Outdoor Practical Life: PNW Vegetable Garden Beds – Establishment & DIY Compost

view of a farm and a family working in a garden

“Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.”

 – John Ruskin

Happy Earth Day 2020!  We’re continuing our work on our PNW vegetable garden so I thought I’d share a quick update in honor of this special day.  

We had a cold, rainy day to start off our bed work this past weekend, but it warmed up throughout the day and the sun greeted us by mid-afternoon.

pink and camo work boots
montessori baby sitting on the floor and smiling

Vegetable Garden Beds

I assisted our two oldest children with their rain gear (check out this post for more on how we gear up for our dirty jobs) and then I put on my fanciest boots and my baby, before heading outside to start working on our bed.

Tools We Used

  • Gardening Gloves
  • Tape Measure
  • Hoe
  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Buckets (for fun)
plan for vegetable garden beds

Garden Design

Our garden is actually going to be comprised of two separate vegetable garden beds and a buffer enclosed in net wire fencing tall enough to protect it from our local wildlife and with some room between the beds for walking, sitting, journaling, etc.  We will have approx. 96 sq. ft of area to grow, which is a great size for our family’s starter garden.  Our kids are very much active participants in our vegetable gardening experience and this will yield enough to feed our family conservatively while at the same time allowing us to effectively observe and mentor as needed.  This garden was designed for future growth so we have taken that into account throughout the planning process.  Now, on to the actual vegetable garden beds.

measuring garden site

Measuring the Garden Site

Our oldest daughter measured out the area and helped mark it with some flags, before my husband volunteered for the toughest job of removing the existing layer of turf and transferring it to our compost pile.  Our daughter intermittently checked his work armed with a tape measure and a smile.

double digging vegetable garden beds and kids playing with buckets

Digging the Beds

When our two older children weren’t checking my husband’s work and giving helpful tips, like “Watch your feet, Dada!”, they were collaborating on the design and creation of a couple mud holes, just large enough for their Antarctic animals to go swimming in.

double digging a vegetable garden bed

My husband continued double digging our bed while we all provided moral support and cheered him on.  

montessori kids playing in a vegetable garden bed site

Vegetable Garden Beds and Play Space

Long after my husband concluded his work for the day, our children were still exploring the bed, having fun with all the earthworms, grubs, and millipedes they could find.  

kids playing near compost

DIY Compost For Vegetable Garden Beds

As we continue to work on our vegetable garden beds and fortify it with some fencing, we are also working on some other projects.  We just recently finished setting up the site for our basic backyard compost.  We chose a nice location in a wooded area with partial sun, behind our garage and near the workshop.  It’s not too far from our home or our garden so we can conveniently add to the pile as needed and then transfer it to the garden using a wheelbarrow.  

We created a simple temporary 3-sided border to protect the adjacent cement and structure and to provide a visual separation for our kids, since they will be helping to manage the compost pile.  I’m sure we’ll need to build a more significant enclosure for our compost pile, given the amount of wildlife roaming the property (I’m not going to point any fingers),

two deer exploring on a farm

but this is a good starting point for now.  Our kids had a lot of fun setting it up.  

For more on composting, this is a good general resource.  Farm Anatomy is an awesome family-friendly resource that contains all sorts of neat illustrations and information about anything related to farming.  We actually love all three books in this series by Julia Rothman.  If you’ve been with us awhile, you’ve seen them pop up over and over again in our posts.  They’re our Montessori/Minimalist must-have for homeschooling.  There’s actually a fourth book coming out next week and it looks pretty cool too.

Anyway, we have lots more to do so we’re going to get back to work.  Stay tuned for additional updates on our family vegetable garden.

What’s Ahead

Currently in the queue, we have an update on our Math works, more Sensorial work, what’s in our Morning Basket, and some Practical Life in the kitchen.  We have a musical surprise to share with you all, but we’re going to hold off for a bit and bust that one out later.  We’re also still getting our homeschool room together, having just moved to the farm, and we may share more on that once we’re all settled.  

Since we’re having the most fun getting our garden up and going, we’ll probably continue to share some of that journey and then circle back to the other posts when our kids have moved on to spending more of their time running through the sprinkler naked.

We hope everyone is doing well and keeping busy.  Until next time, stay happy and healthy together!

montessori kids playing in homeschool room

More Outdoor Practical Life in the Garden


Starting in-ground garden beds from scratch? See how we involve our kids in getting our vegetable garden beds up and running in our homeschool gardening program. #montessori #homeschool #montessorigardening #montessorigardeninglessons #diycompost #kidsactivities #gardening

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