No-plant, dig only vegetable garden

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I just love digging up vegetable beds and can’t think of anything better than spending an afternoon with my hands in the dirt, head in the sun and beer can in the hand.

Unfortunately, not every afternoon! hence last year’s vegetable crop was quantitatively very low.

I believe that lucrative distant distractions led me and my vegetables to have a geographically incompatible life style causing our once fluid relationship to wilt and become irregular and desiccating.  (Yes, my watering methods left a lot to be desired and in these sunny climes hot vegetables need TLC more than once a month).

Last year, I spent a fortune on seeds, seedlings, compost and various other soil enriching substances, all to no avail, hence this year I was determined to find a method which was compatible with my love of gardening and nocturnal remoteness.

I had already adopted the raised bed, reduced-watering method so this year I have decided to go even further and try to grow a vegetable garden without actually planting any vegetables.

A NO-PLANT, DIG ONLY vegetable garden. It may sound silly but I have done the sums and compared  to last year’s crop it is economically more efficient.


The first thing is to decide what vegetables not to plant, and where not to plant them. I have decided not to plant cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and zucchini in two of the four raised beds. I’m not sure what to do with the other two raised beds but if I get time I may try to not grow sweet peas in them.

 Prepare the soil

Soil preparation for a NO-PLANT, DIG ONLY vegetable garden is no different to a traditional one, remove all the weeds and gently turn over the soil. Then use a rake to make it look nice.

Planting Tomatoes.

Tomatoes are best planted in rows with a distance of 30-40cm between each plant and 60cm between rows. Hence take your stakes and plant them in the ground at the recommended distances. Attach an old tomato seed packet on every stake (at approximately 10cm from ground level) and make sure the photo faces towards the outside of the raised bed.

Use the above planting method for the cucumbers, lettuce and zucchini or any other plant you decide not to plant. (Note: Plant and row distances will vary)
As you can see from the image at the start of this article , at this early stage the NO-PLANT vegetable garden looks more or less like a tradition seed based vegetable garden. This will continue to be true until the seeds don’t sprout into plants.


Again there is no real need to add any compost, the NO-PLANT method guarantees the exact same results with or without. If you do decide to add some compost then I suggest using fresh natural cow manure as it will add to the essence.


Last year, after the seeds sprouted I had a few problems trying to sort out the real plants from the weeds, the one big advantage of the NO-PLANT method is that you can weed at will. Just dig out anything that doesn’t look like soil.


Although not strictly necessary for the NO-PLANT vegetable garden, I recommend some light irrigation between mid-July to mid-august, it is good fun, refreshing and will keep your neighbours guessing.


unlike the more quantitative plant driven vegetable garden, if nothing grows then the no-plant garden will have met its objectives and you won’t feel disappointed.


In these days of austerity and global economic crisis, vegetable patch theft is becoming common, the no-plant method is guaranteed to dissuade any would be carrot thief, both the two or four legged kind. This is achieved without the need of any electronic fence or intruder detector system, again saving you lots of money on vegetable security.

Note: The NO-PLANT, DIG ONLY method is BIO but not very LOGICAL.

PS: A chance meeting with two bearded journalists (one of whom in disguise) contributed to the making of this article.


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Frank Viviano
Frank Viviano

Wow! A disguise. Sure had me fooled. That guy really looked like Keane. Anyhow, those interested in Deety’s no-plant garden may also want to investigate Mario Monti’s no-sex prime ministership and la Gaia’s no-water water bills — which in one case (mine) have been higher during the client’s absence than the sums charged when water was actually in use. Miraculo!