Raised Beds vs Container Gardening: What’s the difference and which one is best for you?

Today on the Son Rise Morning Show, Matt Swaim and I talked about gardening.

My open walled raised herb garden includes potted herbs

Raised beds rest directly on the ground and raise the soil level up by as much as two feet, while container gardening uses enclosed pots that you can move. 
Both container gardens and raised beds warm up quicker than an in ground garden.
Raised beds are often larger than containers, although some pots hold as much soil as raised garden beds.

There are other factors to consider when choosing between raised beds vs. container gardening. You’ll need to assess these factors and the benefits of each, depending on the type of plants you want to grow.

The most critical difference between raised beds and potting containers is that raised beds don’t have a bottom. 

Raised Beds – materials  and size
A raised bed frame can be made of wood, masonry or other building material. Raised beds can vary in size depending on the site, the materials used in their construction and gardeners’ preferences. 
Raised beds are typically 6 to 8 inches high, 3 to 6 feet wide and 6 to 8 feet long. Some raised bed frames are further elevated above the ground with blocks or bricks to make them more accessible to people who have difficulty bending or stooping.


  • Better drainage to prevent root rot
  • Reduces the risk of fungal disease
  • Allows the entry of beneficial microbes
  • Welcomes earthworms to aerate the soil
  • One of the greatest advantages of raised beds comes from the protection the structure provides from foot traffic, especially from children working in a garden area. Since people work on the paths and don’t walk in well-designed raised beds, the soil does not get compacted and plants are less likely to be damaged.

The roots and soil are entirely enclosed, which better protects the plant. Just about any container can be used, as long as you have good potting soil and drainage.

  • Can prevent pest infestation
  • Ability to relocate the plant around as weather changes
  • Can be planted close to the kitchen area, like on porches, steps, decks, etc.

If you’re not sure which is best for you, first consider how much room you have. 
Raised beds take more space.  With container gardening, you can grow plants anywhere, as long as you have a suitable pot. If your outdoor space is limited to a small yard or patio space, container gardening lets you make the most of it.

One critical factor to consider is what you plan to grow. While some plants do well in containers, others may need more room. Specifically, plants with deep roots may not flourish in a container.

Plant Spacing Requirements
To decide whether to use raised beds or garden containers for your vegetable garden, you need to know how much space they’ll need. So figure that out when planning.

Bible Herbs
First, I would say that all herbs can be planted successfully in containers. Some of the most significant Bible herbs are mint, dill,basil, rosemary and thyme. Mint especially should be planted in a container.
And lettuces are lovely and easy to harvest in containers. Think of the bitter herbs, including endive, that grow well in a colander. Parsley, an important herb for Passover, is a great container herb. 
As far as vegetables having a Biblical history, beans, melons, cucumbers, and onions grow super well in raised beds (and containers if large enough).

PlantRoot DepthMature HeightRaised BedContainer
Beans, Bush18” to 24”24” to 30”YY
Beans, Pole18” to 24”8’ to 12’YN
Beets18” to 24”4” to 12”YN
Broccoli12” to 18”18” to 24”YN
Brussel sprouts12” to 18”24” to 36”YN
Cabbage12” to 18”12” to 18”YY
Cantaloupe18” to 24”12” to 24”YY
Carrots18” to 24”6” to 15”YY
Cauliflower12” to 18”12” to 30”YN
Celery12” to 18”18” to 24”YY
Chard18” to 24”12” to 30”YY
Corn12” to 18”4’ to 8’YN
Cucumber18” to 24”1’ to 5’YY
Eggplant18” to 24”1’ to 3’YN
Kale18” to 24”12” to 24”YY
Lettuce12” to 18”6” to 12”YY
Okra24” to 36”2’ to 8’YN
Onions12” to 18”8” to 24”YY
Peas18” to 24”2’ to 6’YY
Peppers, bell18” to 24”24” to 36”YY
Peppers, hot18” to 24”12” to 48”YY
Potato12” to 18”12” to 30”YY
Pumpkin24” to 36”12” to 24”YN
Radishes12” to 18”8” to 10”YY
Rocket12” to 18”10” to 12”YY
Rutabaga12” to 18”12” to 18”YN
Spinach12” to 18”6” to 15”YY
Squash, Summer18” to 24”12” to 24”YY
Squash, Winter24” to 36”12” to 24”YY
Strawberries12” to 18”6” to 12”YY
Sweet potatoes24” to 36”12” to 30”YY
Tomatoes24” to 36”2’ to 8’YY
Turnips18” to 24”6” to 12”YY
Watermelon24” to 36”12” to 36”YY
Chart from Farmandgardendiy.com


1 head Romaine lettuce, coarsely choppe

1 English cucumber, diced

2-3 large tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch parsley, chopped (you may not need all of it)

2 bunches of mint, chopped – about 1/3 cup chopped

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 bunch green onions, finely sliced (you may not need all)

1 rib celery, sliced thin

1/2 to 1 cup of Kalamata olives, sliced or coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon sumac plus extra for dusting onto plate edge

2 pita rounds, brushed with olive oil, toasted until golden brown but still chewy, cut into very small wedges or torn into pieces. 


Whisk together

1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

Good amount of garlic: start with 2 teaspoons minced and

1 teaspoon salt or to taste; pepper to taste 

Good amount of Feta for sprinkling on top


Put salad ingredients together. Toss with dressing. Pile onto plate. Sprinkle with Feta. Dust rim with sumac.

Serves 6.

Optional but good: Zaatar dusted pita:

Before toasting, sprinkle with zaatar 

Zaatar is a blend of thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds and sumac. Sumac comes from a shrub common in the Middle East which can grow up to 33 feet (the age which Jesus died). It has a tart, lemony flavor and the berries, or drupes, are called “bobs” and are dried to produce a red spice.

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