Earth Day 2020: Creating a Family Garden

Guest blogger, Marylee Mercy, is a Staff Architect and Awesome Mom! She shares her garden project instructions, supply list, and why having a family garden was so important to her and her family.

I have always liked the idea of a kitchen garden: a miniature veggie farm right outside the back door, a place that would feed my family and teach my children self-sufficiency and to care for the Earth. My husband and I bought a fixer-upper house in 2013, and although we have put a massive amount of work into the house itself, the yard has remained low on the priority list. Literally built in a clearing in the woods, the property was completely overgrown with wild grapes, raspberries, weeds of all varieties, and poison ivy. It was backbreaking work just to scrape out a clearing large enough to be called a “yard,” and only by those feeling generous. With the addition of newborns, in 2017 and again in 2019, realistically a garden became less and less attainable, yet more and more desirable.

Due to the COVID-19 regulations, my family has been homebound since March 23rd. After a few weeks of juggling working from home while caring for two toddlers, we have learned to make the most of our weekends. Warming springtime temperatures and grocery store shortages had me seriously revisiting the idea of how to make a garden work for my busy family. I poked around on the Internet for ideas and developed a plan with the following goals in mind:

  • Simple and extremely practical
  • Quickly and easily assembled
  • Inexpensive
  • Deer-proof (and rabbit-proof, bird-proof, squirrel-proof, etc….)
  • No significant maintenance

In total I spent about $120 on materials for a basic raised bed with soil. I spent an additional $100 to make it critter-proof and to turn it into a convertible greenhouse, which saved my plants a week later when we got 3” of unseasonable snow. It took about an hour to purchase the materials and about three hours to build (it could have been done faster but we made it up as we went along). It was built during naptime, with my eldest child asleep in the house and my youngest asleep in a portable crib next to where we were working.

I am extremely fortunate to be able to have the space, time, and resources to create and maintain a garden. Many others cannot. I hope that by making my family even just a little more self-sufficient, we can free up resources for others who so desperately need them, especially during this pandemic.

If you’d like to create a raised garden this weekend, here’s a link to Marylee’s supply list and instructions: 2020 Earth Day Garden Bed Tutorial



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