This is a nice vegetable garden in Ashford Hollow, New York. It is really more an illustration of companion planting.
… which I just mentioned as part of the proposal for the urban farm in Buffalo. We recently got an email from a gardener/garden blogger in England, Simon of Simon’s Allotment, who has been posting about raised beds versus traditional vegetable gardening (if there is such a thing) where soil amendments are dug in.
I invite you to read Simon’s posts about this on his blog—we will not republish his entire post here—where, calling himself a “traditional organic gardener,” he explains that he follows the methodology he’s seen older, self-taught gardeners using. His posts against raised beds were prompted initially by favorable reviews of Jon Jeavons’ How To Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible. Simon disagrees with Jeavons, and here’s an excerpt of what he says:
I would like to postulate that the more space [soil] has to move around in, the more life and diversity there is likely to be. So it follows that if you divide your plot into narrow raised beds enclosed by boards the less beneficial life you will have in your soil. I’m not a scientist so I can’t prove this, it just seems like common sense.
Raising the soil a foot above the water table inevitably means lots of watering, especially around the edges near the boards where the soil will quickly dry out. Using traditional methods once I’ve watered in my plants or my seed drill I never need to water, except in extreme drought conditions. One of the prime reasons for digging in manure or compost is that it holds the moisture in the soil.
Personally, I tend to like a raised bed, but I am in a tight urban space, where there’s not that much room for anything to move around. I have to nurture my little micro-beds surrounded by hardscaping. And I don’t grow vegetables. But it’s an eternal argument. “Top down” “no till” is the wisdom now. What will be the wisdom decades from now? Is there a compromise? Michele may be working in the middle ground, as she doesn’t use raised beds, but doesn’t till either. I used to read pages and pages of arguments about this on Gardenweb, back in the day, and always found it fascinating.