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Gardening Articles for week ending 21st October 2017

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Written by Wally Richards.

LABOUR WEEKEND AND CAT PROBLEMS

This time of the year people are getting outdoors (with weather permitting) to prepare garden plots for planting out seeds and seedlings of flowers and vegetables.
While you are working away weeding gardens, turning over the soil, raking it out in preparation, you likely dont notice that you are being spied on.
Yes there are beady eyes watching you, sitting up a tree, on a fence or hiding in the shrubbery.
The feline owner of the eyes is gleeful and cant wait for you to finish your preparations and go inside your home.
Once the coast is clear the four legged will creep out of hiding and cautiously stalk to the freshly prepared garden.
One paw will test the dryness of the soil and if to the cat's satisfaction will then walk around the bed looking for the spot that is best to deficicate.
Now this is a very interesting aspect and I do not know for sure if cats have the same problem that my Shar Pei dogs have, or not. I do not know if other breeds of canines also have the same toilet ritual.
When Shar Pei want to toilet they will go to an area and walk back and forth and around seeking that spot which is most satisfactory to do the business.
This toilet dance can last for a minute or two and it appears to the onlooker that if the exact right spot is not used it could be a life and death situation.
There certain is not a go somewhere and drop it. It is imperative that the ritual is followed to the T.
I often wonder if it is to do with the lines of the magnetic field of the planet or some other aspect which we dumb humans dont realise or know about?
I also note that as long as the droppings are removed (by me) afterwards then the same spot will be used next time round.
There is a preference to deficicate where there is either soil or weeds growing in the cracks of the concrete. I can see the sense in this as the microbes from the soil would help decompose the droppings better.
Anyway I have wandered away from the feline from the house next door or down the road making your freshly prepared garden a deluxe toilet facility.
The most annoying aspect is if you have already planted seeds or seedlings in the area and your work is destroyed and plantings lost.
I have at times thought that maybe the cat has the ability to know that manure is good for plant growth and hence they are assisting in your gardening endeavors.
After due consideration I have concluded they care little about gardening only a place to dump a part can of semi digested cat food.
If you own a dog and dependent on the breed and its age one thing you should never do is allow the dog to watch you garden.
They will sit there very happily watching you plant out, fertilise etc and even come over and have a bit of a sniff.
Later when you go inside they know that being Man's Best Friend they have to help where they can.
This may involve moving some plants to a better place, digging up those things that smell great like manures and blood & bone which obviously are to good for dumb plants but great to eat or roll in for that great smell.
Manure to a dog can be like perfume to us.
So always put the dog indoors and close the blinds while working in gardens otherwise have tall raised gardens.
If using blood & bone or sheep pellets, BioBoost and other animal manures and even some good composts cover with soil where able and give the area a good watering before allowing your pooch free range.
What started this dialogue was an email this week which said: Many thanks for the gardening article and look forward to more and enjoyed our very informative chat. However I did forget to tell you about one of my latest wins.
It went something like this. Having had a lot of problems with cats digging in my vegetable garden, ripping out plants, seeds not even germinated & not content with leaving their deposits behind.
Very frustrating. A neighbour told me to put sheep pellets around the plants and between the rows of seeds.
Been there 10- 14 days now no mess or digging. Here’s hoping it will continue. You may well like to share this with any other people who have a similar problem.. (Thank you)
I had not heard previously that sheep manure pellets would deter cats but I do know it can work on possums as the pellets are a combination of wool and manure made from pelleted sheep dags.
It is the lanolin from the wool that deters possums and likely in the case of cats the smell of the manure.
I have also had a couple of readers tell me that after using our Wally Neem Tree Granules in their vegetable garden it stopped the cats using it as a toilet.
The granules are not attractive to dogs so maybe a better solution if you have a pup or dog which the sheep pellets maybe be lollies from heaven to them.
We have Wallys Cat Repellent which is Naphthalene (Same chemical as mothballs which are now banned) The crystals are sprinkled around the area you want to protect and they do deter 90% of the local cats from my experience. (Likely ones suffering with nasal problems are not affected)
Do not put the Cat Repellent on the soil where you are growing food crops as it is a chemical and you certainly dont need any extra chemicals in your food chain.
I suggest to take a 2 litre plastic milk bottle, cut off the bottom, place a good size rock at the handle end to prevent it blowing around.
Place about a tablespoon of the Cat Repellent inside the bottle and lay it down where you want to protect. Also remove the cap.
'The naphthalene will stay dry inside and last for weeks as apposed to that which gets weathered on.
A few milk bottles laying in gardens and on your bark gardens may help keep your place cat toilet free. (Remember years ago people putting plastic bottles of water on their front lawns believing that dogs would not toilet near water?
It did not work but I do recall driving around and seeing street after street of plastic bottles on lawns)
The Cat Repellent does work on most cats as I think the smell would be like a great big moggie had marked its territory and no way would the cat want to be around if he came back.
There is also a product called Skunk Shot which you apply the paste onto golf tees stuck into the ground which puts off most dogs but how effective it is on cats I dont know.
Another idea is to provide a deluxe toilet for wandering cats to use instead of your garden beds.
One of those plastic shell shaped paddling pools would be ideal filled with dry sand. Ideally placed where the sand is sheltered from rain. No good if you have young children as people find out when they make a sand pit for the children.
Have a great Labour Weekend and hopefully some nice days to do some gardening.