Containers vs Raised Beds, What are the Pros and Cons?

March 16, 2018

Containers vs Raised Beds, What are the Pros and Cons?

I get this question a lot. Why would someone want to choose one growing container over another and how does it affect work flows and plant growth? Here's a quick comparison of the two options in an easy to read format.

Containers:

Pros: 

Easy to move around

Easy to transplant out of into another container

Better for isolating or culling a plant

Typically uses less soil per plant

Easier to deal with pests and disease problems (soil can be removed)

Easier to sanitize room for indoor environments

Cons:

Less space for root growth, which can be a limiting factor

Potential for root girdling or getting "root bound" in non-air pruning pots

Typically requires more watering and nutrient management

Labor requirement is drastically higher due to the need to bring soil in and out of facility and transplant consistently to larger size containers throughout plant cycle

Harder to water evenly and manage properly

Raised Beds:

Pros:

Root space is not a limiting factor

Soil can be re-amended right in the bed for the next cycle

When re-using soil, it can be amended at lower rates than containers, allowing for quicker turn-around on cycle

You can run more of a "no till" style grow, allowing for better soil structure and soil ecology over time

Much less costly since you are re-using soil every cycle (some of our growers have gone over 4 years in the same soil)

Less environmental impact due to less runoff and no disposal of potting soil back into the environment

Easier to trellis and scrog the plants for an even canopy

Easier to setup irrigation and water; also less watering needed

Cons:

Harder to sanitize rooms since raised beds are usually permanent (some designs have them on rollers or pallets)

Higher initial cost due to needing more soil

Risk of certain pests can be tougher to manage organically (root knot nematode, root aphids, etc...), but not impossible

 

Personally I think raised beds offer the best solution in most instances, though I realize this is a tough transition for container growers. We are currently working with growers who have been re-using soil indoors in beds for over 5 years with minimal inputs. If this is something you are looking to trial in your indoor garden or facility, don't hesitate to reach out to me directly at tad@kisorganics.com and I'm happy to help!

 

 





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