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14

In How to Grow More Vegetables, John Jeavons claims you can sustain one person on 4,000 sf (372 m²), with 60% of that space dedicated to interplanted grains and legumes. The rest of the space would be taken up by high calorie root crops (30%) and vegetables (10%). That's with high soil fertility and in a climate with at least a six month growing season, so ...


13

You should figure out why you have so many flies in the first place. If they are reproducing indoors, addressing that source would be far more effective than plants. If they are coming in from the outside, plants might not be your answer either. They are likely to "lure in" as many new flies as they eat, giving you no net benefit. But if you are bent on ...


12

A forest of old trees sequesters more carbon per year than a forest with the same quantity of young trees. When I first saw this question I thought I knew the answer -- trees grow faster when they're young, therefore they sequester carbon at a higher rate. When I went looking for the data to back this up, I found that this is still a somewhat controversial ...


10

Jon Seymour, in his book The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency, mentions that 5 acres (about 2 hectares) of good quality, well drained land could sustain a family of 6 persons. The answer to the question will partly depend on whether or not one chooses to consume meat and dairy products and whether or not the land should also provide timber for energy. ...


9

Ecologists refer to this as 'gross productivity' and define it to be dry weight plant matter per area per year. In temperate climates this is likely to be a grass. Switchgrass has been proposed as a bio feedstock, both because it's highly productive, and the plant pulls most of the necessary trace nutrients back into the roots in fall. Poplar and willow ...


8

That very much depends on how good a gardener you are. At least the following factors come into play soil fertility weather (esp. sun & rain) length of planting season I remember a quote from Bill Morrison I heard from a recorded lecture that, with permaculture methods, one can sustain a family (2 adults, 2 children) on 50m² (with around 2 hours of ...


7

As with virtually anything in Permaculture the answer is going to be, "It depends." What resources do you have on hand? What are you willing to do? Are you wanting a fix for "right now" or are you wanting something more long term? The answer, in general, is going to be compost. Depending upon how it's made, what is in it and where it's from that's ...


7

In my experience plants suffer in the long term from accumulation of salts in the soil, so fresh water would be better than reusing the water. Even better would be to get hold of fresh rain water (tricky in an apartment though, unless perhaps you have a balcony that gets rained on) for watering them, as that won't contain the salts that tap water does. More ...


7

You cannot possibly keep up with the fly population with carnivorous plants. Your typical venus flytrap will handle 2-3 flies a month. I raised carnivorous plants as a kid. Managed to get my flytraps to bloom and produce seed. In fall I would catch 30-40 flies, and freeze them for winter use. HI is correct. Some of the largest ones could handle a fly,...


7

As LShaver writes, larger trees sequester more carbon than smaller trees, but only if they are still growing. In a "fully-grown" forest (as per the title) that process has ended — decay and regrowth are in equilibrium. Fully-grown forests are carbon-neutral. All of them. The Amazon rainforest — all 5,500,000km² of it — is carbon neutral. If you plant a ...


6

One way to look at it to compare like with like is to look at the photosynthetic efficiency since carbon is fixed through photosynthesis. By this measure, sugar cane comes on top, converting about 8% of the incomming sunlight energy into stored carbon energy.


6

Figures for land area have been stated, it is perhaps important to consider where that land is, its inherent soil quality and type, inclination towards the sun, altitude and longitude, precipitation - or available atmospheric moisture to be extracted - and short, medium and long term long term climate conditions. That's one heck of a lot of variables to ...


6

True sustainability is not dependent on outside sources. Try to learn the art of coppicing for fire wood, along with growing self propagating plants such as black locust which grows fast and produces more saplings along the root system and then can be cut for wood within a year or two. You would not need to purchase trees often once the coppice method is ...


4

The best option, as you probably know, would be to grow a cover crop right after your main crop. The cover crop should have a mix of plants that produce nutrients and biomass. Generally, this means a mix of legumes and grains. I like to use fava, oats or wheat and an annual vetch. The cover crop should be left on for the winter, then dug in to the soil in ...


4

There are some differences between fertilizing shrubs and other plants, generally, and between different individual shrubs. But one thing I've noticed is that in your question, the plants you listed were: Flowers Ginger Onions Chili Which are, for the most part, annuals or herbaceous perennials, not so much shrubs, although there are some shrubs in the ...


4

Well, I know the question is more about outdoor plants (Trees) but I found a Wiki page on NASA's study about Indoor plants, which help remove toxic agents like benzene, ammonia etc. from air. NASA Clean Air Study has the details.


4

Plant bamboo. Its also an excellent biofuel. Pines and evergreens collect pollutants on their leaves/spines/firs but are unable to drop them and assist in decomposition. this is why the bottom of a pine forest is always devoid of other plants. Bamboo is an excellent "growth" plant in terms of CO2 absorption as well as allowing pollutants to biodegrade within ...


4

Trees have a finite life span. Commercially apples and pears are usually replaced after about 40 years. A private tree isn't under the same pressure to produce, so it can be used for a longer period. Removing the tree is difficult, especially the stump. Sustainably you could cut it flush, let it rot, use the top for firewood. Move over a few feet to ...


4

The short answer is no, not anywhere close to 200ppm and not appreciably lower than ambient conditions. The modern standard for buildings is a full air change every three hours. This means your houseplants would need to achieve your target level on a full house volume of air every three hours. There is no practical arrangement which will achieve this. ...


3

Recycling water is always a good initiative, but there is one golden rule: You MUST avoid re-use it in a "circle", because of the accumulation of minerals and chemicals. Always think of a "chain" when re-using water. For example: use potable water for drinking and cooking. Water left from cooking: use to make sauce. Taking a shower/bath can be done with ...


3

Sundew Plants When I was a teenager I grew a lot of Sundew plants. To give you a good idea of the usefulness of these, I can say they can catch tiny flies (fruit flies, perhaps, and smaller) and perhaps mosquitoes but they won't catch larger house flies. I don't think their efficiency would be high enough to make a noticeable difference. They managed to ...


3

I found this article regarding lawns. It suggests that lawns could be regarded as carbon sinks only if they are not (frequently) mowered, and do not use pesticedes. Also: An acre of established temperate forest can hold from 2,000 lbs. up to 6,000 or more lbs. of carbon per year, depending on the age of the trees and other conditions. Mature ...


3

Since grass and switchgrass already been mentioned; Hemp and Paulownia tree may be the alternative answer. They are among the fastest growing plants. For hemp, one unit land area of hemp(s) can produces as much cellulose as 4 unit land area of trees.


3

The reason for concern is that winter damage is usually via drying, and in newly transplanted shrubs, the roots (because of the transplanting) are structurally damaged and cannot hydrate the plant as efficiently as an established root system. Your plants, being in the ground since April, and having put out a good amount of new growth, show that the plant ...


3

Growing plants inside to consume CO2 will need a huge energy input. If your plants are indoors behind a huge window with long sun exposure, then it is ok. If you intend to provide artificial light to them, then it won't be environmentally sustainable at all: your light input will need so much energy and reject so much CO2... Anyway, this set aside, a good ...


3

Depending on the size (esp height) of your growing spacec. One of the following would work: willow (Salix spp), elephant grass (Miscanthus fuscu), or as @JChomel mentions, bamboo. Willow is especially useful as it can grow in ground that is saturated for much of the time. Occasional flooding with the human waste would be less of an issue. It makes an ...


2

Gingko Biloba has high pollution tolerance! (speaking from a biology perspective, it's also my favorite)


2

Many Aquaponic farmers will grow duckweed to supplement the food they provide to the fish. Since they are interested in the fish waste to feed the plants, the duckweed will not grow fast enough to be the only thing to feed to the fish. I am in the phase of my aquaponics project where we are just getting the Nitrate and Nitrite levels to start to increase. ...


2

As a side note to the accepted answer (I don't have enough reputation to comment), most, if not all, of the plants on the NASA list are poisonous to cats and dogs. So if you have animals to worry about as well, choose wisely. Aside from that it is a great list. Edit: I have found a page saying that a spider plant is good for cleaning the air and is non-...


2

Generally, to compare two choices from a sustainability viewpoint you want to identify how much non-renewable resources are being used by either option, or how much pollution is created. Since you often don't know this kind of information from products you buy, you either need to do research and/or do some guesswork. In this answer I'll make various ...


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