Haven’t we all, at one point or another, asked this question? We see Grandma using in-ground beds, the neighbor has raised beds and Aunt June has pots everywhere. So, what is the right way to do it?
Here is the answer…There is no RIGHT way to do it! A garden is such a personal space meant to be a place you will love! Because, if you don’t love it…you won’t tend it well!
Over the years I have grown in-ground gardens, both veggie and flower. I have grown in raised beds of all shapes and sizes. I have grown in every kind of pot that has ever been made; fabric bags, porcelain, plastic & terra cotta. I even had a stint where I grew in a hydroponics setup that I built myself. And I am here to tell you…they ALL work! They all will give you flowers or food! They are all the “right” way to do it.
So then, how do you decide where to start?
You have to decide what you want to grow, how much work and money you are willing to invest, and what your desired outcome is. For example, if you want to grow an entire year’s worth of food for your family, you probably are going to need more than one raised bed. If you only want a small herb garden, grab some beautiful pots and go to town!
Here is a very short pro and cons list for each type of gardening I have tried. This is NOT a complete list, just enough to get you started!
In most cases, the least expensive because you are not typically going to have to buy soil
You can get a ton of produce in one space, even if it is a little space
No need to replace boards or structures that are getting old because…it is the earth
More labor intensive. When starting an in-ground bed you either have to do some tilling and prep work, or do a lasagna-style bed, to get it ready to plant. This can be hard work!
In my experience, there are more weeds in an in-ground bed
Higher up so you have less bending
If built with a ledge you have a place to sit while working
Square Foot Gardening is so much easier
Less weed pressure
Considerably less work than in-ground beds – just fill them up and plant
Raised beds are typically made of wood or metal and can be pricey
You have to purchase soil to fill them up which costs money
Have a limited number of years before you have to replace them
Pots, Grow Bags, and Planters
Most opportunities for personality in the garden because they come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and materials! If you want your garden to be an expression of art, this is your way to go!
Most costly. Not only are you buying the soil but now you are buying the pots as well. Some pots can cost the same as an entire raised bed.
Have to be watered more often
My favorite? Well, I use ALL of them! I have two very large in-ground plots for food production. I have 17 raised beds and 5 more ready to build that I tend to use the Square Foot Gardening method in. AND I have countless grow bags, pots, and barrels as well. I love the way that an eclectic garden looks. I find it so interesting and inviting. I will say, everything must be lined up and in its place, however! I call it organized eclectic!
Below are some images from my personal 2021 garden!
*I left off hydroponic gardening because I have limited experience with it and would not give a fair review. However, I did enjoy the process of it.