I’m making a new garden — should I build raised beds?
In my opinion raised beds are more work to make and they dry out faster, which can be helpful in spring but not so good in hot summers (unless you are working with a poorly drained site.)
What is recommended is to lay out DEDICATED paths and beds, so that you avoid compacting the soil as much as possible. I like to till or spade the entire area, then mark out where you want the beds. Rake the loose soil off of the “paths” up onto the “beds” to create slightly raised areas. Then use recycled cedar fence rails to edge the long sides of the beds, and leave the short ends open. You can get the recycled rails from fence companies and just lay them on the ground — they stay put quite nicely.
To learn more, read Build Permanent Beds and Paths, Gardening for Keeps and How to Make Instant No-Dig Garden Beds.
Cheryl Long is the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and a leading advocate for more sustainable lifestyles. She leads a team of editors which produces high quality content that has resulted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS being rated as one North America’s favorite magazines. Long lives on an 8-acre homestead near Topeka, Kan., powered in part by solar panels, where she manages a large organic garden and a small flock of heritage chickens. Prior to taking the helm at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, she was an editor at Organic Gardening magazine for 10 years. Connect with her on Google+.