A gadzillion (gadzillion is a word..right?) words and post have been published about the benefits of raised bed gardening and square foot gardens.
In truth raised beds are best suited to cooler and wetter climates than weather conditions found in Americas West and Southwest.
Pros of Raised Bed Gardening:
More control over the location of the garden
Ability to choose the best soil for your particular plants
More efficient draining
Can be easier on backs and knees due to less bending and stooping
Easier to keep out weeds
The soil warms up earlier in a raised bed, so you can plant earlier and extend your growing season
Better ability to keep out ground dwelling pests
Cons of Raised-Bed Gardening:
Can be more expensive to get started
Require careful planning to make sure there is enough room for plants that need to spread out, and to ensure that you can reach the middle to tend the plants
* Because raised beds drain so efficiently, they will also need to be watered more often and my require an irrigation system
In the west and southwest water is a valuable, often scarce commodity. Areas with little natural rain fall, daily temperatures at or above 95 degrees and humidity levels often dropping to 10% or 20%, tap water is an expensive way to water your garden.
Raised beds will often require watering 2 or even 3 times a day to prevent dry stressing plants.
Amending garden soil by digging in or tilling in large amounts of compost and planting directly in the amended soil very well may be a better choice over raised beds. You will over time develop a quality garden soil that holds moisture. Couple this with extensive use of mulch water needs will be greatly reduced and over heated soil temperatures can be moderated.
* This years mulch will be tilled into the soil as an amendment for next years garden.
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