When you decide to plant a garden, you have a lot of options. You could till up the ground and plant a traditional garden. You could buy a large assortment of buckets and start a container garden. Or you could follow one of the most popular current trends and plant a raised bed garden. So which is best?
It really just depends on where you live and how much work you want to put into your garden. Raised bed gardening is al the rage these days because it helps insure the best chances for a successful crop. You are starting out with high quality soil rather than tilling up the ground that has questionable quality dirt. There’s no need for repeated soil testing and treatments. Plus raised bed gardens are beautiful.
However, there are some drawbacks to consider as well. Raised bed gardens take a lot of work and they can require a lot more start up costs, especially during your first year. Let’s look at to pros and cons of raised bed gardening and then you can decide if this method is a good choice for you.
Pros of Raised Bed Gardening
Location is one of the biggest advantages of planting your vegetable garden in a raised bed. Because you aren’t limited to soil quality of the ground, you can place your garden anywhere you want. You can even do multiple beds to divide out your crops and then use the best soil for each particular plant. Some people use one bed for vegetables, another for herbs, and another for flowers. It’s really up to you.
Raised bed gardens are also easier to maintain. You can build them up as high as you like, so you can avoid some of the bending and stooping that makes gardening such back breaking labor. Because the garden is a little higher off the ground and filled with potting soil, it will warm up faster and you can plant a little earlier. You can oftentimes enjoy a longer growing season when working from a raised bed.
Finally, raised bed gardens are better if you have a lot of rabbits and squirrels in your yard that like to feast on your plants. By keeping the garden higher off the ground, you limit the animals’ ability to have easy access.
Cons of Raised Bed Gardening
So far, raised bed gardening sounds like the best way to go, but there are also some cons to consider. First and probably most importantly is the cost factor. Building a raised bed garden can get expensive, especially if you want to grow a large number of crops. You will need to buy materials to actually frame out the garden and then you need to buy fertile soil to fill it up.
You will have to plan carefully to insure that your plants have enough room to grow and thrive. You can’t let them spread wildly along the sides because your garden is off the ground and there is no more room for them to continue growing. Finally, keep in mind that raised bed gardens drain more effectively so you will have to water them more often. Depending on the size of your beds, you might need to invest in a good irrigation system and that can also be a major expense.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, raised bed gardens are a great asset to many homesteaders, but they are especially a good choice for those with limited room or poor soil quality. However, if you have the land and the time to treat your soil carefully, planting a traditional garden straight into the ground might be a better way to go.
What do you prefer – do you plant your garden in a raised bed?