Growing Vegetables For A Beginner

The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. – George Bernard Shaw

When the holidays are over and a new year begins, I look forward to spring. It doesn’t matter that it is over 2 months away.  Spring is my favorite time of year.  In most of the country, winter is a “downtime” in the garden. During those months, you have time to consider what you want to add or change in your garden. I always start with a piece of paper and a rough drawing of my yard.  It’s never to scale but it helps me plan what projects I’m doing this year.  Are you growing vegetables or making a raised bed?  Adding to the shrubs or trees that form your basic landscape? Winter is the time to dream and plan.

Check out my older post, Gardening Guide With Printables. I made a basic grid that you can use to draw and plan.  You can figure each grid to be a certain size and draw circles where you are adding plants or putting in a new bed.  Number your additions and fill in the name of plants on the second page of the Plan or Project Sheet. All printables sized for 8.5″ x 11″.

Have you every tried to grow vegetables? Growing your own vegetables has numerous benefits, including providing you with fresh, healthy produce that is free from pesticides and other chemicals. It can also save you money on your grocery bill and reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating the need for transportation. Additionally, gardening can be a relaxing and therapeutic hobby that allows you to connect with nature and get some exercise.

If you’re looking to add some fresh produce to your home garden, let’s consider the basic requirements.

I. Choose Garden Location

Choose a location with at least 6 hours of sun as vegetables do not grow in the shade. The spot should also be close to your water source. If you’re a beginner, start small with a 6′ x 6′ space. That garden size will keep you busy learning to grow vegetables without being overtaxed by a huge size. Remove all grass, weeds, or plants. Supplement the soil with compost. Select up to 5 vegetables to try and plant a few of each. If you live with limited yard space or no yard at all, check out container gardening. If you have a balcony, porch, or deck with lots of sun, you can grow vegetables there. The Spruce has lots of information in Vegetable Container Gardening For Beginners.

If you are a beginner at growing vegetables and you enjoy videos, check out Scott Head’s Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Vegetable Garden.

II. Choosing Vegetables To Plant

The next step is choosing your veggies. Grow what you love to eat. Make a list of your favorite produce. Check your list against Easiest Vegetables To Grow, 10 Best Crops for Beginners at Homes & Garden. #1 is the little radish which is not only easy but also fast to grow. You can have radishes from seeds in about 3 to 4 weeks. #2 is green beans which are versatile, delicious and generous yielders. Beans are ready to harvest in about 60 days. The added bonus is they can grow in poor soil and actually add nitrogen to the soil. The rest of the list includes kale, beets, hardy herbs, tomatoes, Swiss chard, squash, carrots, and lettuce.

Review the easiest veggies and look up favorites that are not on the list using Burpee‘s Companion Planting Guide. It’s a secret every gardener learns. Plants are happiest with companion plants that complement their needs. Sometimes it’s not the location but what is next to a plant that makes the difference.

III. Companion Gardening

Grow the right plants together and you can reap benefits:

  • Certain plants act as insect repellents or deter critters. For example, garlic’s smell is unappealing to many pests.
  • Some plants also attract beneficial insects. For example, borage attracting pollinating bees and tiny pest-eating wasps.
  • Large plants provide shade for smaller plants in need of sun protection. For example, corn shades lettuce.
  • Tall plants, like corn and sunflowers, can support lower-growing, sprawling crops such as cucumbers and peas.
  • When one plant absorbs certain substances from the soil, it may change the soil biochemistry in favor of nearby plants.
  • Some crops, like beans, peas, and other legumes, help to improve soil quality
  • Sprawling crops can prohibit weed formation

Companion Planning Guide

PlantPlant CompanionsPlant AlliesPlant Enemies
AsparagusBasil, parsley, tomatoPot marigold deters beetles. 
BeansBeet (to bush beans only), cabbage family, carrot, celery, chard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, pea, potatoes, radish, strawberry.Marigold deters Mexican bean beetles. Nasturtium and rosemary deter bean beetles. Summer savory deters bean beetles, improves growth and flavor.Garlic, onion and shallot stunt the growth of beans.
BeetsBush beans, cabbage family, lettuce, onion.Garlic improves growth and flavor.Pole beans and beets stunt each other’s growth.
CarrotsBean, lettuce, onion, pea, pepper, radish, tomato.Chives improve growth and flavor. Rosemary and sage deter carrot fly.Dill retards growth.
CeleryBean, cabbage family and tomato.Chives and garlic deter aphids. Nasturtium deters bugs and aphids. 
ChardBean, cabbage family and onion  
CornBean, cucumber, melon, parsley, pea, potato, pumpkin, squash.Odorless marigold and white geranium deter Japanese beetles. Pigweed raises nutrients from the subsoil to where the corn can reach them.Tomatoes and corn are attacked by the same worm.
CucumberBean, cabbage family, corn, pea, radish, tomatoMarigold deters beetles. Nasturtium deters aphids, beetles and bugs, improves growth and flavor. Oregano deters pests in general. Tansy deters ants, beetles, bugs, flying insects.Sage is generally injurious to cucumber.
EggplantBean, pepper.Marigold deters nematodes. 
LettuceBeet, cabbage family, carrot, onion, radish, strawberry.Chives and garlic deter aphids. 
MelonsCorn, pumpkin, radish, squash.Marigold deters beetles. Nasturtium deters bugs and beetles. Oregano provides general pest protection. 
OnionsBeet, cabbage family, carrot, chard, lettuce, pepper, strawberry, tomato.Chamomile and summer savory improve growth and flavor. Pigweed raises nutrients from subsoil and makes them available to the onions. Sow thistle improves growth and health.Onions stunt bean, pea.
ParsleyAsparagus, corn, tomato  
PeasBean, carrot, corn, cucumber, radish, turnip.Chives deter aphids. Mint improves health and flavor.Garlic and onion stunt the growth of peas.
PeppersCarrot, eggplant, onion and tomato  
PotatoesBeans, cabbage family, corn, eggplant, pea.Horseradish, planted at the corners of the potato patch, provides general protection. Marigold deters beetles.Tomatoes and potatoes are attacked by the same blight.
PumpkinsCorn, melon, squash.Marigold deters beetles. Nasturtium deters bugs, beetles. Oregano provides general pest protection. 
RadishesBean, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, melon, pea.Chervil and nasturtium improve growth and flavor.Hyssop
SpinachCabbage family, strawberry  
SquashCorn, melon, pumpkin.Borage deters worms, improves growth and flavor. Marigold deters beetles. Nasturtium deters squash bugs and beetles. Oregano provides general pest protection. 
StrawberryBean, lettuce, onion, spinach, thyme.Cabbage.Borage strengthens resistance to insects and disease. Thyme, as a border, deters worms.
TomatoesAsparagus, carrot, celery, cucumber, onion, parsley, pepper.Basil repels flies and mosquitoes, improves growth and flavor. Bee balm, chives and mint improve health and flavor. Borage deters tomato worm, improves growth and flavor. Dill, until mature, improves growth and health. Once mature, it stunts tomato growth. Marigold deters nematodes. Pot marigold deters tomato worm and general garden pests.Corn and tomato are attacked by the same worm. Mature dill retards tomato growth. Kohlrabi stunts tomato growth. Potatoes and tomatoes are attacked by the same blight.
Cabbage Family (Broccoli, Brussels SproutsCabbageCauliflowerChinese CabbageKale, and Kohlrabi)Beet, celery, chard, cucumber, lettuce, onion, potato, spinach.Chamomile and garlic improve growth and flavor. Catnip, hyssop, rosemary and sage deter cabbage moth. Dill improves growth and health. Mint deters cabbage moth and ants, improves health and flavor. Nasturtium deters bugs, beetles, aphids. Southernwood deters cabbage moth, improves growth and flavor. Tansy deters cabbageworm and cutworm. Thyme deters cabbageworm.Kohlrabi and tomato stunt each oth
Companion Planting Guide via Burpee

When selecting your first vegetables to grow, look at each plant’s requirements. For example, garlic has a strong scent that deters many insects. Aphids (which affect more than 400 plants) can’t stand garlic. Garlic also repels onion flies, ermine moths, and Japanese beetles. Plant between rows of potatoes, alongside lettuces and cabbages and near fruit trees.

While there are many vegetables to choose from, let’s start with potatoes. Potatoes like growing with:

  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Oregano
  • Peas

If you want to grow potatoes, we can add one or two companions from the list. Potatoes and garlic are two popular options that are easy to grow, have health benefits and you can pair them together to make garlic red mashed potatoes recipe.. 

Both red potatoes and garlic need plenty of water to grow properly. Since garlic is typically planted in the fall, about two months before the first frost, it can be planted with late potatoes or toward the end of the potatoes growing season. Garlic prefers full sun and should be planted in rows that are spaced about 6 inches apart. If you are planting potatoes in the spring or summer, be sure to add companion plants from the list, like beans or oregano.


In conclusion, if you want to add vegetables to your garden, plan your garden this winter. Use printables to help you draw your proposed vegetable garden. Choose the spot and get your garden plot ready. Enrich the soil. Make a list of vegetables you want to grow and read each plants requirements. Use companion planting for greater success. Happy Gardening!

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

5 thoughts to “Growing Vegetables For A Beginner”

  1. Every year I try to grow vegetables and don’t do too bad considering I don’t see myself as a great gardener. Last year I got tomatoes and pumpkins, this year I am planning on the same as well as peppers, peas and beetroot. Great tips and advice.

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