I think I would do raised garden beds on contour. Last year I made a few different bed styles and found that the ones that I made on contour held more water and were able to be harvested pretty easily. Don't do anything that would make harvesting too time consuming.
While linear beds look fairly nice and professional, i'd want to eliminate as much of the interior foot path as possible from the growing area. That would mean using something more along the lines of keyholes which are almost twice as efficient in gardenspace:walkingspace. I remember seeing the Mandala Garden for the first time in Gaia's Garden and it's simple and beautiful organization seemed almost wasteless.
Whether you do use linear garden beds or not, i should mention the one possible danger to building them on contour, or in any such way that they catch water. depending on how "raised" the bed is, if it catches too much water on the uphill side it will move downhill. In Sepp Holzer's Permaculture he makes a point of keeping his linear hugelkultur beds just off of contour to encourage water against the beds while channeling it slowly downwards.
From my own experience with various garden designs, you should be sure not to make your beds too wide, because it is hard to reach into them to harvest, and don't make your paths too narrow or they will get overgrown by bushy plants and make moving through the garden difficult and potentially dangerous. When I made my paths very narrow ( 1 foot wide) or (stupidly) made only stepping-stone paths, my garden got so overgrown I stopped going into parts of it because it was too difficult. My current paths are about 18 inches and they're even getting overgrown by healthy plants.
Do you have sandy, loamy, or clay soil? If you're going to have to irrigate a lot, I'd go with dripline and slightly off contour beds as Nicola cautions. If watering isn't a problem, or you have to use a hose/circular sprinkler, I'd go with a mandala, and put the sprinkler in the centre.
Alex Ames wrote:I hope you will send us a picture from the same spot as the first one was taken so we can tell
better what you have done.
It's on the Youtube link just above you...Progress thus far.
I see that you can dig like a gopher but I can't tell which way you are digging without the house in there
to give it some orientation. If there is a picture in there taken from the same place as the first one I can't
pick it out. I am not having any trouble recognizing your dirt. I have some of that myself.