Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Garden Pet Repellents and other Tools of the Trade

I debated whether I would bother doing any gardening this year. One of the dogs has a special affinity for chewing up plants - greens, dirt, plastic pots, and all. (Remember this photo? And the repeated demise of parsley starts?) After watching Milo systematically destroy most of last year's plants over the course of the fall, I felt it would be futile to attempt much more than to hang a few pots out of his reach. On top of that, we may or may not be moving this summer (smack in the middle of growing season) and may or may not have outdoor space if we move.

But, being blessed with (what passes for) a yard in New York City, it would almost be criminal not to take advantage of growing space. I can't let fears about what may or may not happen in the future get in the way of what I want to do now. That's how time slips away from us, leading us to realize years later all the missed opportunities. I can't let the dogs control my life (even though they'd like to). Anyway, due to a recent fence-breakthrough incident, the dogs aren't allowed in the yard unsupervised for the time being.

My plan is to be much more vigilant about using deterrents to keep pets away from the plants. For now, I just gave a spritz of the vinegar-tea tree-water all-purpose cleaner that I keep on hand, but I think it's actually too strong, so I found several other simple options. In particular, it's great that coffee grinds and citrus rinds can be saved from the trash to serve a dual purpose as both repellent and nutrient enrichment. I'll let you know how these work out.

Natural Garden Pet Deterrents

* dilute a teaspoon of vinegar with water in a spray bottle and spray onto the plant on a semi-daily basis, especially after rain
* sprinkle cayenne pepper or other black or hot pepper onto the soil
* dilute pepper in water and spray onto the plants
* soak rags in vinegar and place around the perimeter of the garden
* sprinkle coffee grounds and citrus rinds onto the soil (bonus: this is good for the plants!)
* stick a bar of soap near the plant

Also, that growler is there to prove one needn't purchase special equipment for gardening. I use a large spoon instead of a trowel. And a growler or jug stands in for a watering can (although it does require a few more trips to the kitchen sink).


  1. cool! I have a friend with hungry cats- I'm sending this along to her :) Thanks!

  2. I love that you're making your own natural garden repellents! I just read about a brand called Eco Smart that sells all-natural garden repellents (and sounds like they have a similar formula, too.)

  3. i love how this philosophy is totally applicable to all other aspects of life!

  4. We'll be moving in August as well (to NC), but we've decided to grow as much as we can. This includes tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, spinach, broccoli, asparagus (already sprouting), parsley (sprouting from last year), and so on. It'll be hard to leave it all behind, but we'll transplant some of the veggies if possible. To me, there's nothing better than eating fresh from your own garden. Kudos for deciding to give it a try in spite of the move and plant-eating dog!

  5. Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I answered your question on my post. Why are you moving to NC? (I'm jealous of the warmer weather...)