Cottage Gardening Guide
With a freedom that goes far beyond the restrictions of the city, we can design the cottage garden any way we like!
Cottage Gardening Tips
Cottage gardening involves battling the deer, bugs, sore knees, and a bad back. This might not sound like the best way to spend your time at the lake but planting a garden at the cabin can be very rewarding.
It can be immaculately landscaped, weeded and groomed, or even left completely wild. Regardless of how you set it up, like and the hummingbirds, butterflies, and honey bees will all benefit from your efforts.
Here are a few things to consider before we embark on the cottage garden adventure.
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It is important to be honest about how much time we will realistically have to dedicate to the cottage garden. If we are barely keeping up with the regular maintenance, it might be a good idea to go small and simple with the garden.
We don’t have to compete with the city neighbours, but we do have to account for our neighbours in the woods. We want the plants to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, not deer and bears.
Annuals can get expensive and are a lot of work. Perennials will reseed themselves. Wildflowers are cheap and maintenance free. Mix and match according to time and budget.
Watch the sun move across the property for a day to see how much light hits the garden-to-be.
Have fun. Experiment. Plant whatever you want!
How to Extend Plant Flowering Time
To extend the flowering time of our plants we can remove the flowers before they start to go to seed. Once the flower has fully bloomed and begins to droop or change colour, remove it with a pair of garden shears to encourage the plant to bloom again. This process is called deadheading. The general rule is to cut back to the next developing bud or set of leaves. Some flowers that bloom at the end of a long stem should be cut off right at the base of the stem. It will take some trial and error to get the best results but don’t be afraid, most of the flowers are quite resilient to being aggressively trimmed.
How to Deer-Proof Plants
While a number of plants are considered deer resistant, the truth is that the deer will eat different things in different seasons and even in different years. Availability of their preferred natural plants is the main determiner of what they will eat. If the deer population around the cottage is high, and the growing conditions for their usual forage are weak, our cottage garden is likely to be the next stop on the food trail. Trial and error is the only true way to find a happy medium between us and the deer when it comes to our cottage garden.
Some Deer-Resistant Plants
Plant a border of something the deer love to eat around the edge of the garden. Hopefully they will be content to stay at the fringe.
Homemade Deer Repellent
It may be worth trying a homemade remedy to help keep white-tailed deer from the gardens and shrubs.
Place some soap shavings from a strongly scented soap in a sachet and hang it in the area frequented by deer.
A repellent spray can be used on shrubs, and plants that we don’t plan to eat.
- 4 gallons water
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon dish soap
- ½ cup milk
Mix this in a five-gallon pail and place the lid loosely on top. Allow the mixture to brew for two days and then pour it into a sprayer or watering can and spray the plants in the area that needs protection.
Make a water-based solution that uses hot sauce and dish detergent.
- 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent
- 1 ounce of hot sauce
- 1 quart of water
Place the ingredients in a water can and then sprinkle the mixture on the vegetation the deer have sampled and any others that are likely to attract attention. The detergent will help the hot sauce stick to the leaves.
Source: Gov’t of Manitoba problem wildlife page
These homemade contact repellents are environmentally friendly and do not harm the deer. However, applications on vegetables should be stopped at least two weeks before they will be consumed. Wash the vegetables thoroughly to remove any residual detergent.
How to Use Compost To Fertilize The Cottage Garden
Removing garbage from the cottage is one of those necessary headaches that comes with cottages living.
One way to reduce the number of trips to the landfill station is to compost the organic waste and use it in the cottage garden. By simply chopping the organic waste up and using a simple cottage composter, we can greatly reduce our amount of rubbish and naturally fertilize the cottage garden at the same time.
Need more Cottage Gardening Tips?
Go to the Cottage Composting page.