soils which have adequate adequate drainage.

4. Peaty Soil

Peaty soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Peaty soil is a darker soil and feels damp and spongy due to its higher levels of peat. It is an acidic soil which slows down decomposition and leads to the soil having fewer nutrients. The soil heats up quickly during spring and can retain a lot of water which usually requires drainage. Drainage channels may need to be dug for soils with high peat content. Peat soil is great for growth when blended with rich organic matter, compost and lime to reduce the acidity. You can also use soil amendments such as glacial rock dust to raise pH in acidic soils.

Great for: Shrubs such as Heather, Lantern Trees, Witch Hazel, Camellia, Rhododendron. Vegetable crops such as Brassicas, legumes, root crops and salad crops do well in well-drained peaty soils.

5. Chalky Soil

Chalky soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Chalky soil is larger grained and generally stonier compared to other soils. It is free draining and usually overlays chalk or limestone bedrock. The soil is alkaline in nature which sometimes leads to stunted growth and yellowish leaves – this can be resolved by using appropriate fertilizers and balancing the pH. Adding humus is recommended to improve water retention and workability.

Great for: Trees, bulbs and shrubs such as Lilac, Weigela, Madonna lilies, Pinks, Mock Oranges. Vegetables such as spinach, beets, sweet corn, and cabbage do well in chalky soils.

6. Loamy Soil

Loamy soil
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Loamy soil, a relatively even mix of sand, silt and clay, feels fine-textured and slightly damp. It has ideal characteristics for gardening, lawns and shrubs. Loamy soil has great structure, adequate drainage, is moisture retaining, full of nutrients, easily cultivated and it warms up quickly in spring, but doesn’t dry out quickly in summer. Loamy soils require replenishing with organic matter regularly, and tend to be acidic.

Great for: Climbers. bamboos, perennials, shrubs and tubers such as Wisteria, Dog’s-tooth violets, Black Bamboo, Rubus, Delphinium. Most vegetable crops and berry crops will do well since loamy soil can be the most productive of soil types. However, loamy soil requires careful management to prevent depletion and drying out. Rotating crops, planting green manure crops, using mulches and adding compost and organic nutrients is essential to retain soil vitality.

Simple Tests to Help Determine Your Soil Type

The water test

Pour water onto your soil. If it drains quickly it is likely to be a sandy or gravelly soil, on clay soils the water will take longer to sink in.

Squeeze test

Grab a handful of soil and softly compress it in your fist.

  • If the soil is sticky and slick to the touch and remains intact and in the same shape when you let go it will be clay soil.
  • If the soil feels spongy it’s peaty soil; sandy soil will feel gritty and crumble apart.
  • Loamy and silty soils will feel smooth textured and hold their shape for a short period of time.

Settle test

Add a handful of soil to a transparent container, add water, shake well and then leave to settle for 12 hours.

  • Clay & silty soils will leave cloudy water with a layer of particles at the bottom.
  • Sandy soils will leave the water mostly clear and most of the particles will fall, forming a layer on the base of the container.
  • Peaty soils will see many particles floating on the surface; the water will be slightly cloudy with a thin layer at the bottom.
  • Soils that are chalky will leave a layer of whitish, grit-like fragments on the bottom of the container and the water will be a shade of pale grey.
  • If the water is quite clear with layered particles on the bottom of the container with the finest particle at the top – this soil is likely to be a loamy one.

Acid test

The standard pH for soils usually ranges between 4.0 and 8.5. Plants favor soil which has a pH between 6.5 and 7 because this is the level where nutrients and minerals naturally thrive. You can buy a pH test kit here, or from a local garden center. As a general rule, in areas with soft water you will have acid soil and hard water areas will tend to have alkaline soil.

Soil test kit

Use a soil test kit to assess primary nutrients (N-P-K) as well as pH levels. By testing your soil, you determine its exact condition so you can fertilize more effectively and economically. Soil should be tested periodically throughout the growing season.

How to make the most of your soil, whatever the type

Plants generally prefer neutral soil but it’s worth bearing in mind that some favor slightly acid or alkaline soils. Regardless of the pH of your soil it is possible to adjust the level slightly to make it more hospitable to the type of plants you want to grow. Remember this is only temporary, so it’s advised to make the most from the soil type you have.

Adding ground lime to your soil will make it more alkaline and aluminium sulfate or sulfur will help to make your soil more acidic.

If your soil is low in nutrients (like sandy soil), try supply it with organic matter such as compost and manure to enrich the soil and improve its texture. Use organic mulches such as straw, dried grass clippings and deciduous leaves. These mulches break down and incorporate into the soil, building a new supply of organic nutrients while improving the soil structure.

Clay soil is often not aerated enough and is deficient in good structure which makes it more difficult for successful growing. To get the most out of clay soil it’s best to add large quantities of well-rotted organic matter in the fall and peat a few weeks before planting. Greensand can also be used to loosen heavy clay soils or bind sandy soils.

It is often difficult to cultivate in chalky soil due to its alkaline nature. To help rectify this add bulky organic matter which breaks down over time, adding nutrients and minerals to the soil.

Make sure your soil is healthy.

It’s a good idea to regard your soil as living as your plants – it too needs food and water. Make sure it contains the three main nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) which are vital to growing plants effectively. Organic matter and fertilizers are rich in these.

After a crop is harvested the soil needs to be renewed before planting a successive crop. Many gardeners plant ‘green manure’ crops such as legumes, buckwheat, vetch and clover which fix nitrogen into the soil while building texture, improving aeration and drainage and adding organic matter. These cover crops are tilled in before they go to seed, and break down quickly so a new harvestable crop can be planted without much delay.

Crop rotation, green manures and cover crops, the use of mulch and the periodic addition of organic materials like compost and fertilizer are standard ways of restoring soil health after crop harvests. Rock phosphate, or rock dust, is also a valued amendment to restore phosphorus levels needed for vigorous plant growth.

If you can, introduce and encourage living organisms to your soil. The fungus Mycorrhize will aid your plants in the absorption of water and nutrients and worms will help speed up the composting process and help spread fertilizer through the soil.

When you first start out this can all seem very complicated but by identifying your soil type it will make the growing and maintaining of a healthy garden a lot easier. Remember, it’s well worth the trouble as your soil type is never going to change!

Garden beds
Source: Earth Easy
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

About the Author

Ruth Barton
This article has been written by Ruth Barton on behalf of William Morfoot, soil and land drainage experts with over fifty years’ experience in creating and maintaining healthy soils.

What type of soil do you have? How has this article helped you determine your soil type and how to amend it? What will you grow this year and how does your soil influence that?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

Posted on Leave a comment

Planning a Garden

By: Joseph Masabni
Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Photos & Table Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

A good plan is the first step in establishing a flourishing home vegetable garden. Planning includes selecting the garden location; deciding on the size of the garden; determining the types and varieties of vegetables to plant; and planning where, when, and how much of each vegetable to plant in the garden.

Site selection

  • Choose a place where the soil is loose, rich, level, and well-drained.
  • Do not choose low areas where water stands or the soil stays wet. Vegetables will not grow in poorly drained areas.
  • Do not plant where weeds do not grow; vegetables will not grow well there either.
  • Vegetables need sunlight to grow well. Do not plant where buildings, trees or shrubs will shade the garden. Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.
  • Do not plant vegetables under the branches of large trees or near shrubs because they rob vegetables of food and water.
  • Plant the garden near a water supply if possible. In many areas a garden can grow without watering, but it is more likely to be successful if it is irrigated. Water is needed especially during long dry periods or when planting seeds.
  • Few people have the perfect garden location, so look for the best spot possible. 

Figure 1. A successful garden begins with a good design.

Garden size

Making the garden too large is one of the most common mistakes of enthusiastic, first-time gardeners. A garden that is too large will be too much work. When determining the size of your garden, consider these factors:

  • Available room. For apartment dwellers, the garden may be a planter box. In a suburban or rural area, however, there may be plenty of ground space for a garden.
  • Available time. If the only time you have for gardening is after work or school, or on weekends, there may not be enough time to care for a large garden.
  • Family size. If gardening is a family activity, a large space can be cared for. A larger family also can use more vegetables.
  • Reason for gardening. If the garden is purely a recreational activity, a container or flower bed garden may be big enough. If you want to grow vegetables for canning or freezing, a bigger area is needed.
  • Types of vegetables to be grown. Some vegetables take a lot of room. Most need at least 3 feet of space between rows. If you want to plant ten rows of vegetables, the garden must be 30 feet wide.

Deciding what to grow

What to grow in the garden is as big a decision as where to locate it. Consider the following points in selecting vegetables:

Space available. Do not plant watermelons in a small garden. They take up too much room. Other vine crops such as cucumbers and cantaloupes can be grown in small gardens by trellising them on a fence some other structure.

Expected production from the crop. The smaller the garden, the more important it is to get high production from each row. Small, fast-maturing crops such as radishes, turnips and beets yield quickly and do not require much space. Tomatoes, bush beans, squash and peppers require more space but produce over a long season.

Cost of vegetables if purchased. Plant vegetables that are expensive to buy at the grocery store. Broccoli is usually one of the more expensive vegetables that can be grown in most home gardens.

Food value of vegetables. All vegetables are good, but some are more nutritious than others. Grow different kinds of vegetables to put more variety in your diet.

Personal preference. This is especially important if the garden is purely for recreation or personal enjoyment. Grow vegetables your family likes to eat.

vegetable choice

Location of vegetables in the garden

Arrange vegetables in a way that makes the most efficient use of space and light. Group tall vegetables such as okra, corn and tomatoes together on the north side of the garden where they won’t shade shorter vegetables such as bush beans. Also, group vegetables according to maturity. This makes it easier to replant after removing an early crop such as lettuce or beets (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Plant tall vegetables where they won’t shade shorter plants.

Plant small, fast-maturing vegetables between larger ones. Plant vine crops near a fence or trellis if possible.

Make a drawing on paper to show the location and spacing of vegetables in the garden (Fig. 3.)

Figure 3. A garden planting guide.

Timing of planting

Vegetables are divided into two general groups—warm season and cool season. Cool-season crops can stand lower temperatures; plant them before the soil warms in the spring. They also can be planted in late summer to harvest after the first frost in the fall.

Warm-season crops cannot tolerate frost and will not grow when the soil temperature is cool. Plant them after the last frost in the spring and early enough to mature before frost in the fall.

Temperature classification of some vegetables

season guide

How much to plant

Some vegetables produce more than others so fewer plants will be needed. The amount to plant depends on family size, expected production, and whether or not you plan to do any freezing or canning. Do not plant too much. Over-planting is wasteful and takes too much work.

Amount to Plant Per Person

amount per person

Where will you be growing your garden this year (State & City)? What will you be growing in your garden this year and why?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.