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AJK0327
Mar 26, 2021 11:20 PM CST
I recently noticed a putrid smell in my planter boxes. I suspect it's cat feces since there has been an increase of feral cats in the neighborhood. I've read online that cat feces can carry harmful bacteria and should be removed and the soil that it's touched. Sadly with the rain and wind, I think the poop melted into the soil, and now I can't spot it. The smell is everywhere. I started tilling the soil and now I'm wondering if I shouldn't have done that?? Do I dump the soil??? it's quite a lot of dump. 5 long planter boxes each about 20 ft long and 4 ft deep. Is there a way to say the soil?? Can I still plant?
West Central Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Rubi
Mar 27, 2021 9:34 PM CST
Figure out how to keep the cats out first. You don't want to plant anything while they're still digging around in there. During that time, the poop will probably rot and become a component of the soil hopefully losing the nasty smell in the process. If you're planting lettuce, or something else that will be consumed in a matter of weeks, I'd maybe worry a little bit about harmful bacteria. If you're just planting flowers, wear some gloves.

I'm not offering professional medical advice, and I'll add the warning that I live my life with no paranoia about the warnings online about things that are supposedly bad for me. The results speak for themselves though. I've only been sick twice in the last 30 years, and one of those times was only for 36 hours. I've haven't taken a prescription drug since my mother used to force me to in my early teens. I've only gone to the doctor three times since high school and those were only for stitches and broken bones. Now excuse me because I'm going to go take a drink out of my garden hose.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Mar 28, 2021 5:53 AM CST
I mostly agree.
Cats can carry toxoplasmosis which is no joke. Happy to read at CDC that our immune system usually handles it fine.
https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/...
Also, notice, it is not said to cause foodborne illness from contaminated produce - except it does say unwashed produce could carry the cysts.
https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/...

Elsewhere on the site, the only caution is to wear garden gloves and use good handwashing after gardening

So yes, you will need to figure out how you will keep them from returning. There's a recent thread talking about that.
Then, if you are just planting flowers/things to look at, it's OK, just have good hand hygiene.
If planting edibles, the level of contamination you describe would make me a little put off. I don't think I could do herbs.

still, after reading CDC. I wouldn't be terribly worried. Especially as you may need to cover the soil with fabric, or mulch plus netting, and that will stop most of the risk of even splashing anything from the soil up onto the plants you might eat.

That's my 3 cents Shrug!
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
Plays on the water.
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cwhitt
Apr 22, 2021 12:45 PM CST
I personally would not be too terribly worried. Yes, do something about the cats - fence it off, put down coyote urine granules, etc. And then I would not grow food crops in that soil for a year. And wash your hands after planting flowers there - and don't do it on a windy day so you don't inhale the dust.
You might even try planting a bunch of marigolds in that area - most animals do not like the smell of marigolds.
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Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
Apr 22, 2021 1:07 PM CST
A friend said that Coyote Urine would work but she couldn't figure out how to get a catheter in to a Bob Cat. Wire fencing wit smaller openings would help, Watering will break it down. Cayenne Pepper will help.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
Plays on the water.
Amaryllis Permaculture Sempervivums Roses Bookworm Annuals
Composter Hybridizer Cat Lover Garden Ideas: Master Level
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cwhitt
Apr 23, 2021 8:39 AM CST
@Paul2032 Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing

Personally, I would go with the marigolds.

Plant Dreams. Pull Weeds. Grow A Happy Life.
Name: John K.
Malaysia
Organic Gardener
bunnydefluff
Apr 26, 2021 9:35 PM CST
Try to make that bed into a temporary compost site. Given enough time and sufficient heat the problematic bacteria could die off. Cats like to do their business on bare soil so try to cover it with something not easily push aside, such as a plastic bed cover.

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