Nov 022011
Seemingly innocent cat

This cat looks innocent, but it's not!

I walked out into the garden today to look at my newly dug and seeded beds, only to find that the cats, mine and neighbor’s used it for their very own latrine. Actually disgusting. Because this poop harbors unsafe pathogens and is really stinky we don’t want it in our garden beds. Although I love to put up photographs of what I’m writing about, I will spare you this one.


What to do. Physical barriers, like netting, row coversand fencing are helpful in some areas. But it can be a lot of work to put them up.  I found this great mat, called a Cat Scat Mat that you lay down on the bed and it has prickly plastic things sticking up that the cats can’t walk on. Very useful for seed beds and smallish areas.

Cat Scat Mats, Set of 5 by Gardener’s Supply Company
Cats are also fastidious about licking their paws and if you sprinkle the ground with cayenne pepper, it is reputed to be effective. Let me know if this works for you.
When you do have to clean up the poop, be sure to wear gloves and DO NOT put it in your compost.  Ignoring the fact that I have written that everything natural composts, you don’t want to put anything that has pathogens into your pile if you cannot guarantee that you can get the pile hot enough.
I suggest you use biodegradable waste bags that you put in your garbage. You can find them here. Or you can use these in the ground pet waste composters. These are just for animal wastes.
As a matter of fact, I think I better write about what is NOT good to put into your compost.
The great and wonderful lab, also poops

We love our animals, but also have to deal with their poop appropriately

Check back soon, very soon.
Sep 142011

What is a pest?  In a garden an animal can be a pest one day and not the next.  One of our most beloved members of the garden is the Bird. They’re beautiful, they sing, the eat insects, we NEED birds in the garden. BUT… they can also be incredibly damaging to our crops.

In the Spring song birds come flocking into the garden.   They can absolutely devastate your early crops by pecking at the leaves and pulling them out of the ground.  One way you can tell the difference between snail and slug damage and bird damage, is that a bird will leave a triangular peck in the leaf, like this > from its beak. A slug or snail will have an uneven  edge eaten. The easiest and most effective way I have found to deal with birds is to cover the beds.  I do this by putting a wire cover over the bed and lay bird netting over that. It allows the plants room to grow and keeps out all the birds.

Edible Landscapes need protection

Wire and netting over beds for protection from birds

The wire is cut to the size of the bed.  It is then gently put over the bed like a hoop.  I peg in the bottoms with wire staples  or a stick.  After the wire is in place, I put bird netting over it and tuck in all the corners.  I don’t recommend chicken wire, because it has many sharp edges, gets rusty and you can get caught on it too easily. This green coated wire is not expensive and easy to use.  The coating keeps it looking good and prevents it from rusting.

Bird netting works very well

Bird netting over wire hoop keeps the birds away from your vegetables

The next photo shows how I put the bird netting over the wire. It’s important to keep it pegged in at the edges so that birds don’t get caught inside the netting.

When the plants are up to the top of the wire I take it off and by then, the plants are no longer of interest to the birds.  They want something more tender.

Simple Dog Barrier

How can a bamboo stick keep a large dog out of the strawberries

How can bamboo sticks keep a large dog out of the strawberries?

I know this may seem ridiculous, but in the photo above I used small bamboo sticks to create a little fence around my strawberries.  I found that my large Black Labrador Retriever would walk through the strawberries and do his stuff right in the middle.  Big Yuck.  Once I put up this little barrier, he walked around the bed and we never had a problem.  My point here, is that sometimes you can find very simple and easy solutions to a vexing problem.

It’s also the case that a beloved member of the family can be a pest as well.


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