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Raised bed V Deep dig  RSS feed

 
Andy Reed
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For a couple of years I've tried raised beds, and in my experience they have been less then ideal.
The Hugelculture was tricky because whenever I would weed all the topsoil would tumble down to the bottom, and for transplanting I needed to create a mini terrace to put the plant in which to my mind took up more room, not less then a conventional garden.
Walled Raised beds by themselves seemed to dry out very fast, and I don't really see the advantage. Maybe if you built them high enough so you didn't actually need to bend over there would be some benefit, but that's about 5 foot high, and you are talking significant building work. You solve the problem of bending over, but at what cost?
I don't really see why raised beds are promoted to the extent that if you aren't growing on raised beds it's not really permaculture, so maybe someone could explain this to me?
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Not sure what was going on with your hugel, I've just put my transplants right in, putting holes perpendicular to the hugel slope. Never felt the need to terrace.
Depending on your environment, any kind of raised bed can be a bad idea, because they will dry out more readily than level ground or sunken beds.

But here is the thing, Permaculture is not defined by techniques, it is defined by appropriate decisions. In some places raised beds make sense and are a good choice. For example, you can put raised beds on top of heavy clay soil and provide a place for plants to grow much more easily without loads of work trying to break up the clay, or amending it for ages. But in an arid environment, you might want to go with sunken beds, not raised.

Lots of people posting here are working in temperate climates with fairly generous water budgets, so they talk about raised beds. But we have many people on the other end, and they talk about avoiding raised beds in favor of systems that work to collect water.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Digging versus raised beds is not an either/or choice, I don't think.

My most successful raised bed is right by my house within reach of my garden hose, so watering is not a problem. It's quite tall, being made from (on the long edge) uncut full-sized sheets of old-fashioned galvanized corrugated sheet steel (AKA "tin"). The ground underneath was a heavily-compacted lawn in clay soil, so before I built the bed I double-dug the ground underneath it. Just because the bed is raised doesn't mean your plants won't try to send down roots into the native soil, so there's no harm in preparing that also. In my case, I put a fair bit of hugel wood in the bottom of the hole when I double-dug and then used the excess soil to start filling the bed.

I've only used it through one growing season but it was very effective, keeping me in tomatoes from mid-August through Halloween.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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For me it's about making soil from scratch. My raised beds are lasagnas of leaves,grass, soil from the yard, kitchen scraps, manures,finished compost, whatever.
They are very spongy,hardly need watering and are very fertile.
Growing up we amened our soil again and again to little effect.
Raised beds broken that pattern.
The hugels have not worked for me,to the point I have dug them up.
 
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