Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pe(s)ts in the Garden

There was a time when my garden nemesis looked like this.

Yes, I know.  He's cute and fuzzy and he's staring at you with those big brown eyes.  Nemesis indeed.  But he didn't come alone.  He brought his brother and sister and mom, and then dad, a cousin or two.....  What I learned about deer during that time is twofold.  They will eat everything.  What they won't eat are daffodils. 

There are no deer on PEI.  This makes me very happy.  However, despite my deerless existance, trouble free gardening is not mine to be had.  A new nemesis has come to play.  I could never have imagined that it would be so close to home, my own cats have turned against me.

Who me?
Yes, my sweet, furry, purr monsters.  Even Gino, my garden buddy, who knows to use a litter box and so found a nice large one in the shape of my vegetable beds.  If it was the neighbour's cat I'd be outraged and stamp my feet but they are mine.  So while I'm stamping my feet anyway I must own the problem and find a solution.

I've had to start thinking creatively.  First I tried throwing some branches over the whole thing.  But that didn't stop anybody.

Next I tried breaking up the sticks and planting them vertically in the soil.  Aha!  I think we're onto something.

The next morning I checked and there was a paw print in the dirt but only one.  The intruder was stopped in his tracks.  Score one for me.

The following day I found this.
Score one for the cats.

The sticks in that spot were somewhat small so I have now planted LARGE sticks in this spot with lots of branches and sharp bits.  We'll see who wins this round.

Now I have to give credit where credit is due.  This wasn't an original idea on my part.  I was inspired by Carol at May Dreams.  In her quest to rid the May Dreams Garden of rabbits she decided to Fork her garden.  Or Spoon as the case may be.  Without her experiments in plastic cutlery I would be helpless.  And that is why I love garden blogs.  There is an endless amount of creative energy out there, solving garden problems one at a time.  People sharing what they know and doing it with wit and charm.  Garden bloggers make up an amazing community of people who have a lot to give and do it so willingly.  Thank goodness I found you guys!


  1. Let me know if this works, the neighbours cats think my raised beds are better then their litter box! At least cleaning up after your own kids is better then cleaning up after a neighbours, I assume.

  2. That's a fabulous idea! I hope it keeps the cat out of the beds. Those furry little kitties. Trouble! Cute, adorable, lovable trouble!

  3. Ah...I recognize your original nemesis. We have them all here, fawns, does, bucks...all their aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. I'm rather jealous that you don't have deer on PEI. No, actually, I'm very jealous! I must admit thought, there aren't so many outdoor cats here (the bobcats and coyotes get them). If the sticks and cutlery fail, for short crops, you could try using row covers. They work great, especially for those crops that thrive in cooler weather like lettuces, chard, spinach etc. (they also help keep out 'possums, raccoons, and bunnies too).

  4. Count me in the jealous camp. We have fat suburban deer here who barely bother to move away when I yell at them. I toss rocks too but I throw like a girl.

    And they mock me.

  5. It's weird, I live in the country with oodles of deer around. They never seem to touch anything but the leaves in my pepper plants, and maybe my stock flowers. Other than that, they don't touch anything. Of course now that I've said that, they'll eat everything. lol

  6. @Kilbournegrove - I have a hard enough time cleaning their real litter boxes. Cleaning out my beds of their mess is not my idea of fun!

    @Laura - I can think of some other names I was tossing around this week besides cute and adorable. I think I may have been cured of my cat addiction.

    @CurbstoneValleyFarm - If this doesn't work my next plan of attack was raised netting to cover the beds. Although row covers might be easier to put up. Wonder if that would help keep the crows out as well, they are scratching up and eating the new seeds.

    @LifesHighway - That was exactly the problem we had in our last home. Curse, yell, throw things. They look at your like you've gone mad and simply continue eating the latest 'deer proof' plant you've purchased at an outrageous price.

    @Kyna - Be very very very thankful.

  7. Think your cats have the same problem as ours. You see, the only soft place to dig, is where the gardener has done the preliminary work. But then we aren't growing veg, just fruit trees.

  8. @Elephant's Eye - You're absolutely right. One of the issues is that the entire yard is covered in grass, not very conducive to digging. I've wondered if things will improve once I've dug more flower beds, etc. Even considered just digging a spot strictly for cats but it's unlikely they will dig where I want them to!

  9. Marguerite, I had no idea that there were no deer on PEI. Like Clare, I'm envious (although not as envious as she is because I don't have as big a deer problem). If you tell me that PEI also doesn't have woodchucks, I may just pick up and move there! -Jean