For two glorious years, this garden was cat-free. And then just at the point where the garden was mostly ‘finished’ and all I needed to think about was playing with plants, a feral cat moved into the neighbourhood. And started leaving ‘gifts’ in the raised beds.
I had endless problems with cats in the last garden. They drove me to distraction, leaving poo everywhere, scaring the chickens and destroying plants with their digging. We tried so many ways of deterring them that I wrote a book about it – My Garden is Not a Cat Toilet: 101 Ways to Stop Cats Wrecking Your Garden, which I am currently serialising on new Patreon blog. You can also read Dave Hamilton’s foreword and my Introduction to the book. The rest will be behind a paywall for supporters only, until I get around to publishing a paperback/ebook version.
There are lots of solutions for dealing with cats in the garden (and I’m not anti-cat, I only talk about deterrents that don’t hurt the cat in the book), and the truth is that you do have to try a few to work out which ones work for you in your garden and for your problem cats.
As I have discrete raised beds I have been trying, for the last few months, to keep bare or recently planted soil covered so that the cat can’t dig in it. This has been reasonably successful, but I only have two net tunnels I can put over the beds. This has proved not to be enough, with the cat (of course) simply digging in another of the beds, and damaging the plants that were there before they had much of a chance to grow and fill the space. I also wanted to move one of those frames off the onions and onto the chard, which is being munched by the birds and is too tatty for us to eat. But I was worried the onions hadn’t grown enough to prevent them being killed by the cat.
The tunnels are great for tall plants, but they’re overkill on beds where the plants haven’t yet reached grown taller than the bed edging. And so I discussed with the garden’s Chief Engineer (Ryan) my idea for some raised bed covers that were a simple wooded frame covered in chicken wire.
The Chief Engineer said he needed some timber, and went to the garden centre to see whether they had anything suitable. We thought we’d probably have to go further afield, to a DIY store, but it turned out that the garden centre had reduced their wooden 1x1m raised bed kits. When they’re new they’re a whopping £70, but now that they’re a bit weathered they’ve been reduced to £12.50. The Chief Engineer felt each one contained enough timber to make two frames. He was right (and there’s some left over…).
We already had the chicken wire, and a staple gun, and I helped, so we managed to finish two frames before lunch and put them in place on the beds (one of which I’d just de-pooped. Again.). They’re not quite as large as my 1.2×1.2m beds, but they sit on top of them nicely and should be heavy enough to stay in place. They’re not heavy duty, but hopefully the wobbly nature of the chicken wire will stop the cat from exploring them too much.
So now the left hand side of the garden looks like this, with the greens protected from the birds with a mesh tunnel and two beds protected from the cat with the new frames. I’m pretty chuffed with this morning’s work!