Living in town presents its unique challenges to veggie gardening. True, I do not have—at least, not yet—deer roaming through my yard eating the tops of tomato plants and, so far, I have not had raccoon issues, but there is still one nasty animal that loves the back yard—the cat. It’s not really the cats (four or five on them claim parts of our yard) that are the problem, it is their poop. I am always hunting for new ways to keep cats out of the garden… I used to create a barrier of sticks placed in complex patterns over the beds, some pointing up to spear a squatting cat in the behind at a delicate moment, but it was a bother. I moved to chicken wire, which was also annoying; I found myself muttering “patience is a virtue” over and over as I unrolled it, and then, if I did not get it off in time, it decapitated the green beans. Such a pain. Then I tried remay covered hoops, which worked fine with an old and lazy cat, but not the young ones. Lucy loved to walk on it and tear through, then Kayli slid inside where it was warm, squashed a few kale plants, and takes a nap.
I’ve had a few successes. The cold frame works well in the early parts of the year—pop the plants into the ground and cover them with glass. Lucy walks all over it but never lays a paw on the soil. Kayli cannot slide in for a nap, although she tries. Planting out seedlings, rather than seeds, establishes a certain amount of garden turf early on. Straw mulch is quite effective in cutting back the poop—but really encourages the naps. Right now, I have a new experiment—black planting paper. I don’t like the plastic mulch—we don’t need any more plastic in the world and the bio-degradable stuff, I’m not so sure about. But the paper looks pretty nice. I lay down the soaker hose, spread the paper on the bed, and cut through to plant the squash vines. The paper heats the soil and keeps down the weeds (this was the potato bed last year, and they just keep coming…) and keeps the cats from digging. It was not very expensive, either. I’ll see how it does, but I think I may have outsmarted the cats….