Our 2022 garden: fixing kitten damage, and finding strange things

Don’t let this ball of adorableness fool you!

This is a ferocious and destructive little beast!

Yesterday, I fixed up the mesh covered beds with the fall spinach, making sure to peg down the sides of the netting so the kittens couldn’t get under.

This morning…

Well… they didn’t get under it.


When I came out, there were kittens sitting on the mesh, looking at me.

I took this photo after I’d taken out all the pegs. The mesh needed more support, but I don’t have any more of the metal stakes I used to slide the hoops over.

What I did still have were some pieces from the canopy tent a piece of tree had fallen on last year. Most of the pieces from the dismantled frame are being used around various garden beds, but there were two longer pieces that had snapped near their middles that were still around, leaving me with four lengths with one rough end.

So I stuck them in the spaces between the hoops, broken ends into the soil, thinking maybe I could lash or zip tie hoops to them. Which wouldn’t be very stable, but as I pushed the pieces into the soil, I remembered that they all have screw holes at the ends. I’ve been using those holes to threat twine through.

So that’s what I did. After lashing the bamboo poles back across the hoops, I began stringing twine through and across the metal pieces, the hoops and the poles.

With kittens rolling around, playing in the netting, rolling across the bed, and generally getting underfoot.

I could see that some spinach from the first sowing had started to germinate, and the seedlings are all flattened.


Well, at least the netting has enough support to keep it from collapsing.

For now.

As I was cleaning up and about to put things away, something odd in the path caught my eye.

This was just sitting in the dirt in the path.

It wasn’t there yesterday.

It is not ours. The girls and I don’t have anything like this. Which means it is probably something that was left among my parents’ stuff, though I don’t recall ever seeing it before. Where it came from and how it got into the path of the old kitchen garden is a mystery!

The Re-Farmer

Morning critters and… *sigh*

Well, I guess it was too much to hope for.

The cats got into one of the aloe vera we moved out of the large aquarium greenhouse, to make room for seed starts.

They even went after the one that was the most barricaded! As you can see by the aloe looking like it was carefully set aside, it’s not the plants they want. It’s the dirt!

Repotting that and figuring out how to protect it, is a job for later today.

The new location for the mini-greenhouse seems to be working well. It was getting direct sunlight this morning, on all levels. With the aluminum foil around the sides and back, the seedlings were getting light from all sides. I’m rather pleased with that.

We had a much warmer morning today, almost no wind, and lots of sunshine, so I took advantage of that.

So did the outside cats! I counted 17 of them outside, plus there was one in the sun room, so they are all accounted for.

I startled our usual 3 deer away from the feeding station, but they were running back almost before I finished putting out the seed.

I then took advantage of the conditions and got the burn barrel going. It’s a lot harder to burn off the wood pellet cat litter, when it it’s too cold for it to dry out.

Then, in between tending the burn barrel, I started clearing out the paths that were blown in by the high winds we’ve had recently.

I actually enjoy shovelling, so I just kept going, and ended up clearing all the paths, in both the inner and outer yards.

I found Potato Beetle enjoying his sun spot, when I cleared a path to the front of the garage. 🙂

I even took the time to break up the ice and snow near the cat’s house to haul it away. There was no more room for the ice from the metal water bowls anymore. With things warming up as they are, I also cleared the roof of the cat house of most of the snow, and even the snow overhang on the kibble house. I considered clearing the kibble house roof, too, but by then, I was done for the day!

The problem with doing all the shovelling is that, once I stop, that’s when things start to hurt! As soon as I sat down, my entire body started to stiffen up and ache. *sigh* Thankfully, though, there was a hot breakfast and a pot of tea made. Between that and some painkillers, I’m going all right. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: reboot and new set up

Quite a few seedlings, pots and trays got moved around today. The only things that didn’t need to be moved where the onion seedlings, inside the small aquarium greenhouse. That tank doesn’t fit a lot, so they get to be undisturbed for now.

These are the survivors of the Great Cat Crush.

They are still struggling, but it looks like most of them will make it.

Also, the second seed in the cup with the Canteen gourd sprouted! That makes for a 100% germination rate on those!

As for the luffa, there were two peat pots, with nothing coming up, so more luffa seeds were set to soak, this morning.

Last time, the seed coats were scarified by carefully snipping them with nail clippers. In the off chance that they were damaged by this, I used sandpaper on an edge of each seed, instead.

When it was time to plant them, I used the tip of a chopstick to loosen the seed starting soil – and see if I could find the old seeds. I found only one (there should have been 2 in each pot), and it was just the shell, completely empty.

Hopefully, we will have better luck with the new seeds.

I also decided to do more Wonderberry. We started seeds in two Red Solo cups, and one of them now has a second seedling in it. The other, nothing. So a few more seeds were used to try again. We do still have some left over.

Next to do were the Sophie’s Choice and Cup of Moldova tomatoes. There were barely even stems left with the Sophie’s Choice, and all the leaves on the Cup of Moldova were withered away. These were the ones we transplanted to thin out of the original pots. While a cat destroyed the Sophie’s Choice seedlings, I still don’t know what happened with the Cup of Moldova seedlings. They had been doing so very well, after transplant. 😦

We reseeded the Sophie’s Choice minimally, and still have some seeds left. I managed to get a couple of seeds into each Cup of Moldova pot (though I noticed some seeds were stuck together, so a few have more), and finished off the packet. If these don’t work, then all we’ll have is anything that survived the Great Cat Crush.

The newly planted seeds went into the big aquarium greenhouse. My daughter has hung her orchids in front of the window, and I found a place for our aloe that will hopefully dissuade the cats from digging in their dirt. That allowed me to set up a surface for a second tray.

The Sophie’s Choice, luffa and Wonderberry are on the heat mat, and there was space enough for a metal tray to hold the Cup of Moldova on the other side. The Red Solo cups don’t fit in the black trays as well. If they weren’t the exact size for the mini-greenhouse, I’d be using nothing but those baking trays!

Speaking of the mini-greenhouse…

We emptied that out, removed the plastic cover, then lined the back and sides with heavy duty aluminum foil. The whole set up is now closer to the window for more natural light.

The remaining seedlings went back into the mini-greenhouse. The shallots are now in here, along with the two other Canteen gourds that sprouted while in the big aquarium greenhouse, as is the sprouted Wonderberry. The new location should mean more natural sunlight – especially first thing in the morning – and the aluminum should help reduce any stretching towards the light from the seedlings. They’ll still be checked and turned as needed, of course. Eventually, it’ll be moved even closer to the window, but it’s still too cold for that.

I had hoped to be able to block the front opening of the cover with the window screen we used to use on top of the small aquarium greenhouse, but it’s not big enough to keep the cats out. So, we have the little fan inside again. Since today is quite overcast, I’ve also added the light fixture that also provides a bit of heat. There’s another lamp we use, but it doesn’t fit inside the mini-greenhouse, and will sit in front, instead.

The tray with the baggies of paw paw and tulip tree seeds is back on the top shelf, where it has the least amount of light, but is also the warmest. It should still be a while before we start seeing anything happening with those.

You know, all of this would be a lot easier, if we didn’t have to protect everything from cats! 😀 One or two shelves in the living room window, and we’d be done.

Ah, well. It is what it is!

Hopefully, the newly planted seeds and the new set up for the mini-greenhouse will work out.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: lost?

Well, that “blowing snow advisory” has certainly been valid.

My husband noticed the piebald deer heading for the kibble house again, so I figured that was a good time to empty the kitchen compost bucket – and get her away from the kibble. When I opened the door from the sunroom, pausing to take this photo, she just stared at me until she saw me moving outside.

I don’t think she appreciated the interruption of her snack!

I topped up the kibble for the cats, while I was out.

Since it was a quick run to the compost pile, I hadn’t bothered putting on a coat. It was only -12C/10F, after all!

Of course, that didn’t take the wind chill into account. I don’t know what it was at the time, but we’re at -13C/9F right now, and the wind chill is -23C/-9F. Brrrr!!!!

But I’m thinking of spring as we tend the seedlings. I’d mentioned in my last post that the seedlings in the mini-greenhouse were not looking well, so I decided to get some photos to show what I meant.

At which point I discovered I’d forgotten to drop and zip closed the front of the plastic cover.

Much to my surprise, the cats have made no attempt to go into it! Perhaps they’ve satisfied their curiosity already. I decided to leave it open, for now.

These are the Cup of Moldova seedlings that got potted up as we thinned them out. They are actually looking worse now than this morning, and I don’t know why. They had been doing quite well after being transplanted, then suddenly… this.

Were they over watered? Too hot in the mini-greenhouse? Not enough light? Not enough air circulation? Any or all of the above? I have no idea. I’m hoping that leaving the front of the cover open will be helpful.

The Sophie’s Choice that got eaten are… well, the two that were down to just stems are dead, but the ones that still have leaves on them… I don’t know. They might still survive.

These are the ones that got repotted after a cat lay on and crushed the original pots they were in. They actually are doing better than anything else in the mini-greenhouse. The damage done to them is more visible now. Surprisingly, the peppers and eggplants that got the most shmooshed are doing pretty good! The remaining tomatoes are showing damaged leaves, but beyond that, they look like they will recover.

I guess we’ll see over the next few days, how many are complete losses, and how many will survive.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: NOOOooooo!!!!!


For all our efforts, a cat still managed to get into the mini-greenhouse. My daughter found Susan … SUSAN! … sitting on the second lowest shelf. I would have expected Tissue, or even Turmeric, but not Susan! My daughter got her out but Susan didn’t seem to be into anything, so she thought things were okay.

I went over to see where she got in and how to block it better, when I saw this terrible sight.

She ate the Sophie’s Choice tomato leaves! Two of them, right down to the stems! A couple others even looked like the soil was dug into.

I took the trays off the two bottom shelves, rearranged the box we put to block the back and used packing tape under the corners, taping the plastic cover to the bottom shelf. Hopefully, there are no more gaps a cat can squeeze into.

The tray with the eaten tomato seedlings then went onto the bottom, where the light is, and the tray with the gourd pots went up a level.

There is a Canteen gourd breaking soil, so there’s at least that to be happy about.

We still have some Sophie’s Choice seeds left, so we can start some again, but the instructions for these said to start them much earlier than other varieties. Hopefully, we still have time.

Hopefully, some of what we already have will survive, too.

Once that was all done, it was time to do some research and…

Yes. Tomato leaves ARE toxic to cats. However, it takes quite a bit to make them sick, and quite a bit more to endanger their lives. For the amount she ate, she might throw up or something, but nothing major.

This is just so, so frustrating! And potentially alarming.

We’ve had issues with cats going after our plants before. Usually to dig in the dirt, not to eat them, though there was that one succulent we had that they just couldn’t resist.

Notice I said “had”. 😦

We’ve got all sorts of barriers around our remaining house plants to keep them out. As much as the damage done to them bothered me, right now we’re trying to grow food, not decorations, so this is bothering me more.

Why are the cats so determined to destroy our seedlings? There are the barriers, the space around the trays is tight, the pots and trays are wet – we just refilled the bottoms of most of the trays to water from below – and you’d think something in the nightshade family would taste pretty gross.

I am not at all happy right now. 😦

I will, however, share a photo of some well behaved kitties I took earlier.

When I headed outside to get a meter reading, I spotted these two, cuddling together in the sun room. Agnoos is fine with us, but the ‘iccus he was cuddling with is one of the more feral cats. I had to move fast to get a picture before he (she?) ran away. I’m not sure which one this is, but from the facial markings, I’m guessing this is the one the girls named Sadiccus. He looks like he’s been crying!

Which is kinda what I feel like doing right now. Crying in frustration!!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: morning disaster. Will they survive?

Not a good way to start the day.

One of the first things I do when I get up in the mornings is turn on the lights for the aquarium greenhouses.

This morning, I was greeted by this.

This is the tray we had just recently transferred out of the big aquarium greenhouse. A cat had managed to get through the box blocking the gap at the back of the chair, and into the tray.

The damage in some of them was really, really bad. The pots just disintegrated. Granted, they are designed to do that, but not until they’ve been put into the ground!

Some weren’t too bad. The gourds, in particular, were mostly just jostled a bit. I was able to transfer them into the Solo cups without too much trouble. These cups already had drainage holes in their bottoms.

Note the leaves on the Canteen gourd, with the almost white tips. That’s from the seed casing that I ended up breaking free of the leaves.

The remainder required much more care.

We still had some pre-moistened seed starting soil left, and I used it to help re-pot the remaining squished seedlings.

I think a couple of labels got mixed up, but I’m not going to worry about that right now. As long as the two varieties of tomatoes are labelled, it’s fine.

Once the seedings were cleared and in cups, I moistened some more seed starting soil. While mixing the water in, the remains of the Jiffy pots got mashed into the soil as well. By the time the soil was thoroughly moistened, there was no sign of the pots!

For some with still intact pots, like the gourds, I gently removed them again, added soil to the bottom of the cups, then put them back in. For the tomatoes, I basically just potted them up, adding the fresh soil around the stems. Those should recover fine.

It’s the eggplants and peppers that might have difficulties. I tried to add soil around them while raising them higher in the cups as best I could. Some were quite squished, but none looked broken or damaged.

With the tomatoes, I’m not too concerned, since we do have two more trays of them in the mini-greenhouse, but these are the only eggplant and peppers we’ve got. Even with the gourds, there are other pots that haven’t germinated yet.

Speaking of which…

To give them the best chance as survival, the repotted seedlings went back into the large aquarium greenhouse, where they will be on the heat mat and under the two light fixtures.

Which, unfortunately, meant the other tray had to go into the mini-greenhouse.

Before they did, though, my daughter flattened a cereal box and put it in first, folded so that half the box covers the gap in the back, and the other half is under the tray.

Pure chance that we had the box. We almost never buy cereal, but when we were last the Superstore, we purchased enough to get their freebie of the week. That week, it was a variety pack of cereals and breakfast bars. This was the largest cereal box in the pack, and just the right size to completely cover the gap created by the back of the chair the mini-greenhouse is tied down to.

Unfortunately, this means the items in the tray aren’t getting the light and warmth they were, in the aquarium greenhouse. The best we could do was set up a light on one side, shining into the bottom of the mini-greenhouse from the TV stand next to it. For those in pots, they need the warmth of that incandescent bulb more than the light, since they haven’t germinated yet. You can see the shallots coming up in the tray next to the pots. They will need more light, but not the heat.


Well, there’s only so much we can do, until things warm up enough to start using the sun room. Hopefully, before then, we’ll be able to switch the trays again, and have the newly repotted seedlings back in the mini-greenhouse, and the tray with seeds that still need to germinate, back on the warming mat. The mini-greenhouse itself should be closer to the living room window, but the closer you get to the window, the colder the room is, so that won’t work for probably another few weeks.

We don’t know for sure which cat did this damage but, really, there’s just the one that keeps trying to get into the mini-greenhouse, still. The others are content to sit in the sun spot on the chair seat in front of it.

I love the cats. I really do. But I am getting so tired of cat damage.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: damage control

I’m about ready to start throwing cats outside! 😦

This is what I discovered, this morning.

The long piece of insulation across the top is what had been blocking the opening on the back of the tank lid. You can even see the claw marks in it!

Some nasty little beast managed to pull one of the trays up!

The peat stayed in most of the cells, though a few at the very back were empty when I straightened it out. I found the plugs and put them back as best I could, and gently took loose peat off the cells it had fallen on and put it in the emptier cells. I will give it a day or two, then plant new seeds in the cells that didn’t survive.

Eventually, the seedlings will reach a height were I can take out the box that is keeping them closer to the light, and the cats won’t be able to reach the trays anymore, but for now they trays need to be this high. They should probably be a bit higher, but that would just make it easier for a cat to reach. The opening in the back is where I’m going to set up the tiny fan we have, to blow over the seedlings and help them get stronger, but for now, I’ve basically put a sheet of foam core over the tank’s lid and weighed it down. It should still have a bit of air circulation, but we’ll have to keep a close eye on it.

I am not pleased with the kitties! 😦

The Re-Farmer

Morning finds

We are back from our city shopping trip and stocked up with most of what we need. We will still have to make another trip to get the rest. After that, we should be set for the month, and anything we need, we can get locally.

I am hoping my mother’s car will be ready for pick up by this weekend. I made a doctor’s appointment for her – they’re actually seeing patients for physicals now, instead of only doing phone in appointments – next week, and it would be great to surprise her with her own car. 🙂

That, and her car has working air conditioning… 😉

Before we headed out, I did the morning rounds and, of course, checked on the picnic table that got scrubbed yesterday evening. Check out how different it looks from last night to this morning!

The first two pictures are before scrubbing, after scrubbing, and then the last one is after drying overnight. The wood looks so much lighter! I expected it to be more grey, just from aging.

It’s still quite damp in places, mostly where the wood is most rotten, so it’s a good thing we weren’t going to be able to paint it right away anyhow. We should be able to get to it, tomorrow (Thursday). There are predictions of rain on Friday (which would be great!), though. My daughter has a 10′ x 10′ canopy tent she used when doing art markets before the move. If we set that up, we can paint it and not have to worry about rain while it’s drying. The underside will get just one coat of paint, so if all goes well, we should be able to flip it and do the top on Saturday. Friday will likely be when we make our second trip to the city, so it should get plenty of time to dry.

I think after that trip, I will be more than done with being around so many people!!

Meanwhile, I had another find this morning, that was much less pleasant.

Some time after I came in from my rounds and was uploading trail cam files, the kittens trashed our dining table.

Last night, the girls discovered the cats had knocked one of our plant pots in the living room onto the carpet. The little jade tree in it was a rescue from previous cat damage! The girls vacuumed up the mess, then put the pot with the plant and remaining soil on the dining table to be dealt with in the morning. Instead, the cats dealt with it before we could. 😦

The table had a lot of other stuff on it, too. You know how it goes. Any flat surface must get covered with stuff! 😀

My husband discovered the mess. Everything on the table was covered in dirt! As soon as I got most of the stuff off the table, I then had to fight off kittens who kept jumping up onto it to play in the dirt! I was able to clean that up before we left. One of my daughters stayed home to work, so she was kind enough to clean up the mess that spilled onto the floor while we were gone.

Keeping the kittens out of the plants has been quite a battle. They just love dirt! I have a very large pot with several avocado seedlings growing in it, and Nicco in particular has been repeatedly caught curled up in the middle of it, sleeping! One of the seedlings now no longer has any leaves!

I am not impressed.

The Re-Farmer