Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cats vs the Square Foot Garden

One of the challenges I knew I would face when planning my square foot garden would be dealing with how to keep the plants in and the animals out. A lot of the vegetable gardening blogs out there talk about rabbits and squirrels digging under the boxes, birds eating the seeds, and deer jumping fences and wreaking havoc. Although I did once spot a deer on my street and a racoon sitting in one of my trees- it is the neighborhood feline that causes me headaches! I don’t own a cat myself as I'm not a huge fan. Maybe it's because I'm not a cat person that my small backyard seems to be their preferred ‘meeting’ place. I definitely don’t want my vegetable plot being used as a litter box.

I thought once I got a dog- a 100lb lab- that the cats might stay away from my yard. But it was not to be….they seem to get enjoyment out of taunting my pup (and in turn me), knowing that he cannot reach them (if he did, he would just want to play, I’m sure).

Once I finally had the boxes filled with 'Mel's Mix', it was time to take action. I needed to come up with a solution before the cats discovered a new extra large litter box! I've done some research on the web on this topic, trying to find a humane way to deter the cats. Ideas range from suggestions of sprinkling orange peel around the garden to sticking plastic forks in the ground. I decided to try to prevent them from getting into the boxes in the first place.

When the boxes were constructed, I left the corner braces sticking a few feet above, with the idea that I would be able to attach some sort of anti-cat barrier to it. I considered using chicken wire as fencing material, but I felt this look would not blend into my future plans for the design of my backyard. What I ended up using was plastic bird netting I found for around $8 at Kent, which I cut to size and attached to the box. Since it is black, it actually blends into the surroundings and is hard to tell it is even there unless you are up close. Not sure how strong it will be, if it will last or even if it will actually keep the cats out. Cats vs Square Foot Garden Round One!

Did I mention that all the neighbourhood cats love my yard? I didn’t have to wait long for a cat to arrive and inspect the new fence.

A few minutes after this photo was taken, I spied the same cat jump approximately 2 1/2 metres onto my neighbour’s deck…so jumping over the fence and into the garden is always a possibility- something I hadn't previously considered. I may have to work on a Plan B……

..Plan B...I've just stumbled across another idea that if anything is intriguing: fill old wine bottles with water, cap them, then turn them upside down in the garden box. Something about the cats not liking the shimmer of the water/glass:

It does sound kind of odd, but it sure would be fun to try! ....I don't have any empty wine bottles at the moment, but I can start working on that this weekend!


brucesee said...

Quickly- I live in Bedford. I, also, am a rookie SFGardener- started (??) in March. You have a nicer setup, mine is basic. Comments? Bruce

kristen john said...

These cats destroy my garden, How to keep cats out of garden