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Mary Lowther column: Garden additions at request of staff

By Mary Lowther

Eager to help with garden planning, my staff requests a few changes.

Mrs. Premise, our cat, didn’t like the cat mint much last year and wants me to sow catnip this year. She also wants a soft spot to make her toilet and maybe a candle or two for ambience. She correctly points out that she deserves a little spoiling because after all, she doesn’t kill birds. She’d probably like to but they’re too fast and smart for a fat and happy cat.

So I’ll add catnip to my seed order and sow it on one side of a small bed dug especially for the cat’s boudoir, but I draw the line at candles. Although catnip can be eaten by humans, Andre Simon writes in A Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy that small shoots are acceptable in small quantities, but mature leaves are too pungent for culinary use. Cats are not like you or I.

I’ll sow the catnip in flats on the seed table inside in early February, prepared to set the seedlings out into Mrs. Premise’s bed mid-March and I might save some plants for seed.

Monkey, our dog, requests free access to the whole yard so he wants me to tear down the fence we erected in a futile attempt at keeping him out of the garden. He doesn’t like jumping over it, even though he’s been neutered so I don’t know what he’s worried about. Since our vegetable patch is moving down the road anyway, I’ll humour him but will erect a fence around the cat’s boudoir with a sign attached saying: “No dogs allowed”.

I’ll sow a high nitrogen crop of alfalfa in the back yard and allow it to go to seed to use in our new garden. The birds will miss pecking all my lovely vegetable seeds so perhaps I’ll sow a few sunflowers and other flowers that attract bees when they’re flowering and birds when they go to seed. At the end of summer, I’m only going to harvest the alfalfa and catnip and let everything else go to seed for the birds. I can do that. Here are a few plants recommended for bird seed: yarrow, amaranth, columbine, milkweed, aster, marigold, cornflower, cosmos, echinacea and thistle, but there are many more.

Please contact with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

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