6.10.2006

What to do with what's in the catbox


I tried to grow catnip when I lived in the city. It was puny and I never remembered to water it enough. Here on the farm it grows like a weed (well, I guess it is a weed or, as my mom calls weeds, "volunteers"). Look at this crazy plant!

So here I've hung some to dry, perfect for crazy-cat-making, catnip mouse-stuffing, kitty egg-roll-rolling, or whatever the feline heart desires.

The deer, rabbits, and birds do not eat catnip. They do however, eat most things you try to grow on purpose and wish to eat yourself. Hence, I further define my terms.
Plant: I want to eat it.
Volunteer: A plant that I do not want to eat, which may be prickly, itchy, thorny, poisonous, tall, scraggly and/or ugly, and will probably kill every other plant as defined above that I actually slaved over in the first place, and that rabbits, deer, and birds will likely never touch.

Case in point: strawberries. We planted two rows of them last year, so this will (cross fingers) be the first year of fresh berries. This spring they started to blossom, and then the blossoms began to turn into little green berries. However, three mornings ago, they no longed looked leafy, blossomy, or fruity. Instead, they looked like this:

Now, I admit that am new to gardening, and perhaps overly attached to the promise of plucking ripe, red fruits after weeks of weeding, mulching, and babying, not to mention waiting a year for berry-bearing to commence. But this is the garden-equivalent to having a nearly-completed sweater frogged--by someone else in the middle of the night!

Energency measures were immediately taken, not only to prevent further decimation of this year's crop, but to protect the fifteen new plants (next year's berries) we were putting in. Family opinions on strategy varied widely. Shown here are (1) the aluminum pie pan--Dad holds that the noise scares away the nocturnal visitors; (2) pantyhose dangling with deodorant soap chunks, which my mom read smells strong enough to repel unwanted guests; and (3) my contribution, containers of particularly malodorous used kitty litter. Now, I don't know if the deer and rabbits can tell the difference between bobcat, mountain lion, and housecat scent, and there's no way to know which of our three methods is working, but two days later the berries are untouched.

My mom, a physiologist by trade, is very disappointed that we are not gathering actual test data on the varying methods, but we told her berries are too valuable to gamble on science. From an economic point of view, I also consider used soap ends, old pantyhose, piepans, and cat box scat to be a virtually cost-free (not to mention inexhaustible) arsenal worth expending on this endeavor.

The deer also started in on the raspberries (can you see all the little berries?), and if they get my raspberries I'm really going to be upset. If the cat box leavings work, maybe it's a good thing we got another cat so we can up our production. You think I could sell the stuff on eBay as "natural organic garden pest repellent"?

By the way, if you made it to the end of this post, you are extremely patient and kind. If you did not click on the bobcat/mountain lion link, you are really missing out, it is truly fascinating. (Did you know there is such a thing as "butterfly pee"?) Gee, wonders never cease.

5 comments:

RheLynn said...

interesting ideas - all of them. We lost an entire row of beets to deer -- never knew they liked them! I think they stay away from our boss' strawberries because they are near enough to the fence that the Great Danes can scare the living daylights out of them ;o)

good luck on your strawberries and raspberries!

kat said...

I love the hint about the cat leavings. My grandmother in law had bought pee from some wild cat or other for her many deer problems. I think it was pretty expensive. I think you could totally market it on ebay. Especially if it has the image of some deity or other on it ;)Love your blog, good luck with your farming. I'm so envious. One day.

KJ

Obsidian Kitten said...

yes, some feline deity on it: "The Holy Essence of Bastet" or somesuch. Or, since aromatherapy and essential oils are all the rage, we'll simply market it as the Garden-Protecting Essential Oil of Bast...

hmmm, maybe you and me gonna get rich!

Carrie K said...

I will never forgive you for teasing me into clicking that link. Or is that never forgive myself? They charge for urine??? I did not know that. Yikes.

I caught a couple of raccoons snagging the strawberries and washing them in the birdbath next to them last night. Yikes. Raccoons are cute, but there are a lot of cats in the neighborhood.

Obsidian Kitten said...

washing them in the birdbath?! the nerve of those little guys! LOLOL