What are some tips for starting a cottage vegetable garden in an area with a shortage of topsoil and an abundance of herbivorous animals?
Vegetables need about a third of a metre of fertile soil, eight hours of full sun, and fairly neutral soil to flourish. Cottagers gardening on the Canadian Shield face a triple threat before even taking critters into consideration — thin soil, forested shade, and acidic soil.
If you still want to continue with your garden plans, use raised beds and fill them with either bags of sterilized topsoil or loose soil delivered from a local source to avoid introducing non-native weed seeds to the area. You should also augment the soil with lime to neutralize acidity, and use well-aged manure to up the nutrient levels. (But only do this if the garden is a good distance from the water.) “Cool” crops, such as lettuce and spinach, can be planted earlier in the season and will tolerate partial shade. Low-maintenance crops – those that don’t require regular feeding and are resilient to frost – such as carrots, peas, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes, should also do well, provided they get enough sun.
No matter what you grow, it will be a veritable smorgasbord to passing wildlife. Enclosing the garden in chicken wire is your best defence against marauders.