Need to repel cats from a vegetable or flower bed? Of course, the easiest way is to lay a wire net across the ground, supported by bricks. Cats won't step on it. But the best organic gardening ideas are the simplest. Just lay some thorny rose clippings or brambles on the ground.
Other organic gardening tips to repel cats are to post sticks steeped in garlic paste, chilli oil or chamomile essence around your beds. You could also grow French marigolds (Tagetes patula) which have a strong odour. Or lay cordons of garam masala, curry powder or other species. Cats hate strange fierce scents.
Alternatively, you could take some hot chilli pepper seeds and steep them in olive oil for several months. Soak cardboard strips in this fierce cat repellent and put it about your seedbed or most precious plants.
You can even mix this strong-smelling oil 1:5 with water plus a little washing up liquid and apply it directly to your plants. Not only will this deter many insect pests but cats will also keep clear.
The simplest cat repellent is citronella oil, available at health food stores. You need just 100 drops of citronella to a pint of water. Scatter it daily around your garden till the cats learn to keep off. A quick substitute is fresh lemon or grapefruit peel.
An idea that's hardly organic - but it works - is to sink small plastic bottles about the plot with a few teaspoonfuls of ammonia in them. It's harmless to cats because they won't come within ten paces of that strong smell.
It's easy to make a more permanent cat repellent from a larger plastic bottle. Pack the bottle with any absorbent cloth that won't degrade, such as old nylon stockings or socks, even glass-wool insulation. Tease out a length of this material to form a wick. Add a cupful of one of the odorous liquids already mentioned.
The bottle will protect its strong smelling contents from the weather and a few of these little bio-repellents, buried or hung about your garden, will repel even Tom and Jerry.
A wicked way to repel cats from a garden
Organic gardeners have reported good results by setting out plastic sealed tubs, perforated at the sides, containing dog faeces. This idea is not for fastidious gardeners but cats will scat!
Needless to say, don't lay the faeces of any carnivorous animal - including human faeces - on your garden soil itself, even around flowers. Soil contaminated in this way can cause a variety of ailments, especially to inquisitive children.
A proven cat repellent is the urine of tigers, lions or any 'large cat'. It banishes all warm-blooded pests. If you're lucky enough to live near a zoo, you need only ask.
Cats often become pests around bird boxes. Keep cats away by growing prickly brambles around the trees or posts that support the boxes.
Here's a natural gardening tip: cut a sheet of metal from a large can, the kind that holds catering oils. Fold it around the base of the tree that holds your nesting box. Few cats will venture up that slippery collar. It will baffle even squirrels.
None of these cat repellents will harm your cats, unless they eat them. And cats have too much sense for that!
Dr John Yeoman PhD is founder of the information network for natural gardening ideas, the Gardening Guild. Enjoy hundreds of clever strategies to grow more food in your garden with less money and labor in his practical manual Lazy Secrets for Natural Gardening Success. Claim it entirely free at: http://www.gardeningguild.org/lazy
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