Diary (sort of)
I divided the rhubarb but I'm still a bit confused about what to cut and what not to. Anyway, it looks like it's survived and it now has more room to grow for me. The compost heap was distributed across the west half of the garden, and of course the rhubarb got some. Having done a lot of digging, I then hit the problem of the local cat population thinking of my garden as one big litter tray. I am trying not to hate them... I am also trying out various defences and discouragements. Shooting the moggies is (sadly) not an option.
So here we are in January in 2003 and the prime concern is the rhubarb. This needs attention. It's begining to grow and I need to tidy it up and divide it a bit more. I found a website with a lot of information about it - The rhubarb compendium - so I am now much better informed.
Well, as you can see, the day was a long time coming. 2002 took a not very nice turn (as you may have noticed from elsewhere on this site) and I lost the thread a bit. However, I did spend some time in the garden, doing a few things and was very glad of the oportunity to get on with something that required no social skills, no great intellect, and yet provided a calm satisfaction.
This page will be a collection of odd notes and garden philosophy: friendly snails, keeping compost well fed, where I bought stuff and so on. One day.
Not diary (just comments)
Finally, something that seems to work. A floppy fence, about 18 inches high, kept upright by very bendy rods. The photo shows the general arrangement.
Nothing complicated in the construction: a 2 by 1 inch batten with the bottom edge of the plastic fencing mesh taped to it, screwed to the wall with just a couple of screws for each 6 foot run. The support rods are 1/8 inch fibreglass as used in kite construction. (Which just goes to prove what you can learn at a kite festival!). I have not seen any cats in the garden since I put this up, at least six months ago.
Well, the local moggies soon got used to overcoming the spiky and stringy obstacles. Next up was a commercial ultrasonic cat deterent triggered by an infra-red detector. I set these up to cover one of the main routes in. Great expectations, followed by equally great frustration as the @£$%^ cats not only ignored it, they climbed the post it was fixed to! It went back for a refund.
Current strategy is twofold: spikey things and stringy things. This is a spikey thing I stuck along the garden wall:
This had marginal effect until I wove some tayberry prunings into it. The cats will still cross it, but only if they really have to. It's made of a semi-rigid plastic 2 inch mesh, cut and bent so as to provide two rows of spikes. Not sharp enough to cut (that might damage me!), but providing a dodgey take off and landing.
The stringy thing is a sort of mid-air trip wire. If the cat route involves jumping, a string across the route is a serious hazard (I hope). So where they might jump off a roof, there are now strings (yellow, to be seen) between them and the landing point.
Now to understand the problem I have with cats, you need to know that I live in a terraced house, backed by another terrace. Many of the gardens are simply paved. Many living nearby have cats, untrained. (Cats and owners.) Cats are good climbers and think nothing of an ordinary fence. My strategy is centered on making it so hard to get into the garden, or so unpleasant for them to be in it, that they won't develop a habit of coming here. I'll let you know what I've tried and what works. So far commercial repellants and orange skins have failed...
Trying to keep the birds at bay? I found they made good targets for old AOL CDs. No. I never actually hit them. Anyway, what else do you do with those CDs? What I did notice is that the starlings that have come to like my figs are a fairly bright lot. Maybe figs are good brain food... They originally attracted my attention by being very noisy when they arrived.
I hung a few CDs in the tree to try and discourage them. That worked for a few days. Then they came back. So I started throwing CDs as well, hoping they would associate the flying ones with the hanging ones. That worked for a week or so. Then they learned to come back, but quietly. Cunning brutes. The season finished about evens, I think, with a couple of dozen figs for me, and the same for them.