In recent times there is a shift and a change in the way that we now grow our vegetables. Raised beds vs ground beds is the debate that is seemingly an ongoing topic of conversation in gardening circles. There is a generation who grew up with the open ground system of gardening and will naturally say that their’s was and always will be the best method to garden with.
However there is a major change and a swing to the raised bed gardening system, especially from the younger and beginner gardening folk, as they see that maybe it’s a little less labourious and looks more professional when everything is set up and the beds are planted and flourishing.
This is a natural response and its just human nature being what it is. As we all know, we as humans are very slow to change and to take on new systems, new technology or new changes, so its a case of….OK so, let’s see how it works. This new phenonomen is slowly being embraced and adapted as a better system for growing our vegetables. Lets look at both systems and see what are the major differences, how do each of them work and whats involved in each method in terms of preparation work and maintenance.
Ground or in ground garden beds;
This is the method that has been used for generations and as it was the only known type of gardening people ever used or knew and it was always passed on from parent to children. For starters, we had to prepare the ground and this was done either manually or mechanically, depending on the size of our back garden or back yard. A tiller or rotavator was used for this purpose, especially if it was a large area that we were preparing and we may have done this twice or maybe three times, before the ground was ready for planting or sowing.
The weather had to be favourable and drying the ground may have taken weeks before it was deemed suitable to plant. If we decided to add fertilizer or farmyard manure to the garden, this was an extra workload on top of the other preparation. If the ground was seen to contain a lot of rocks, stones, tree roots or other unwanted material, this was another task that had to be done, before we were ready to begin sowing.
Next up, we now decided what system of growing we would use, ie, did we plant in the ground as it was ( known as open ground planting ) or did we decide to make rows, drills or ridges. This was necessary to organise or section-off different areas of our garden for the different vegetables, that we would be planting. A drill or row as its know, depending on where we live, is where we make a mound of the soil in a straight line right down the length or width of the garden. Then another row was made parallel to the first one and this was repeated right through the whole of the garden. A ridge then on the other hand was the equivalent of putting two to three rows together and continue with this method all through the garden. A row or drill was approx 1ft wide and a ridge was then approx 3ft in width.
There was a distinct advantage in the ridges method as we can clearly see that it eliminated a large part of the work and labor requirements. A length of string tied tautly to two small stakes at each end of the garden was then put in place. This idea was a guide and used to make straight rows or drills, as all gardeners had great pride in what they did and wanted to show that they were competent at making straight drills or rows in their gardens. A garden ridge would be the equivalent of about three rows or drills and this ridge system was specifically used for the cultivation and growing of large vegetables like, potatoes, melons, cabbages tomatoes etc etc. Already, we have seen what is required to ready a garden for planting using the open ground methods and we have’nt even begun to start planting as of yet.
Raised bed gardens;
Now lets look at the other method of gardening that is currently being used on a regurlar basis and is growing in popularity all over. The first part of this equation is to get the frame in place and select a good open sunny location for this purpose. We either make the bed frame ourselves, get someone to construct it for us or alternatively, purchase this online or maybe at our local garden centre or hardware store. Once that exercise is complete, its then only a question of adding the soil and we are ready to begin planting.
Reducing the workload;
How easy is that compared to what we have just discussed above. As we can see we have eliminated approx 90% of the workload right there and this fact alone, is surely a reason for choosing this method of gardening. In fact if we had the soil ready at our disposal, we could in essence, construct the raised bed frame, fill with topsoil and have it planted-up on the same day. How cool would that be, no waiting for the soil to dry out, no hours and hours of backbreaking preparation and no worries about how the state of our garden looks. The raised bed garden system in fact, looks very attractive, has a professional style and appeal and will enhance the appearance of our homes and backyards, if crafted to a certain degree of workmanship.
I trust that this article, puts to bed, all the debate about which is the better system of gardening. I have’nt even listed the advantages of raised beds in terms of how one harvest would compare to the other, it would take too long in earnest. There is no comparison between the two methods and its easy to see which system would be the preferred option.
Here’s hoping that you have enjoyed reading this post and as you all know, we are a very sociable bunch here at buildingraisedbeds.com. If you would like to join in the conversation, please do and feel free to use the comments box down below, where we will reply in due course.
Happy gardening to all who try and succeed,
Cheers Phil Browne.