I like to use a fish emulsion in my organic vegetable garden because it provides good nitrogen for my growing vegetables. The problem with this practice, unfortunately, is that my neighbors’ cats think I planted fish in my garden for them to dig up!
This is very frustrating as I’m sure you know if you’ve had pests digging up your garden. These cats would even dig through my one planter filled with one plant, knock it over with their digging and spill half the dirt out!
The cats had no fear of me whatsoever. They would prance around with me puttering in the garden. But, if I walked over to the garden hose, they would take off! Apparently this was the method other neighbors used to shoo them away and they were familiar with it.
Stuckys on Route 66
Not only would they dig in my garden but they liked it so much they settled in and used it as a rest stop if you catch my drift. This is very unsanitary and hazardous to your health. You can catch toxoplasmosis or E. coli by coming into contact with cat feces, not washing thoroughly, or touching your mouth. (Toxoplasmosis is especially damaging to your unborn fetus if you are pregnant and can cause serious birth defects.)
I had to come up with something because I was losing this battle. Some people suggested putting plastic forks into the soil with the tines sticking straight up from the ground. The cats would not like it and stay out. This didn’t work. There was no place for me to step to pull weeds or tend to my vegetables and flowers without stepping on a fork. Sometimes I would forget the forks were there and get scratched. (By the fork, not a cat.)
Orange and lemon peels did not work against these cats. Ammonia placed in open jars did not work. Red pepper sprinkled around my garden did not work either.
Another suggestion was to lay chicken wire flat across the garden. Cats wouldn’t like this because their nails would get stuck in the wire when they began digging. I bought the chicken wire but I didn’t use it for my garden because I already had vegetables growing and it wasn’t practical to cut the chicken wire around the established plants.
Finally, I came across a suggestion that worked: pine cones. For some reason, cats are afraid of them. I had to put one in my planter because this one particular cat insisted on going in it. The planter wasn’t big enough for any cat but this cat didn’t seem to know that. The pine cone kept the cat out and neither has bothered my plant since. This summer, my plant in that planter is a tomato plant and it’s doing very well despite its big pine cone companion.
I am fortunate that I planted pine trees on my property years ago so that I have an abundance of pine cones. I usually find the cones when I’m mowing the lawn. But if you don’t have pine trees nearby, you can buy pine cones in any hobby shop.
I also use tree bark in my garden which I purchased at a local garden store. The bark helps to keep the soil moist and keep weeds to a minimum. Cats don’t like tree bark either. They don’t like to walk on anything that feels rough to their paws so keep that in mind.
Pine cones and tree bark are a safe way to keep cats out of your garden without fear of hurting them and at minimal cost to you. Your plants and vegetables will be safe and most importantly, so will you.
More From Marcella:
How to Grow a Vegetable Garden with No Effort