Take Your Pick: Raised Beds or In-Ground Gardening?

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July 3, 2019

When sowing or planting a crop, there are techniques and even mannerisms that vary among gardeners. The distinct methods are usually all valid, though they demand different kinds of soil mobilization, human skill, and effort.

So here’s the question: between raised beds and in-ground gardens, which type is better suited for your needs?

Why choose raised beds?

  • Better soil characteristics

For traditional raised beds (or this fancy one), you’ll usually dig a long furrow, about 50 cm deep, then refill it with interspersed layers of fertilizer and the dugout earth. By the end, you should have a specific elevation of enriched earth that’ll be an excellent plot for vegetables. This way, beneath the surface, there will be greater soil depth and lighter texture that allow not only for better rooting but also healthier drainage.

An alternative to this busier technique would be to buy straw, potting mix, and some compost, then go about creating a big new bed entirely above the surface. The benefits are the same, only that this one is more vulnerable to temperature changes, winds, and rain.

  • Less weeding and hoeing

Once you make your bed, it’s probable that the soil got so revolved that its layers are shuffled, making the weeds slower to sprout. If they do appear, it’ll be easier to pluck them out because the soil is so much fluffier.

  • Welcomes plants that aren’t native

One of the most exciting aspects of this type of bedding is that everything can be added to the soil. You can influence the pH and texture, the fraction of organic matter, and even the temperature of the substrate.

  • Extends the growing season

Cold is a hindrance to early crops that use the late winter to start growing their first roots. But if they’re rising from the top of a bale, then whatever ray of sunlight happens to show up in the morning will much more easily warm up the frost that the plants’ roots are sunk in.

  • More efficient to manage

When using beds, everything is forced to fit in a much smaller area, so managing such a garden can be more productive. Crop growth also tends to be higher due to overall better conditions, and the harvest time comes quicker, stretching out the production period as a result.

Disadvantages of raised beds

  • Expensive and time-consuming to build

Making beds that don’t rely on your garden’s soil and biomass means you’re going to incur some expenses. You’ll have to find the right ingredients to make your artificial patch and inject some life into it. Defying nature has its costs.

  • Limited area to work on

What is in some ways a blessing can also be our bane if space is what we lack. Bales can be pretty, but they also demand a certain amount of room, and they’ll hog precious space in the garden. 

Why choose in-ground gardens?

  • Easier and quicker to operate

Since you need not get anything from the outside world to start a natural ground garden, it’s genuinely easier to get into it and start growing. The only issue that may arise is the hardness of the ground, depending on soil type and the time of year when you’re planning to work it.

  • Needs less water, less often

As haybales stand taller, their water content usually evaporates more, causing the plants to undergo periods of drought during Summer. Common gardens, on the other hand, are less responsive to hot days because the water is better stored deep below, so any intense heat is often not as damaging to the plants.

  • More versatile

When you’re dealing with natural earth, you can plow it, pile it up, and blend it with many other components like sand or compost. Even weeds and crop residue can be incorporated and quickly become one with the soil.

Disadvantages of in-ground beds

  • Be overthrown by weeds

Spiteful weeds have always sucked the life out of gardens. They shade them, drink up water, and binge on their nutrients. Moreover, they shelter numerous plagues. Ground level gardens cannot evade their presence and even if you create barriers, it’s not from the sides that weeds reach in but from underneath, blending in with our plants.

  • Looks less appealing

This is a debatable point but, in general, a well-done raised bed will beat, looks-wise, most typical gardens filled with our archenemy weeds. They’re also less appealing because despite them being overall easier to care for, they sometimes have limited fertility.

  • Offers poorer conditions for plant growth

There can be many limitations to an in-ground garden, particularly in backyards whose dirt is hard and rocky. It’s a matter of discovering the right crops that best root under conditions of mediocre texture, drainage, and faulty fertility.

Start with the most straightforward approach and then grow to be a master in plant care. Just know that both garden types offer different possibilities, and since nothing is permanent, you’re always free to change your mind next growing season if you don’t fancy your current style.

Ricardo Elisiário
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Ricardo Elisiário

Ricardo Elisiário is a frenetic freelance writer for hire. He should probably act more like the agricultural engineer he is, yet you’ll find him creating copy and content for websites, print, and his own amusement, as he’s up to becoming the new Dickens someday. To find out more about this Lisbon-born wifey-lover, visit his website or say hello @rmelisiario.
Ricardo Elisiário
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