Vegetable seeds have been getting gently tucked into the garden beds for several weeks now, but neighborhood cats have been a major problem. They see this seemingly “empty” area of fine textured soil and think it would make a great litterbox. Adding composted steer or chicken manure to your beds is one thing, but cat poop should not be in your beds. Cats can transmit parasites through their feces, some of which can infect humans.
A full garden bed is one deterrent – they can’t find a nice, open space to use. But most of our garden beds are pretty sparse this time of year with just a few seedlings getting started. And nothing makes me more miffed than seeing a perfectly planted bed tossed around, seeds and all, but an uninvited guest.
I bought some thin rebar, then hammed it every 3′ along the inside edges of my raised beds. You don’t see it when it’s placed inside the beds and I hammer it down to just above soil level. My beds are 20″ high and I used 2′ long rebar.
I then rigged cut lengths of thin pvc pipes across the beds, held in place over the rebar. My beds are 4′ wide, so I cut the pvc pipes to about 6-8′ in length. I suggest you measure and cut on site, to make sure your hoops will be the right height once stretched over your beds. You can hold the netting in place with twist ties (like from a bread bag).
These temporary hoops are not the most attractive sight, but I have yet to find a better, low-cost solution. Some folks build wooden frames that serve the same purpose, but those are more of an investment of time and money. And wooden frames might not be feasible over larger beds, like mine which are 4′ x 8′ each.
The plastic mesh can be used to deter other critters as well. Throw it over blueberries to keep the birds from eating your harvest. You can cover dwarf fruit trees to save the fruit from becoming deer food.
The mesh hoops serve a dual purpose for us, as they also support our greenhouse plastic during cold months when we cover our raised beds. That extends our growing season, but also means we’re looking at the pvc pipes all year. I’m all for beauty, but when it comes to food production I prefer a fuller harvest basket over a picture-perfect garden.
Do you have any other ideas for keeping critters outside your beds? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!