Vegetable gardens can be any shape you desire. The easiest shape for novice gardeners to maintain is a rectangular garden. Orienting the garden so the length runs east to west allows your vegetables to receive the maximum sunlight possible. Rows that run north to south will cause some vegetables to be shaded by taller neighbors. Your garden can be any length you desire, but the width should be determined by how many 30-inch planting beds you want, plus 12 inches for each foot path and a 6-inch border on each side.
Prepare your garden soil for planting. Remove weeds and incorporate compost or other organic matter into the soil.
Start at one corner of your garden. Measure 6 inches into your garden from the edge and mark the spot. This is the far end of your first planting bed.
Measure 30 inches into the garden from the spot that marks 6 inches. Mark this spot. This gives you a 30-inch planting bed.
Measure 12 inches from the spot that marks the end of your first bed. This gives you 30-inch planting beds with 12-inch paths.
Continue measuring and marking 30-inch planting beds separated by 12-inch paths until you come to the far end of your garden. Leave another 6 inches between the edge of your garden and the closest planting bed. To make this work, you may have to make one bed or path slightly wider.
Decide how many rows you want in each planting bed. Three rows per planting bed is the max. Small vegetables like lettuces and carrots can go in the three rows. Larger plants like tomatoes will need two rows, and vining plants like squashes and pumpkins require one row right down the middle.
Measure a length of twine slightly longer than your planting beds. Tie the ends of the twine to two bamboo stakes. The bamboo stakes will mark the top and bottom of the row, while the string will give you the straight line.
Insert one of the 5-to-6 feet poles into the soil where you want your first row to be.
Insert the other 5-to-6 foot pole into the far end of the planting bed.
Line your eye up with the pole at the end of the planting bed. Move the pole around until you cannot see the pole at the top of the planting bed. When you have the poles adjusted so that you cannot see the pole at the head of the bed you have a straight line.
Place the bamboo stakes in the holes made by the poles stretching the twine the length of the row. Make sure the twine is taut.
Using a triangular head hoe make a shallow furrow directly under the twine.
Plant seeds or plants in the furrow.