tomatolover
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What's best? Raised bed or non-raised bed garden?

what is better a raised bed or a non raised bed?

Susan W
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Easy answer, well maybe with lots more maybes. What is your situation and projected end outcome. Putting in 6 tomato plants or some herbs perhaps raised bed. A mess of corn takes space.

tomatolover
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I don't know yet thats why I need to know what I can but in raised beds and non raised beds

DoubleDogFarm
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I can't think of any vegetable that cares if it's grown on a raised bed versus a flat plane.

Fertility, compaction, soggy soils and maybe Ph are issues to take into consideration.

Eric

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jal_ut
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How much space are you talking? What are you wanting to grow? I don't have much experience with raised beds. From my youth the "garden" was a corner of the wheat field where Dad would plant corn and veggies. Perhaps it got fertilized with some barnyard manure in the fall. I think a good question is: Do you have some space with the native ground there? If so it may be best to just garden in what you have, and enrich it with the addition of a few things.

I like what Eric says.

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Allyn
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I agree with Eric. The plants don't care as long as it's suitable to accommodate them. For myself, personally, raised beds are better. I can't get down on the ground (well, I can but getting back up becomes a major problem), kneeling is out of the question, I have drainage problems on the property (it gets so wet, I have crawfish living in the yard) and the soil here would take a major undertaking to get it suitable for planting. So considering mobility concerns and having better control over the quality of the growing medium, raised beds are better for me.

The plants don't care. Which would be better for you?

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rainbowgardener
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Depends on your soil. The main point of a raised bed is so that you can create your own soil. If the soil you have is hard, clay, rocky, very sandy, etc. it is very hard to amend it sufficiently to make a thriving garden. Over a few years you can, if you work hard at it. But if you are impatient, you can just build a raised bed and fill it with perfect soil for what you are growing.

If you happen to be blessed with good loamy garden soil, then there's not so much reason to do a raised bed. There can still be some advantages-- easier to have your soil loose to a good depth, which is especially important for things like carrots, raises your working surface, gives you a defined bed that you don't walk on, so the soil isn't compacted, etc.

You can box it in, which just helps keep the soil mix you created in place, but you don't have to. You can just make mounds. Here is where size of your garden makes a big difference. If you have hundreds of square feet of garden, you aren't likely to put it in boxes. Boxed beds are for city backyard gardeners. Mounds is easier for larger gardens. And of course few people are going to work on raising fields/ farms. It is easy to mounds, aka raised rows, just by digging out the topsoil from what will become the paths and piling on to what will be the raised rows.

imafan26
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What do you want to grow? How good is your soil?
I don't have a single large garden. I do take care of three different gardens that have different conditions. I do have a raised bed garden at home. It came with the house and it was someone's attempt at a rock garden. Formerly, there was a mango tree in the location. I found the stump rotting in the bed when we were amending it. It is not a big garden so I plant smaller closer spaced plants in it, but keep the larger plants that would hog the limited space in containers in the yard.
A raised bed can be good for someone who has problems bending because if they build it the right height they can garden standing or sitting on the edge. Raised beds also make it easier to grow root vegetables which might not do well in the ground especially if you have hard clay soil and not a sandy loam. If your soil is not very good or drainage is an issue, raised beds are a better choice. For some people even a raised bed might still be a little too much to take on if they are new to gardening or they don't have a "yard" to speak of. The trick with containers is to make sure you use potting soil, not garden soil or dirt, and that they are well drained, fertilized and you water regularly, unless you are using a self watering container, in which case you just have to make sure the reservoir stays full. With containers bigger is usually better and easier to manage.

If you want to grow space hogs like corn, squash, watermelons, and you have good garden soil that just needs some amending and fertilizer, then an in ground garden works fine.

There are many ways to garden. You should choose the type of garden that suits your needs for the kind of soil you
have, what you want to grow and what makes it easier for you to garden.

Just start small until you gain more experience and add on later. Raised beds are best no wider than 4 ft with access all the way around so you don't have to climb into the bed and around 10 ft long so you can easily get to the other side. For anything that fruits or flowers you want to have as much full sun as possible and south facing if possible.

In ground you will need to have wider rows unless you do wide row gardening and provide pathways for harvesting and cultivating.

Containers go wherever there is space. They can be moved if need be on a dolly. This comes in handy. When plants are small I can pack the containers side by side, but with things like cucumbers, beans, tomatoes and squash, they need more space and air circulation as they get bigger so I can move the smaller plants somewhere else to give them more room. It is best to move big containers on a dolly or space them out at least 3 ft to start with and put smaller pots in between them because if you have to move something, it is easier to move the smaller stuff. Containers means that the plants will be totally dependent on you to provide a well drained soil, fertilizer and water so you can't go away for a week and think they will do o.k. If you need a trellis you can still put a trellis in or around a pot.

tomc
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Inasmuch as the original poster has not returned in four years. This may not be a burning issue to him. With that said.

Living as I do on Ohio clay, a raised bed is a way to improve drainage on bed sized bits without needing to install drainage tiles or other interventions that need power-tools.

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applestar
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^^^
What tomc said. :D

I have subsoil clay also -- some areas are so bad that if you peel the sod off, there may be 1-2 inches of what could be called soil, then solid pack clay underneath. Working organic matter into all that is nearly futile, but sheet mulching beds and rows and scraping up every bit of (top)soil from the paths onto raised mounds for growing, and then mulching the paths with cardboard and/or woody materials like tree clippings and corn stalks, weeds, etc. to be trampled into the mud and decompose and turn into compost/soil for the season ...to be scraped up again when the beds are prepared..., etc. (I think there's another latin that could be used here something infinitum?)

For my area where we have summer drought, this also works well because the clay based paths act as swales to puddle the rare rain as well as precious irrigation water, then soak it up and sequester the moisture. Mulching the paths not only keeps down the weeds but hold that moisture and protects the feeder roots that venture out underneath from trampling.

In addition, I find that a lot of heat loving summer crops don't do well in the ground, and I'm thinking it's because the clay soil stays too cool when our typical overnight summer temperatures are mid- to upper 60's. The raised loose mounds heat up more to warm up the roots zone and encourage them to grow better.

In large areas where possible, I have been trying to alternate the growing raised mounds with the paths. I leave all the roots that have delved down to the clay pan and infiltrated it in the ground to break down as organic matter by simply lopping the finished plants at soil level. Once the bed/row has been planted for a season or two, especially with tall-growing deep rooted crops, the workable soil underneath is considerable deeper. So I find myself digging up and scraping up more soil from under previously raised mounds and digging myself a deeper trench/path/swale. All that needs to be leveled or I end up with clay lined bath tubs. And this way, I distribute the good stuff over the entire area.

Susan W
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Long informative discussions on a question from 2012?! Subject is relevant of course for gardening, especially those of us with limited space, but .....

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applestar
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True... But the thread has been viewed over 1000 times, so the subject matter is of on-going interest. Might as well stir up a fresh discussion. Eh?

And over the years, we all accumulate additional experience that may change or add to our perspective. :wink:

HoneyBerry
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I did some reading a while back about raised bed gardening. One key factor that stood put for me was that raised garden beds have warmer soil than non-raised. Apple does point that out in her post as well. I am curious to know how much warmer, but I'm sure that it varies from one garden to the next.

tomc
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BirdLover wrote:I am curious to know how much warmer.
It will be 10F or less degrees warmer. Of more import to opening the gardening season a raised bed makes the soil dryer.

Taiji
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beds.JPG
I thought I was gardening in raised beds for years until I joined the garden forum. Then, I realized when most people talk about raised beds they were speaking of something enclosed on the sides by wood, or blocks or something to hold the earth in. So, now I just say I garden in beds if I'm asked, which I never am asked. :) I just make beds, (or wide rows) by turning with a spading fork and adding amenities. So the result I guess is not really any different than if I had run a tiller thru the area, kind of fluffing up the soil. I just leave wide walkways between. By the end of the season, the beds have sunk down some, but not to the level of the surrounding soil. I usually plant a cover crop on the "beds" for the winter then turn it under in spring.

Sometimes I wonder if in this dry hot climate if I shouldn't be gardening in trenches instead. No problem here with getting the soil dried out or getting it heated up!

I started gardening this way from watching the Victory Garden with Roger Swain years ago, and saw how they were doing it. I just thought, well, that looks cool; looks like a good idea. Four foot wide beds by whatever length is convenient. But I didn't really know why I was doing it!

These beds in this photo are brand new, the digging was difficult! But as was mentioned, it gets deeper and softer every year.

I think the deer are coming and cropping off this grass. I guess I'm going to have to fence. I was hoping I wouldn't have to. :(

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rainbowgardener
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That's what I would call raised rows. Perfectly effective and if you have a lot of garden space, it is silly to try to box it all in. Boxed beds are for backyard gardeners with small gardens. The only reason for boxing in, is it allows you to raise it deeper and to build your own soil, regardless of what is under it. Where I recently moved from, I had two raised bed boxes sitting on top of concrete patio, since the patio was the main garden space I had.

imafan26
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A raised garden does not have to be enclosed, it can be open with just the soil hilled up. It is the easiest and least expensive raised bed to make. Most people do build raised beds out of wood, concrete, bricks , or stones and it is more like a giant container garden.

The reason I like raised beds was because I started off with very compacted clay soil. I built mine out of dry laid tile because it required very little skill. and 2 tiles high was 16 inches deep. I could sit on the side of the bed to work it and at 16 inches, I could grow some root plants like daikon. I don't plant too many carrots because it is not that easy for me to grow and it is cheap to buy. I grow a lot of herbs since they are expensive to buy, taste better fresh, and the Asian herbs are not always that easy to find. I have pandan, ginger, turmeric, Jamaican oregano, lemon grass, rakkyo, garlic chives, and green onions. I aslo have citrus trees, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers in pots.

In my community garden, I do in ground planting. I have pathways between the beds but the beds are not raised because the soil is soft and well drained.



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