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Thinking outside the box

July 28, 2017

When I went back to London in 2001 to take up a two-year contract with Greenpeace UK, there were a number of house plants in the house. The number decreased over the years I was back in London, dying of thirst I suspect as a result of Mike’s inattention. By the time I came back to Gabriola full time, the only plant left in the house was an indestructible Christmas cactus which Mike owned before I met him.

After his death I decided it was time to bring plants back into the house. One of the first ones I bought was a small rubber plant. It lived originally and thrived on the bathroom windowsill. When it got too big for that spot, I moved it to sit on a little table in what I grandiosely and laughingly call my “dressing room”. Eventually it got too big to sit on that table so I moved it to the floor in the diningroom, where it looked quite lovely.

What, you ask, does this have to do with the garden? Don’t worry, I’m getting there.

07-16 sprouting

As you may recall, earlier this month, having excavated a number of cat turds, I filled up the last part of the raised bed with a second planting of peas, beans, rocket, lettuce and kale. Clearly Stella was not happy about being denied access to her outdoor litter box.

A couple of weeks ago I walked into the diningroom and was immediately assailed by the smell of cat pee. Almost simultaneously I noticed dirt on the floor near the rubber plant. Sure enough, Stella had taken her revenge for losing her outdoor dirt box by using the dirt in the rubber plant pot. I shifted the plant, filled up a bowl with hot, soapy water, washed the floor where she’d missed the pot. Went outside to collect some stones (no shortage of those on the property) and placed these on top of the dirt in the pot, thinking this would dissuade her. Au contraire. The next morning the area smelt like cat pee again and there were stone and dirt on the floor. Another bowl of soapy water. Another trip outside, this time to collect large rocks. (Again, no shortage.) For a couple of days she seemed to get the message, but it didn’t last. Piss on the rocks, piss on the floor. More soapy water, more rocks. What if I moved the pot to the other corner of the diningroom? Success for a few days. Then I went to Seattle for four days.

When I came back there was a large pile of poo-filled dirt in the corner and a large portion of dirt no longer in the pot. Sigh. Shifted the pot from the floor to the kitchen counter. Cleaned up the dirt and the turds. Another bowl of hot soapy water. Obviously it couldn’t live permanently on the kitchen counter. It took up too much space.

Met my friend Jean, the owner of multiple cats, for dinner that evening and told her the rubber plant tale of woe. She pointed out that, wherever I put the plant, I would have to repot it in new soil as the existing soil would be filled with cat pee. Fortunately I have a big bag of potting soil. She also recommended aluminium foil, as cats do not like the crinkling under their paws. (Sudden flashback to using aluminium foil twenty-five years ago to stop Clancy pissing in the heat vents at our house in Vancouver.)

So, that was yesterday’s job. Rubber plant repotted with new soil, covered with foil and placed back on the table in the dressing room.

07-28 rubber plant

And, yes, that is indeed the Sex Pistols poster from the set of An Unhelpful Complication.


A little memento of the world premiere of my play.

I know it is not easy to distract a cat once said cat’s mind has been made up, but I’m hoping to provide a diversion.

07-28 dirt box

Dumped some of the cat piss saturated soil into an old washing up bowl which I’ve placed out back. Please note the inclusion of a leaf from the rubber plant as an extra hint. No sign this morning that she has started to use this new dirt box, but there is also no sign of piss or poo on the diningroom floor. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, back in the garden…

I usually do very well with cherry tomatoes (the only tomatoes I like to eat). Not so this year. Three of the six plants in the garden are dead or close to death. No idea why. The remaining three are producing tomatoes, but the plants are nowhere near the size they should be by now. Very disappointing.

Picked the first yellow courgette yesterday. Clearly there will be many more, which is lovely, except I actually prefer green courgettes and that plant is producing nothing but flowers. Grr. The first butternut squash is coming along nicely, again with the promise of more. It is now the annual race against time. Will the squash be edible before it gets too cold? Time will tell.

The pink gooseberry bush has produced one pink gooseberry. The two black currant bushes have produced four black currants. One of the dwarf blueberry bushes has produced four blueberries. Another blueberry bush, which as far as I remember has never produced fruit, has produced three blueberries. Hardly a crop. I begin to suspect pruning and feeding (neither of which I’ve ever done) may be required. Maybe next year.

And now the garden swing is calling. Time for a cuppa and a book.

One Comment
  1. janeshead permalink

    I’ve never had a cat pee in the indoor plants – not that I currently have any big enough for that anyway – but the late Mme Plouffe in her final year when she’d basically lost the plot pissed so frequently and comprehensively in a spot by the front door that the varnish (hardwood floor) bubbled and lifted. Also if one left any article of fabric on the floor, that was just asking for it – like a bathmat, say. And the beloved Jasper in his final precipitous decline took to using the little cutout on the floor where the handle to the basement trapdoor lies. He’d just fill that little depression with piss. Cats are the best. So far, even when at his sickest, Enzo has always used the box, but he’s young yet.

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