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How do I keep cats and possibly rats from using my first contaner garden (food) for their own litter or home or eating?

I live in Maryland in a truly urban environment, but I would love to have some help setting up my first food container garden. I don't really want to make raised beds because I'm afraid the neighborhood cats and rats will ruin it. I really would love to grow my own culinary herbs, some peppers,onions or garlic, asian veggies maybe some tomatoes and such. Could anyone give me all the details?  Is that even possible without raised beds?I have both a front and back porch and I would love it to be organic if possible . I'm a first time gardener but I've been wanting to do this for years and I really need to get it started soon.  

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Gottwinkies7 years ago
I might be too late to answer this, but here goes. We have a large feral cat population here and they did, indeed use my raised herb garden for a litter box. I tried the granules to keep them away-no dice. So I went to my fall-back idea. Roamed around the home/garden supply store for stake-type poles that were lightweight and about 3-4 ft long (dowels could have done it) and the got some bird netting (the kind you cover strawberries with to keep birds out). I drilled holes in the wood that made the sides of my raised bed-big enough to fit my stakes in (then I put the stakes in). Then I took the netting and wrapped it around the outside and against the poles. I kept the netting up with twisty ties like you get from bread or with garbage bags. They aren't super easy to remove so I can harvest herbs, but it keeps the little buggers out. Worked like a lightweight fence, but cheap and quick if you have a drill and bits the right size. I used a staple gun to anchor the netting along the bottom, since those cats did get creative and rather inventive.
GeckoBanzai7 years ago
One thing you could try if raised beds seem like a lot of work is planting in bags of soil. Simply lay the bags out in the pattern you desire, cut them open on the top and drive a pitchfork or other pointy implement through the bottom so it can drain. Then plant your plants directly into the bag. When the season is done just tip the earth onto the ground and toss the bags. This will build up your soil and will keep the weeding to a minimum.

While it might seem a bit gross sprinkling a bit of human or other large animal urine in a corner or two of your garden will keep most creatures away.
Re-design7 years ago
Cats and rats have no preference for raised beds.  THere are plants that you can plant as ornaments that cats will avoid.  I've never had a problem with rats and mice in my gardens in the 15 years I've had gardens.  But the birds and rabbits dine at their leisure.

If you let the plans grow thru a layer of chicken wire it will mostly eliminate the cat problem.  Raise the wire off the ground about 1".
wisdomgoddess (author)  Re-design7 years ago
Rabbits haven't been seen in these parts in a while. Oppossoms (too many p's and s's)and a few squirrels, definitely cats and mice and urban survivors-rats, bugs and birds of many feathers including a woodpecker who love our telephone poles. You guys/girls are really helpful. I am grateful. Peace.
You have more to worry about than just cats and rats.  There are also birds and bugs that like to munch on tender new growth.  If this is your first time gardening, grow plants that aren't so super tasty to any of these critters.  Rosemary, garlic, onions, and small hot pepper varieties (e.g., cayenne) would be easy and generally don't attract a scourge of pests - birds can't taste "heat" so they still might go for the peppers.  They also have roughly the same soil, water, and light requirements. 

For tomatoes, you can grow them upside down which will obviously discourage a lot of land animals, but in my opinion, tomatoes are more difficult than many other crops.  Their popularity is a bit misleading.  Go for an early, cherry tomato variety if you want to try for them.  I've also heard of various squash being grown upside down too. 

Parsley and chives are easy to grow.  Cilantro, for whatever reason, gives me a hard time because it'll either die or bolt.  Basil attracts a lot of bugs because it's sweet and soft, so it'll need blasts of water, picking bugs off by hand, or doses of neem oil (an organic pesticide).  There's also thyme but lay off the water.  I've killed a lot of thyme with water.

There are also potatoes which do well in large containers.  Definitely look them up because they aren't too terribly difficult and would be easy to keep pests at bay.

Baby greens are easy because you harvest them so quickly.

There are also perennial vegetables like rhubarb and asparagus, and you can also grow fruit trees and shrubs in containers.  Figs and citrus do really well in containers and can be overwintered indoors, and you can also grow blueberries although you'd need a female and a male.

So my recommendations would be:
-Early, cherry tomato in upside down container
-Garlic
-Onions
-Cayenne pepper plant or other small hot pepper plant
-Rosemary or thyme
-Parsley
-Asparagus
-Espaliered satsuma tree

That should give you a harvest of something or another throughout the year.  You'll need to look up the soil recommendations for each and probably how to do espalier (not hard).  And of course, you can do sprouts all year round.

Oh, and of course you can do all of this organically.  Select a few plants.  Read up on their requirements.  Off you go.  If you lose them all, well, you're not alone, but more than likely something will survive and produce for you.
 
wisdomgoddess (author)  AngryRedhead7 years ago
Wow thank you for all of your info. I've heard about the problems with cilantro, but I love it so I'm gonna try anyway. I am looking in my seed catalog now thanks to you with a purpose.
Depending on how much your wanting to grow you could just try buckets or planters.  For a herb garden you dont need a lot of space and if the planter or bucket is high off the ground it should deter vermin.  Also a old trick granma redneck use to use is scattering mothballs around where you don't want cats and mice.  I don't know if it's the smell or if the rats figure that if the moths balls are that big its a real big moth and stay away or what, but it works.