I like to get some seed catalogs sent to me so I can kind of plan what I want to plant even if I don't buy from the catalog company. I like to buy heirloom seed and heirloom plants when possible. Heirloom seeds are different from regular seed because regular seeds are usually hybrid. Hybrid means you cannot save the seed and use it again and get the same kind of results. Some people have issue with hybrids and genetically modified or altered produce. Heirlooms go on and on from saved seed. You get what you plant year after year from a single seed saved.
One way to get started with heirloom seeds is to buy heirloom vegetables and try them. If you like them buy them again and save the seed to plant the following year. Its fun and it makes your seed saving worthwhile. Some things that are heirloom cannot be procured through the fruit or vegetable itself, you must get the seed then let at least one of the plantings go to flower then seed can be saved. Like collards, chard, basil, etc.
Store bought heirloom seeds:
Whatever you decide to plant, set your seed in containers of composted earth indoors in about February or March depending on your zone. Keep it moist and put it in a sunny location. As soon as the days are sunny you can set you containers outside during the day and bring it in at night. As soon as danger of frost is over you can set your containers out all night to harden it off before planting in the ground.
Whatever you decide to plant remember don't plant more than you will preserve for a years needs and don't forget to include the amount you want to give to family and friends, eat fresh and I always try to remember that not all my plantings will survive transplant or maybe will die mid season from some unknown issue.
Where to plant is always something to consider. I plant in a large tilled area that is enriched every year with livestock manure, hay/straw and compost. I have areas of my garden that do not produce as well as other areas of my garden so I concentrate on enriching those areas particularly. However, if you do not have an area that can be used in a traditional garden you can plant enough vegetables in planters, flower beds and even pots to supplement your diet and lessen your grocery bill.
Some folks have really been inventive and planted vertical beds by using all kinds of things. Here are some two liter bottles hung with twine ! A few cup hooks conveniently put in a 2X4 mounted on the side of a house or hanging from your balcony for a beautiful herb garden!
Below is a variety of containers but most noticeably are the buckets stacked one on the other and growing large variety vegetables, what a great idea! That would be suitable for a balcony, patio or smaller back yard.
Square foot gardening for those that have some room but not a lot can be the answer. You can get so many vegetables from such a small area that you just can't imagine! Here are some examples of square foot gardening.
Here is a sample plan:
Some areas have restrictions on planting so you really have to get creative to include food in your flower beds, but it can be done.
Whatever type of garden you feel meets your needs and your personal preferences you will have the satisfaction of knowing you planted, weeded, watered, watched the progress and finally were able to pick the fruits of your labors. The first time you sit down to the dinner table and realize that every bit of the produce (and maybe even the protein) came right out of your own garden you will get the most satisfying feeling you have ever had! Knowing that you can provide for your families food needs is really something that makes you feel good.