Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cat Grasses and Other Kitty Treats: You Can Grow That!

Guest Post by Claire Splan

Cats (and some dogs) love to nibble at grass, but you may not want to encourage them to chew on the lawn, particularly if the lawn's been treated with non-organic amendments or pesticides. Planting a pot of grasses especially for your pets will encourage them to leave other plants alone (particularly housecats that sometimes nibble out of boredom). You can sow seeds of just about any annual cereal grass but many seed companies sell packets of grass mixes especially for cats. These combinations of rye, oats, barley, and wheat are very appealing to cats, especially when you fertilize them with a shot of fish emulsion.

Growing Annual Grasses

Choose a wide, shallow pot, such as a bulb pot, to sow the seeds in. Fill it up to about an inch from the top with potting soil, then sprinkle the grass seeds over the top. Aim to space the seeds about 1/4 inch apart. Sprinkle about 1/2 inch of potting mix over the seeds and press to get good contact between the soil and seeds. Water well and place where it will get at least a half-day of sun. Keep evenly moist and seeds should germinate within a week. Wait until the grass is a couple inches high before giving it to your cats to nibble. Water regularly and feed with a fish emulsion solution every couple of weeks. If you plant a container every 4 to 6 weeks, you'll have a steady crop of grass to keep your cats happy.

Growing Catmint and Catnip

While cat grasses are fast-growing and tasty (if you're a cat), they are annuals, which means you need to re-sow seeds in order to keep them continuously growing. Catmint (Nepeta mussinii) and catnip (Nepeta cataria) are herbaceous perennials, meaning that they will die back to the roots in the winter, but re-sprout from the same root system in the spring. They also both contain the organic compound called nepetalactone, which is known to attract felines. In other words, catmint and catnip are recreational drugs for cats.

Linus, the undergardener, looking for catnip
Catmint and catnip need full sun. Sow seeds in the spring or plant container-grown plants in the spring or fall. They will  grow into mounded plants between 12 and 18 inches high. Catmint in particular makes a nice groundcover. Both plants will develop flower spikes (catmint flowers are lavender and catnip can be white/pink/lavender). When the flowers fade, just cut them back and the plant will be rebloom. Although they tend to be hardy plants that will grow in almost any soil, they do best when fed every couple weeks with a weak organic fertilizer. With regular feeding they'll be better able to withstand the constant nibbling that they will have to endure.


There are several companies that offer seed mixes for cat grasses as well as catmint or catnip seeds. My favorites include Renee's Garden Seeds, Burpee, Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, and Botanical Interests. You can also use pre-seeded disks, available from Botanical Interests, which are more expensive, but easy to use and result in more even sprouting.


About the Author:

 Claire Splan is an Alameda native with a deep appreciation for the joys of gardening in sandy soil and a Mediterranean climate. She says of her blog, An Alameda Garden, "This is where I share my gardening successes and frustrations (of which there are many), as well as news of gardening events and developments in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. I love writing and talking about gardening and am a member of the Garden Writers Association, but I also enjoy writing fiction and other types of nonfiction."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Simon's Cat Loves His Garden

Who isn't a fan of Simon's Cat? I was pleasantly surprised to see that the last few cartoons of Simon's Cat take place in their humble garden. I true garden cat, this kitty loves being out in his garden, except when the weather is uncooperative.

His kitty cat friends also enjoy Mother Nature -- but perhaps his cat girlfriend likes butterflies a little too much!?!

What is your favorite Simon's Cat episode?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

This Cat is Quite Koi

Joyce Grigonis a landscape designer in Southold, NY, posted this video of "our cat Ernie eating waterlilies." He is one of her 7 cats.

"Ernie's full name is Ernest Hemingway because he is polydactyl like Hemingway's cats in Key West. He is quite unique and about 22 pounds."
 Joyce shared another of her 7 cats, Pussy Willow II, here with us.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Thirsty Cat

Caren Madsen of Silver Spring, MD, shared this picture. She wrote, " Tiger is our next door neighbor's boy. When they're on vacation, we feed him and take him in at night. He hangs out on our patio while they're away."

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Caught Napping

Joe Luebke of Hyattsville, MD, and is Director of Horticulture and Grounds at the Washington National Cathedral posted this cat photo to his Facebook profile.

He writes, " Agnes is adopted from our neighbor's across the street. We cat-sit for them and she decided to make our home hers."