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Gardeners vs wildlife - pigeons, squirrels and cats causing chaos

PUBLISHED: 11:51 06 March 2015

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

Gardeners face a lot of invaders, from pigeons gorging on young plants to squirrels digging up crocuses. But it’s those sneaky felines that get Naomi’s claws out

Gardening can be tough sometimes. You get droughts, you get floods, you get slugs. And then there are other pests – pigeons for example, not to mention squirrels and the greater spotted domestic moggy.

In my garden I have given up growing peas that are not right next to the house as the pigeons shred them (‘They watch like vultures!’ said a chap at the allotment – he’s not wrong!), and those crocuses that should be poking up about now? Probably squirrels. Or flooding, depending on how the last couple of months have gone. But my main bugbear is the neighbourhood cats that persist in leaving little calling cards about the place.

I am (ahem) known for my calm demeanour and relaxed view on life, but these feline fiends have caused some rage and vexation in the Slade household. There has been waving of fists, muttered imprecations, cursing, and less than veiled threats of investing in hand-catapults, cannons or mangonels.

But one gardener’s menace is a neighbour’s fluffy darling and the only realistic mediaeval solution would be to hire small children with crow-scarers to patrol the perimeter. And labour laws have changed since then too.

So what to do? I have no burning desire to get a cat of my own; it is a bit too ‘set a thief to catch a thief’ for comfort, and on a practical basis might backfire, as it were. And before you say it, I am not a dog person.

A quick internet trawl suggests planting rue – brilliant, apparently, if you have a hot, dry site. (I don’t). Another top tip is to leave orange and lemon peel scattered around, as they allegedly don’t like citrus. But the resulting effect, of the compost heap having gone for a walk, is not a good look.

So I am going with the tried and tested. I will stick inconvenient twiggy things into the borders to get in their way. I will endeavour to keep the grass short and tidy. I have also sent off for a product called Hot Exit from www.suttons.co.uk – the name appeals to me in a rock ‘n’ roll sort of way and the rain-proof chilli pepper formulation should be of sufficient irritation that the cats will leave my garden alone.

I hope so because it is all the heavy artillery I have. And if all else fails, I think the best remedy will be to spend more time in the garden myself.

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