Gardening in Cottage Country

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Basil

Leaving the hustle and bustle of city life, most of us look to relax up in cottage country in many different ways.  For some it may be by sipping a favorite beverage on the dock, or going for a tranquil canoe ride. Whatever your pleasure is there is something to be said about the rewarding and relaxing feeling associated with gardening and growing your own vegetables.

Having a vegetable garden in cottage country is not the same as having one in Southern Ontario. Contending with the shorter growing season, variable soil conditions and animals like rabbits, groundhogs, and deer do pose a challenge, but with a little perseverance one can most surely succeed.

Before embarking on your journey make sure to take some time to carefully locate the best location for your vegetable garden. Find a sunny location that will not be heavily shaded by large trees, and that is in close proximity to water for watering. Avoid areas that can be quite windy as these will dry out your garden more quickly. Last but not least find a location that will grant you the opportunity to expand as us wannabe farmers always inevitably determine that the garden is too small.

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Tomatoes

Know your soil conditions, quite often in cottage country soils can be sandy or glacial till. My suggestion over the years is to test its Ph., and amend it accordingly. If possible introduce organic matter into your soil. All too often cottagers spend time raking leaves, cutting back shrubs or cleaning up vegetation that washes up on shore. I cringe when I see these valuable materials being burned in a pile to simply dispose of them. Take the time and effort to build yourself a composting pile. It does not have to be fancy – some old wood, pallets or fencing will do, and in a short amount time you will be blessed with some rich organic matter that your plants will thank-you for.

You need to know is the length of your growing season in order to be successful. The length of your growing season is considered the time between the last frost and the first frost, Veseys has a guide you can refer to get an idea for your area (http://veseys.com/ca/en/learn/reference/frost/canada).  Also familiarize yourself with plant hardiness zones. Plant hardiness zone maps, are used by gardeners to help select which plant species can grow successfully in their area. (http://www.planthardiness.gc.ca/) Buying locally, speaking to neighbors and local garden centers will also help in educating you with respect to plants and vegetable gardening in your area.

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Asparagus

Lastly, I can unfortunately state that I’ve learned the hard way to not trust mother nature. Quite often you may get hit with a late frost in early June and early frost as early as September, so be prepared. Start your seeds early and give yourself an edge in a green house. Another great technique for extending the growing season is by using raised beds and hoop houses.

I’m not very adventurous when it comes to vegetables, but have had good success growing the following items in my garden:

  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Beets
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Asparagus
  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Horseradish

I’ve had more limited success growing the following:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Green peppers
  • Squash
  • Pumpkins
  • Collards

Happy Gardening!

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