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Why should I use a raised bed?

14 years ago

Hello, I'm a new gardener and I've planted an intensive vegetable garden in the side garden plot of my apartment building (my landlord is awesome :). The space is about 3.5 ft x 25 ft. with sandy soil that runs deep. I read quite a bit about intensive gardening before we planted and decided not to do a raised bed because the garden borders the building- I thought we would have trouble getting to the back of the garden if we couldn't walk on the soil. We amended the soil which raised it about 3" so we sloped the surface before we planted.

I've gone a little garden nuts (with my neighbor) and my landlord agreed to give us a second bed to garden in where there is ground cover we can dig up (this spot gets the best light in the whole courtyard). The space is very shallow and long- about 1.5 ft x 15 ft.

After reading about how much gardener's love raised beds on this forum, I'm starting to wonder if we should do one in our second plot. However, I'm having trouble finding much information on the cons of a raised bed, while many of the pros seem unsuited for our climate in Redondo Beach. I'm hoping someone out there can help me make this decision.

Considering that in this spot we have these issues to deal with:

- we live in Southern California so keeping the soil warmer by raising it off of ground level does not really help us- if anything we fight the opposite problem throughout the summer.

- we are 2 blocks from the ocean and have wonderful sandy soil to work with with great drainage- so adding "Mel's Mix" or soil loosening compost might be overkill.

- we have hot summers and this spot gets intense sun. Our primary garden already needs water every 2-3 days (according to our tomato gages) and in a raised bed we would have to water more frequently (like with our potted vegetables that need water every 2 days without fail).

- so far weeds have really not been too much of an issue in the primary garden. We mulched the whole thing and I think I've seen about 5 little weeds since. I can't imagine we'd have much of a problem with a plot 1.5 ft wide.

So... why should we plant or not plant in a raised bed?

Also, for next year, is there any reason why we should use a raised bed in our primary garden? All of our plants except for a few peppers (seems to be common this year in SoCA for some unknown reason) are doing really well so far.

Thanks in advance.


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