11” or 17 “ raise veggie bed?
I’m in central AR, so ~ z 7b but with hot dry summers, sometimes 4 weeks without a drop of rain. So veggie raised beds & containers are high- maintenance for watering, but raised beds are more resilient.
I’m planning to install a 4x8 cedar raised bed. But have option for a 3- boards- high size which is ~ 17”. Of course that is significantly more expensive and takes more cu ft of fill.
Here are some considerations:
In past have done the approximate 11” high sides, which is 2 boards high. My raised beds have always been on top of existing soil , no- till but at least roots can attempt to reach deeper. My previous efforts were over not - great soil ( lawn, clay ish & rocky) but over quite a few years that “ subsoil “ did get improved as well.
New area is worse, loads of rocks everywhere you try to dig, somewhat inconvenient access for watering as well. I started one 4x4 bed a year or so ago and managed to grow some cherry tomatoes.
I did not do any digging , just plopped my garden soil mixture in there, but after experimenting more with gardening in the new yard , planting some individual shrubs & such, I realized just how rocky it is so do quite a bit of pickaxe work.
For the new bed I plan to pickaxe the interior but only somewhat— I can “ disturb “ maybe 3-4 “ of this compacted rock- fest, with deeper pockets here & there , but that’s about all I can manage. I believe that will help promote a bit deeper root system & drought resilience, but of course would take years for major soil interaction. I do also do some spading- fork work between planting seasons & when adding compost etc especially after rainy month when there’s a chance of making a dent.So, if you’re still awake, thanks, do you think it’s worth the added cost to have a deeper soil that’s still ABOVE the “ real” soil & subject to just being a lot of dry raised bed? Do I get the most bang from the 11-12 “ height & not much from extra?
I’m admitting it’s hard for me to water as much as veggies really want in our summers, but also wonder if there’s a feedback loop, if they’d grow and produce better in 17” bed would I enjoy watering more! But then there’s the problem of being gone for even a few days.
Thanks for any feedback. My garden area is also a bit shy of sun for best results, maybe 6 hrs or a bit more but not 10. So may end up specializing in greens and the various lower- Sun veggies.