I had a great question on FaceBook this morning and put so much effort into it, I thought I would include it as a post. I have a group there called Grow Your Own Food: Edible Gardening with Gardener to Farmer. Come on by and check it out!
Good morning JeanAnn, I have another question for you. What is your preferred style for planting. Do you typically plant in mounds, or holes or just on even dirt. What do you thiink would be a water saving technique? Thanks
Ruth, that's a great question, with a kind of strange answer. I plant in the ground in raised beds. The two aren't mutually exclusive. If you add a good lot of compost to an in ground bed, you have a raised bed without sides. Which is great for drainage and particularly helpful with root crops. Unfortunately, you do not have the benefit of the physical barrier of sides to reduce the likelihood of weed seeds blowing in...and may spend a lot of time weeding, despite mulching well, particularly in the beginning.
Raised beds with sides are great for reducing weed problems. And many people think they are easier to plant and harvest. If you have a small lot, raised beds with sides are most likely a good investment of time and energy.
However, I have a half an acre of land...which translates into WAY too much space to build all of those beautifully built raised beds. I have been thinking about adding a couple with benches on the sides. It would be lovely to have a place to sit while tending the plants. This photo is from the Oregon State Extension... they are a great resource.
And, hills are helpful for vines, but they do just fine in any kind of raised bed.
As for water conservation, I don't know that either is particularly better. I know there is a dirt farming technique in which drip irrigation is aimed directly at the base of the plant and very dry topsoil is used as mulch. By not amending or watering the soil surrounding the crop, it is easier to control weeds. I was trying to find a link for this information, but haven't so far...will keep researching.
Maybe someone else has a resource? If you do, please reply! Even if you don't, I would love to hear your thoughts on raised beds...
This adorable little raised bed is available for just short of 4o bucks at Home Depot.