I used Mel's Mix and have to say, it really is nice. I can't imagine it being poor soil; makes me think the compost added to the mix must have been bad compost (and if you buy it from the store, you have a pretty good chance of it being bad). I used homemade.
However, I will not use it again. For ethical reasons I will not purchase peat moss or vermiculite.
I did a second raised bed this year and mixed half soil and half homemade compost. It's working nicely. Honestly, Mel's Mix was even nicer but half soil and half compost is totally doing the job.
I think raised beds are nice and efficient for small to medium gardners, because it really does take a lot of time and effort to improve soil - a raised bed gets you going right away.
I like the intensive planting rather than the inefficient row gardening scheme, which really is modelled after industrial farming and not backyard gardening. It makes no sense to plant and thin like the packet says. It's inefficient, more work, more seeds, and also frankly not even kind to plants to kill 2 out of 3 seedlings like that.
Watering in a raised bed is more efficient than watering your big row garden.
Weeding is definitely improved. When you plant intensively, the weeds don't have a place to get in. The rows invite weeds because nature abhors a vacuum. So you're just fighting nature to keep that soil bare.
The advice to keep your gardens near where you are is important. I have made the mistake of placing my garden a little too far away and it did indeed get neglected. The one just outside of my back door gets plenty of attention, naturally. When pests started chewing on my brocolli I noticed right away and started handpicking it. (Honestly, it's an ongoing issue but I'm winning since the brocs are still growing). The garden farther away, I wouldn't have noticed until it was too late probably.
So I give a thumbs-up to SFG but just don't ethically support Mel's Mix. Plus don't let him scare you when he says "it's not a SFG unless you have the dividers" or whatever. Fine, Mel, so it's not a square foot garden. You can take whatever you want out of it
Oh, I forgot one thing - in my last garden I bought 12" long and 6" high bricks from the garden department at WalMart. I forgot the price but say $1.50 a brick. I did not mortar them together and just stacked them two high. They are holding up just fine just sitting there like that. Yes, it did add up to be more than the wood frame, but the bricks will last longer. You might think they are prettier too, but to me that's just an aside. For me, a big thing was really avoiding carpenter ants which live in this area. They live in wood. So if that's an issue, think about bricks.