Pine cones keep kitty out of flower beds

If neighborhood cats or other critters are digging in your flower beds, try this neat tip from reader Nancy Jones:
"I have tried something I read about to help keep the neighbors' seven cats out of my side flower garden where the soil is loose and rich with peat moss and they love that for their personal bathroom. "I go to an apartment complex near my house and gather up laundry baskets of pine cones and then spread them around in my garden. This seems to work. "I have noticed the fecal matter problem has disappeared since I started doing this. Of course, it will need a little renewal of the pine cones, but they seem to last and last. "I should say that I don't put them down really thick. I just sort of sprinkle them around the plants. The reason this is supposed to work is because the cats don't like the feeling on their little paws. I have done this for about ten years and it works for me!"
QUESTION: "My husband & I planted a Bradford pear tree in our front yard when we built our house six years ago. We don't have a sprinkler system and the yard gets direct sun most of the day. The tree has not grown much in this six year period. Our next door neighbor planted the same type of tree after ours and theirs is huge.
"We planted two autumn maples two years ago and they are not growing either. We are concerned that we did not dig the holes wide enough and that the roots are not spreading as they should. What do you think? If the holes are not wide enough, can we dig around the trees to widen the holes?" - Sheri Brooks
ANSWER: Maples are slow growing trees, so don't count on a lot of activity (at least noticeable activity) with them for awhile. Regarding the Bradford Pear, if it is producing any growth at all, then what you are seeing may be the plant's natural growth rate. Is the tree beginning to bloom in early spring, followed by normal leafing out? If it is, then it has settled into a slower growing phase.
All factors would be based on the environment, which will include maintenance, unless you have noticed any health issues with the tree. Although it is difficult not to make comparisons with your neighbor's tree, plants are living things just like people and will grow and develop at their own rate. I wouldn't recommend digging around the tree's root system as you suggest because you are likely to cut off growth that the tree has made over the past 6 years.
If you believe that there is a problem with the plant, you can contact your local Conservation District Office (also known as NRCS) which will be listed in your local phone directory under your state's department of agriculture.
QUESTION: "I have an amateur greenhouse and want to start some seeds. Every time I have started seeds in the past they come up spindly and I still don't know what I need to do to correct this.
"I have panoramic light, air circulation and regulated heat, as well as good humidity. All my plants I winter in the greenhouse thrive in these conditions. Thanks for any info!" - Bonnie Meador
ANSWER: When seeds are allowed to sprout and grow too fast they become spindly. Once the seeds have sprouted they need to be "tempered" by placing them into a less desirable environment. In your case you could try cutting back on the water and reduce the humidity by taking the extra hothouse-type screen off the top. The environment in the rest of the greenhouse works for your developed plants but is not good for your new sprouts once they come up. It just sounds as if you are babying them too much after they emerge. Just cut back some on the water and nutrients until they begin to fatten up.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org
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snipped-for-privacy@Greenwoodnursery.com wrote:

Nancy Jones is full of crap! Pine cones (which I HAVE tried) don't work at all. The only thing that I have found that works is water. There are motion sensing water sprayers that work quite well in keeping animals out of your garden.
--
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)

Gardening for over 40 years
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Bill R wrote:

They usually work if they're piled in a solid layer at least six inches deep, but then so does pine bark nuggets which is much easier to obtain and work with. But pine cones just strewn about on bare soil will do nothing to discourage cats, and may even encourage them because cats love to bat them around like toys. Of course if you live in close proximity to other homes that have cats and there isn't much acreage for them to roam then cats will take up residence in the closest flower beds no matter what deterent is used... wily cats know how to avoid sprinklers and they derive great joy in antagonizing the biggest meanest dogs.
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wrote:

That's why cats were invented - to antagonize dogs, which serve no purpose.
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I suppose to cats dogs don't serve a purpose.
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wrote:

I suppose to cats dogs don't serve a purpose.
================= The cats probably view them as some sort of freak show. They probably have some faint primordial memory of when there were only wolves, instead of the bizarre pathetic creatures which people have bred through their meddling.
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Sheldon wrote:

Of course they do. Like all things they exist to please cats.
--
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--John
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On Wed, 12 Mar 2008 09:16:01 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@Greenwoodnursery.com"

<snip>
I have tried this because I have bushels of pine cones (and more). It doesn't stop the cats. I have a seemingly endless supply of rose canes which do deter cats. Also I have a rue herb patch which cats do not like.
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Maybe you planted yours too deep. maybe you dug a hole and did not prepare a planting site. Maybe the tree has girdling roots from improper planting. Maybe the tree did not have any roots. Maybe the roots were crushed. Maybe tree has trunk wounds. Maybe the mulch is too deep and against the trunk. maybe there is no mulch at all. Maybe their tree was fertilized with nitrogen (bigger is not always better). And the list goes on and on.

Do not dig a hole. Anybody can dig a hole. Your tree required a prepared planting site and not a hole.
What do you think? If

Maybe if the trees were planted too deep you could replant them. Also if the tree has woody roots while you are at it properly prune them.

If the tree was planted with crushed root a professional could properly prune the roots. Might be cheaper to buy a new tree, if you can find a healthy one, and plant it right.

Your best bet would be contacting someone in your area with an understanding of tree biology.

These are the opinions of John A. Keslick, Jr. and not the opinions of other people on this list.
--
Many tree problems are associated with the following: They are Case
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why do you post here? greenwood nursery sold me 20 dead poplar trees.......................and would not back up a guarantee! they wanted me to mail them back..........................
--

rosie
http://tinyurl.com/2hkc6u
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I hate that when that happens.
--
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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Rosie
I just emailed them to see about pushing our product for correctly staking trees. I hope they are not a wire in a hose outfit.
http://home.ccil.org/~treeman/camb /
--
Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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