Protecting the jade tree, and critter capers

So… we’ve had problems with the more recent additions to our cat colony indoors. They’ve decided our plants are for them to play with and dig in.

One of the pots we’ve been trying to protect is has the parent jade trees that we brought with us when we moved. During the drive out, it got cold enough to kill some of the plants in the back of the van, and most of the jade tree died off, but it amazingly did recover and has been doing very well.

Now the cats are trying to kill it.

Mostly Cabbages, and her dirt digging, but the other cats have discovered that jade tree leaves make good toys. We’ve done a number of things to protect the plants but, with this particular pot, some cats – and we’re not sure which ones – have managed to knock aside the things we’ve used to protect it, and get right into the middle of the pot. Along with the soil being dug up, the stems of the plants were being bent outwards, with some getting snapped off.

Yesterday, I engaged in a bit of a rescue.

You can see cat toothmarks on a number of leaves!

I was able to get the pot outside – a job that required one daughter with a spray bottle to keep the cats at bay, while the other opened the doors for me.

The pipes that you see are the spare uprights from one of the shelves we put up in the old basement. The basement is too low for the full height of the shelves, so we never added on the top self. In trying to protect the several jade trees in this pot, I shoved 4 of the unused uprights from the shelf into the pot, and used them and some cotton yarn as supports.

I discovered they also work really well to water the pot. I can just pour water into a pipe to water from below. The pot is actually a self-watering pot, but the opening to the reservoir on the bottom is small and hard to get at.

In their efforts to get at the middle of the pot, the cats ended up pushing the yarn down the pipes, and they were no longer supporting the plant stems. All the stems were bent and spread outwards, like a massive spider. So I redid it, this time making sure to loop around some of the bigger stems. It should not slide down anymore.

I’m amazed by how resilient jade trees are!

After replacing the dug out soil in the middle, I had the thought that using some of the grass clippings and garden soil mix I had left over from “hilling” the potato bags might help keep the cats out of it. Then I gave the whole thing a nice shower with the hose, with water that had been warmed by the sun.

When it was brought back inside, one of the first things that happened was several cats going over to investigate.

Then start chewing on the grass clippings.

*sigh*

They were so determined to get at it, I ended up trying to put a leftover piece of wire mesh around the bottom. It wasn’t big enough, so I tried protecting the rest with a transparent recycling bag. We still had to make liberal use of the spray bottle to keep the cats away!

Of course, we couldn’t stay in the living room all evening, monitoring a plant pot. Coming back a couple of hours later, we found some determined cat had managed to get under the plastic and spread grass clippings all over the place.

And our vacuum cleaner is broken, with no budget to replace it until next month.

*sigh*

In the end, with the assistance of a daughter keeping the cats at bay while opening doors for me, we moved the pot into the sun room to keep it safe.

In the process, I discovered a piece of the jade tree had been broken off, so I stuck it into another jade tree pot; a smaller one with a plastic ring cut from the top of a Costco corn puff container to protect it.

That was yesterday.

This morning, I was awakened by the noise of cats trying to get through the screen between the basements again. There’s nothing I can do about that, so I tried to ignore it.

Then I heard the big thump.

Going into the living room, I found one of the pots with an aloe vera in it, on the floor.

Thankfully, between the dense plant and the plastic protector around it, it didn’t actually fall out of the pot and virtually no soil was lost.

As I put it back on the shelf, I saw the dirt.

The smaller jade tree, with its protective collar, had been dug into. Some small, determined cat managed to reach through the opening and get at the soil.

I moved the pot to the dining table, went back to clean up a bit, returned to the dining room, just in time to discover Susan – SUSAN!! – on the table, trying to get into the pot.

*sigh*

I ended up shoving some mesh fabric around the opening, but it looks like this pot is going to have to go into the sun room, too.

A while later, I went to do my rounds outside and found two cats on the platform under the basement window, looking at me. Possibly Turmeric and Susan. Or Saffron and Big Rig. It’s a bit hard to see through the two layers of mesh on the window.

*sigh*

I let the girls know they were there. The last time I tried to go into that basement to get cats out, I popped a kneecap on the stairs.

So… that was my start to the day. :-/

The Re-Farmer

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