Ask most gardeners which method of gardening is better, ie, raised beds vs row gardening and you will get a plethora of results. Some will swear by the old open ground or rows and more recently others will suggest that raised bed gardening is hard to better. It depends on who you ask and I suspect that those hardened gardenrs who have used the row or drill methods will unwavering swear by this system that they have used for years. But on the otherhand, ask a newbie or someone who has just started their gardening adventures and are using the rasied beds and they will tell us differently. Its horses for courses as the old adage goes and as we go forward and become more experienced and educated in gardening circles, we will see a shift towards raised beds as the preferred method.
There are considerable differences in how we go about preparing and getting each system of gardening ready for planting and we will look at each and discuss the pros and cons in some detail. There has been a lot written in journals, books, ebooks, videos, CDs, DVDs and more, with each publication stating its own preferance , so its a question of what method we are happy to go with. Planting our vegetables in the ground, ridges, rows or drills is natures way, some would say, whereas the raised bed gardening method is more technical, structured and organised.
If we look at how farmers and agricultural growers work with their machinery, its so easy to make the rows and that system works well with them for certain crops. The drill or plough makes a row or mound of the soil and then the seed is planted within. The row allows soil to be built up and support the crop or vegetable as it matures and grows towards maturity. This soil structure will force the rain water to flow downwards and thus keeps the seed relatively dry during the growing period. We have then, as residental back gardeners have taken our cue from this system and adopted it for our own purposes. Instead of using machinery in our back gardens, we do this work manually and that can take a considerable amount of time and effort.
Maintenance and labor;
The soil has to be tilled and turned with a tiller, spade or fork and allowed to dry and settle. After that task has been completed, we then make rows, ridges, mounds of the soil and get our garden ready for the sowing of our vegetables. A ridge or mound is a similar practice whereby we would have 3-4 rows of soil in one row and this idea is, in all but in name a raised bed. It just does’nt have the timber frames sorrounding it. This garden system would be just as suitable for growing purposes and will ably assist in our gardening chores.
As for maintenance, there is considerable work involved here in keeping the garden in shape. Some gardeners put down straw between the rows and this keeps the weeds at bay, so that will eliminate some of this work.
Raised bed gardening;
I prefer this system of gardening and that is probably evident at this stage, as this website is pretty much all about raised beds, how to construct these and how to maintain these bed frames from sowing, right through to harvest. The beauty of raised beds is the organisation, size and shape, the location and other such benefits that the rows or drills don’t bring to the equation. The soil is ready for planting much earlier than the ground, row or mound system, due to the fact that the soil is in a raised construction and as the weather becomes warmer, so too does the soil and that factor allows for much earlier planting and sowing.
The maintenance of raised beds is so little in comparison to the other system and that extra time and labour saving allows us to concentrate on the more important issues associated with gardening in general. We have written earlier, a post on raised bed advantages and this can be read here. With the raised bed method we can plant seedlings much closer together, resulting in a greater yield and an overall better produce to boot. As we can see from the images of raised beds, there is much more structure to our gardening, its much more organised and we can plan ahead in stages by adding extra beds to our gardens.
Other advantages of raised beds;
The beauty of raised beds is that we can upsticks and move our raised beds from one area to another, if we are not happy with the original placement. If we dont have a suitable area for gardening, we can also locate these on a concrete yard, deck or timber patio. We can decide on what size, shape, height or depth we want these to be and if needs be, which is a welcome argument, say depending on our budget. The most important benefit of the raised bed garden is the growing period, which is much longer and greater than the open row ground method. We can sow much earlier in the springtime and at the harvest end, that is also extended. The order and function of these raised beds is such that its so easy to walk around these rectangle boxes, they can be a focal point of our backgardens and if these are built to a high standard, we can wow our neighbours and friends and tease them a little by their grandeur, elegance and style.
Once again, I hope that this post enlightens and informs us on that ongoing argument as to which system of gardening is better. As ever, feel free to offer your opinions and have your say on any matter relating to the above, via the comments section down below.
Happy gardening to all,
Cheers Phil Browne.