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Thread: Raised bed Vs In ground planting

  1. #1
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    Default Raised bed Vs In ground planting

    I will be moving my garden soon and I'm trying to decide if redoing a raised bed is worth it or not. I've looked around the internet a bit and all I can really seem to find is opinions and the same stale facts. Has anyone done any side by side comparisons of raised bed/intensive gardening, Vs traditional in ground planting? I am already planning to plant two gardens side by side, using the same square footage and soil for both, I'm just trying to determine if Raised bed-intensive gardening is really worth the effort, or if it's just another internet fad that is overblown.
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  2. #2

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    It's a preference. They both work well. Depends on the amount of work you are willing to invest vs; how big your garden is and the kind of soil you are using. Soil Insect issues, if you plan to go organic or depend on chemicals to do the job. It's all up to you. The real advantage to raised beds is that it's easier on your back and it's easier to control weeds. The worth of either/or is all up to you.
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  3. #3
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    I have experimented with raised bed gardening for four years now. I did not do side by comparison, but I think that would be a great thing to try. My main reason for trying the raised beds was a lack of mobility in my right knee from a bad broken tibia, fibula and knee injury at the same time (my knee has since been fixed and works well again).

    I used free 1/2"x6" tongue and grove pine boards that came from a dumpster. I knew it wouldn't last for ever but it was free. I made five 8'x4'x3' boxes and ten 4'x4'x2' boxes. I lined the inside walls with black plastic and the bottoms with weed cloth so excess water could drain.

    After 4 years the boxes are past their prime. The first two years were great, the last two I had so much grass growing into them from the yard it was a nightmare.

    The good points I found are: the soil stays loose and easy to work, you can sit on a stool and plant and weed instead of kneeling or bending over, collecting you produce is easier also. Your plants will drain better if you get too much rain.

    The bad: The raised boxes might take more water in some climates. Once the grasses and weeds get in its hard to get them out. Wood rots. Ants seem to love raised beds this is a big problem for me.

    I am going to replace my wood raised beds with some made form old corrugated metal roofing (free), I am going to do more to stop the grass and weeds from getting in.

    I dont know if this helps or not, but I am not giving up on the raised bed gardening yet.

  4. #4
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    I think if you can grow anything in the ground do it. It will be cheaper for you. But for us I get better yields out of raised bed because the ground here is has a real hard clay pan. So even if you break it up it come back real fast, or everything gets washed away in the first rain storm we get. So for us raised beds have worked best.
    Vox Populi!

  5. #5
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    Oct 2009
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    my experience with both is not a side by side comparison, but might help a bit.

    first what i have done.

    Generally speaking I use raised beds for things I won't grow huge volumes of, plants that don't take huge amounts of space, things that I want to intensively care for with feed and water. Examples are kales, bell pepper, perpetual swiss chard, cucumbers, onions,kohlrabi, herbs,etc. These beds get lots of compost every fall and are mulched heavily in the spring when transplanting greenhouse started plants. I don't plant anything in the raised beds from seed. I never step in the bed itself to keep from compacting them and they are only worked with hand tools like a potato fork or broad fork. So they are manual labor intensive.

    I use 6" tall 30" wide raised beds with 22" paths which are just wide enough for my various garden carts. So that gives me about 60% of the total area for actually growing, but it also means you are only having to amend 60% of your soil.These beds all have drip irrigation. The garden is completely fenced with 10' tall fencing to keep out deer, but I also use that to grow cukes and other vineing plants on. I kinda follow the John Jeavons grow biointensive methods there but make more use of companion planting than that system typically does.

    Field grown crops are things like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, beans, field peas. These fields are worked with a tractor using a two bottom plow and 5 ft rototiller. I plant those using a gardenway walk behind seeder. I do no hand weeding on those fields. For sweet potatoes we lay down landscape fabric between the rows then mulch and then totally let them go for the season. For rows of beans I use a rototiller between the rows. Fertilizing is an issue in the field since you never know exactly where next years row is going so you have to pretty much fertilize the whole area or do side dressing after the plants emerge.

    I think one of the things preppers omit when it comes to growing food is that you have to grow calories. Bushels of green beans won't keep you alive. So we grow lots of pumpkin and root crops.

  6. #6
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    It's about all been covered, I like raised beds. I use railroad ties, and they last forever. I do notice the need for more water, but my biggest problem is tracking creosote into the house. The wife is less than happy about that. The railroad swaps out ties frequently on the one that brings the American made cars back from Mexico. They toss the old ones to the side, and someone, somehow, collects them and hauls them off. I'd like to get the contract for that. I look for the crew stacking them and loading onto trailer and go give them usually a $20 for 5-10 ties.

    Damn good fence corner posts also.
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  7. #7
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    Ok here's my two cents, I've done both and I had to hand turn my raised beds by hand with a shovel. I made 21 raised beds by myself because I had to. This was done on an old garden bed that had been hardpacked due to the fact that the property had been sitting vacant before I bought it. Back in the day when I was on welfare and food stamps.Never never use railroad ties because of the creosote they are treated with..you build your raised bed the correct way you wont have to use anything.. not boards nothing,, I never did,,mine were 3 feet wide ,, big enough for two people to walk spread out side by side with their fingertips touching. I just showed this to a lady who is soon to become my official mag partne and she was so excited when I showed her the difference between the row method taught by the seed companies and the wide bed/grid system of putting in a garden bed. Do not do not use railroad ties.. get rid of them, you want really high raised beds,, use rectangular straw bales,, they will hold the moisture and you can grow mushrooms around the borders of your beds and then break them down and use for mulch. Maybe to you it might be tedious but you cant do that with railroad ties.
    Or you can use cordwood .. stack it as high as you want your beds, then fill in with dirt, compost what have you. You can fill in between the pieces of wood with dirt and stick in herb transplants and you can sit on the wall as well.. eventually the wall will breakdown but it will add to your garden..
    The walkways is where you want to add your trimmings and newspaper and sawdust..where your feet go.. should be a narrow path,, the rest is grow space..also look up the French intensive gardening method.
    I put in 150 tomato plants my first year doing this and it was only one row..omg I had so much and then I got taught about pulling them all and tying in bundles to hang from the floor joists in the basement..

    can you imagine having them all produce to maximum ? you cant do that in row method..
    good luck
    I forgot to mention I did mulch all the beds with straw and side dressed with pulverized cow manure patties which I did by hand,, an old rag mop head on its handle and a three gallon bucket,, we collected cow patties at the neighbors farm in a couple laundry baskets in a radio flyer wagon and toted them down to our house several times a day.. all by hand..
    I did sugar snap peas, snow peas, bush beans, and three sisters corn beans and squash on wide raised beds,, mustard greens, dwarf red okra, cantaloupe, the one thing I didn't put in raised beds was cucumbers I rain them on trellises,, like for the peas but they were in rows on trellises..so there ya have my two cents.. hope it helps
    Last edited by silvergramma; 09-16-2016 at 11:56 AM.

  8. #8
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    Hello everyone, I'm new here and gardening is one of my favorite things to do. I have had raised beds and I've planted in the ground, but the best is my Back To Eden garden. You can find it on YouTube. It is a wonderful way to garden. I'm now retired and it's wonderful to have a garden that I don't have to water or weed. It really does work well.

    The only hassle is renewing the chips every year. I usually do that in the fall when it's cool. A ton of chips is still a ton, lighter than dirt so it's not too bad.

  9. #9
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    Been talking to hemp farmers out west and hear in tn. Exploring ideas of renewing industrial hemp.

    Here in tn the soil is Sandy clay, some of the farmers think it would be best to raise beds versus amending the soil.

    With organics and feeding/watering the plants it probably depends most on what your growing.
    Last edited by Alredneck; 10-23-2016 at 09:21 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alredneck View Post
    Been talking to hemp farmers out west and hear in tn. Exploring ideas of renewing industrial hemp.

    Here in tn the soil is Sandy clay, some of the farmers think it would be best to raise beds versus amending the soil.

    With organics and feeding/watering the plants it probably depends most on what your growing.

    It's for my vegitable garden, so there will be a variety of stuff being grown.
    The Normalcy Bias, do you suffer from it to?

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