When you add a bit of compost to a sunny spot in your yard, you can grow tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, broccoli and just about any other vegetable. Vegetables don't need much in order to thrive and reward you with healthy, natural food for your dinner table. Your vegetable plants will be more productive and grow even better if you plant them next to other plants that they like. Companion planting has some scientific basis behind it, and planting vegetables near plants with similar needs makes sense.
Build garden beds for your vegetables that are no more than 4 feet wide by 8 or 12 feet long. Begin by sprinkling a line of white flour on the ground around the perimeter of your area to mark it. Then pull any weeds that are inside the area.
Spread a 3- or 4-inch layer of any type of organic compost over the soil in your marked area. Then dig it in with your shovel to a depth of 8 to 12 inches. You can also include other organic materials, such as peat moss, fallen leaves, grass clippings or wood chips.
Purchase bedding plants of many vegetables, especially if this will be your first gardening venture. When you plant them, dig small holes large enough for their roots in your prepared garden bed. Also be sure to make your planting holes the correct distance apart, depending on the type of vegetable you will be planting. Set the plants into the holes and cover them snugly with your soil-compost mixture.
Plant beans of all types in rows alternating with carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, spinach, beets or potatoes. Plant turnips and peas alternately in the same row.
Grow tomatoes near basil, mint, beans, asparagus, onions, lettuce and cucumbers. Keep your tomatoes away from corn, potatoes, cabbage and dill.
Plant all cabbage family plants, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and all the types of cabbage next to beets, celery, spinach, potatoes and onions. Keep your cabbage family plants at the opposite end of your garden from your tomatoes and beans.