Outdoor Practical Life: PNW Vegetable Garden – Sun, Soil, Air, & Water… & Deer

montessori child planting seeds in an egg carton

“Our life is frittered away by detail–simplify, simplify.”

– Thoreau

As part of our new happy homesteading journey, we are really focusing on four key factors or goals as part of our lifestyle:

  • Produce More
  • Consume Less
  • Consume Local
  • Simplify

We’re learning as we go and it’s a time-consuming process, but it’s really rewarding every time we learn something new or make positive changes.  The biggest changes will be evident in our Practical Life activities, but it does spill over into other areas of our lives, so that may be noticeable along our homeschooling journey.  

Since we’ve been really busy and we’re starting to see some results add up, this is a good time for us to give a little update on what we’re currently up to with our family vegetable garden.

Our seedlings (tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, beans, and watermelon) are all doing their thing and some of them have popped up and introduced themselves (as seen above) in the last day or so.  We are so excited to meet them after patiently waiting.

Seedlings in an egg carton sitting in a windowsill

Indoor Starts

Well, hello there, little ones!  So nice to finally meet you.  

We started our tomato and watermelon indoors since the air and soil temps are still a bit chilly for them right now.  Rather than purchasing the plastic starter trays or DIY’ing a soil blocking tool, which is very cool but a bit of an advanced project for our little ones, we decided to Keep. It. Simple. and our oldest planted our seeds 10 days ago in leftover cardboard egg cartons with some locally produced potting soil.  We checked the soil daily and watered as needed, keeping them in south-facing windows to absorb all the available sunlight.  

The egg cartons are neat because when the time comes, we can just carefully cut the carton apart and our children can transplant our young plants in the individual egg carton cells into the soil.  It’s a much easier way for them to handle delicate transplants.

In-Ground Garden Beds Enclosed in Fencing on Farm

Fencing of Our PNW Vegetable Garden

We also have our beds up and running after installing some net wire fencing to protect our veggies.  My husband is such a good sport and he did all the heavy lifting and labor in the rain to get our fence up for us while we played nearby.  He’s a very busy guy and he works really hard so we’re super appreciative when he can carve out some time for special projects at home such as this.  We have lots of does and several bucks visiting us on a daily basis so it was crucial for us to get our fencing up before any planting.

Montessori Garden Program Crop Rotation Schedule

Direct-Sown Seeds in Vegetable Garden

We mixed in a small amount of locally-sourced aged compost along with some blood and bone meal to beef up our soil nutrients. We let that chillax and mix with the rain a little over a week prior to any direct seeding.  Afterwards, we planted our lettuce and carrot seeds first (Bed 1) and then our broccoli (Bed 1) and bean seeds (Bed 2), along with a few Mother’s Day tomato transplants (Bed 2) we were gifted, a week later.  I also included an example of what our 4-year crop rotation schedule would look like, using labels A – D for each section, in the event we kept the same design and did not expand our vegetable garden in the future.

There’s really no rhyme or reason as to why we spaced out our planting other than the fact that our kids are participating and we have chosen to move at their pace and take our time.  It seemed to work out pretty well.  Our kids used Bed 2 as a play space for their trucks and animals until it was time to sow.  The seedlings in Bed 1 are just now peeking through the soil so it’s been exciting for our kids to see the daily progression. They’re now using a shady spot nearby, under a couple trees, as their new play space for trucks and digging tools.

Measuring and Harvesting the Rain

I’m still scoping this one out a bit.  We have a nifty not-so-little rain gauge we’re going to attach to our front deck so our children can help us monitor the weekly rainfall amount.  I spent some time exploring the property and its buildings in search of something to use for a catchment system but I didn’t find anything suitable.  We have several vineyards in our area and we were lucky enough to find a beautiful aged oak wine barrel that we can use to capture and store the ample rainfall we’re experiencing right now for future use in our vegetable garden.  However, we do need to spec this out a bit more before we start manipulating our current gutter system.  I’ll come back to that later.

Composting for Vegetable Garden

We’re chugging right along in our composting work.  We’ve definitely forgotten to add our scraps to the pile and turn it a few times since it’s a new habit for us, but it’s definitely getting all earthy and composty.  Our kids have also been adding to the pile and making observations about its appearance and the critters it’s attracting.  We haven’t finished our enclosure for that so it’s a work in progress all the way around.

Nature Journaling

Now that we’re starting to see some growth, it’s a great opportunity for our children to start journaling what they see.  Our kids love their art materials so we’ll see if there’s interest or if they’d prefer to continue digging in the dirt outside.  They’ve found several animal bones, including a squirrel skull, so I’m pretty sure I know what they’d rather do but we’ll see.

Additional Learning

In addition to our work for our vegetable garden, we’re also learning more about caring for the land and the existing vegetation, as well as the farmhouse and ancillary buildings.  We’re learning more about various aspects of farm life and homesteading as we work towards the goals listed above.  It all goes hand-in-hand with our homeschooling journey and I’m hoping to get around to sharing some neat homeschool/homesteading bits we’ve been learning in the kitchen soon.  

We have lots to do so we’re going to get back to work.  Currently in the queue, we also have some sensorial and math work to share as well as what’s in our morning basket, so stay tuned for that.

We hope everyone is doing well and keeping busy.  We’ve heard some neat stories from friends and family on their own gardening adventures.  

More Outdoor Practical Life in the Garden

More Montessori Homeschool Life

Thanks for stopping by!

– Kristin

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Starting a Montessori gardening program or looking to incorporate kid-friendly learning activities into your current gardening routine? Don't miss the opportunity to show your little ones how to start seeds for your garden via direct-sown or indoor start methods. Teach kids about crop rotation, how to keep deer out of your garden, AND enjoy gardening lessons together. #montessori #homeschool #gardening #montessorigardening #montessorigardeninglessons

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