Want to plant edibles but dog and cat poop?

metal_rabbitAugust 26, 2011

I often wonder when I see professional growers how they keep the farm cat out of the vegetable plants Someone told me that it doesn't matter if some dog or cat poop gets into the veggies, but I think it does. I have here and there good sun for planting certain edibles, slopes, and like to plant edibles with flowers nearby and it might be a problem putting up a fence or fences to keep the critters out. Any suggestions? Yes, I know I can use pots and 5 gallon buckets but don't want to plant everything that way.


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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

The prohibition is on using meat eating animals manure as fertilizer....you are talking large amounts of manure. A single cat using the veggie garden as a litter box won't hurt anything. That whole issue is very overblown anyway. You are worrying over something that is very minor. It isn't like a tomato plant is going to suck something up in to the fruit from the manure. The problem comes from intestinal parasites and their eggs which get in to the soil and could get on the surface of the veggie. As long as you wash the fruit or greens you have no risk. If you are a bit paranoid a very small amount of bleach or soap added to the water and a good rinse will kill off the baddies. What about raccoon's, opossums, armadillos or foxes?.....I guarantee you they will use your garden as well.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 9:12AM
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crueltyfre(Tampa 9a heat 10 sunset 26)

Isn't a percentage of soil and fertilizers poop from some living things at some time or other? Even if you fenced it off from mammels, the worms will poop in the soil and the birds will let it fly from the sky. All God's children gotta poop.
And if it was so bad, why do I see bags of manure for sale all the time?...and not just from cows either.
Humanity did just fine even after using our own poop on plants for centuries...and that was before the invention of anti-biotics.
If you're phobic about poop, then I suggest indoor hydroponics.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 11:32AM
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Well, I use lots of Black Kow and Black Hen and Milorganite ( sewage sludge from Milwaukee) also when I clean out my kittie's litter boxes it goes into the garden, also when my neighbor's doggie comes in the yard and does his 'you-know-what'... it all makes everything nice and green and grow better..... wasn't it the Chinese use 'Night Dew', the contents of their chamber-pots, on everything they grow ? also, Fish Emulsion is waste-products and does fantastically on everything we grow !!! It's only been the last few years in man's evolution that we have become so squeamish and it's only here in America, to out detriment..... the fertilizer manufacturers have trained us well !!!!!! sally

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 1:18PM
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sumala(9 fl)

Hydroponics? No, no, no. Don't you know that water can be captured and moved from place to place but can never be destroyed or be converted to anything but water? Any water that you use from any source may have at one point been part of a living creature, maybe even a human, or a frog. Never use water for growing food :(

Seriously Sheila, try to avoid really nasty growing conditions and wash your produce but don't sweat the small stuff.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 1:44PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

I suppose in a vacuum, normal amounts of animal poop in the soil could be dangerous, but are you forgetting about the micro & macro-organisms that feed on the poop (& any pathogens) & break it all down?

& unless there are numerous cats & dogs using the garden beds as a potty daily, I'm guessing it's moot. Of course, if you find a pile of dog excrement in your garden, you can bury it elsewhere - & there are ways to discourage dogs & cats from relieving themselves in designated areas: sprays, barriers, etc.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 9:18AM
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Put up a fence.

Use a roll of chicken wire or hog wire.

I use old broom handles or anything else recycled as posts.

The fences are temporary but they do keep dogs and cats out.

My fencing is not that pretty but it is highly effective.

Keeps the bunnies who eat my veggies out too.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 9:44AM
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After you have taken all the precautions of putting up barriers to any and all animals and birds, you will still have BUG-POOP on your veggies----- NOW WHAT TO DO??

You might just as well skip the whole growing of veggies idea and eat a bowl full of chemical fertilizer. (after it has been roasted for 2 hours in a blast furnace of course)


    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 11:04AM
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Cat feces are to be avoided by pregnant women because of the possibility of transmitting toxoplasmosis. So if you are feeding your tomatoes to a pregnant woman, I would not let the cat poop near them.

Toxoplasmosis also is a threat to anyone who is immunocompromised, such as a person with HIV/AIDS or on immunosuppressive drugs for an organ transplant, an auto-immune disease or chemotherapy for cancer treatments. Frail elderly persons and infants are also more susceptible to toxoplasmosis.

Here is a link that might be useful: Toxoplasmosis

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 12:31PM
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FYI - a child infected with toxoplasmosis in utero can become blind and mentally retarded, so we are talking about something serious here. Moreover, an organ transplant recipient, cancer patient receiving chemo or an AIDS patient can be killed by a toxoplasmosis infection.

A toxoplasmosis infection can be successfully treated if caught before damage is done, but it is best not to have cat feces in a vegetable garden. There is no need to take the risk.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 12:40PM
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It is common for dogs to become infected with a variety of worms - tape, round, hook and whip - and the eggs/larvae/worms can be shed in their feces. This is why the CDC recommends deworming monthly even if the dog does not have any symptoms and no ova or parasites can be seen under microscopic exam (some are very tiny and difficult to see and are easily missed even with a microscope and some are not shed continuously in the feces). This also is why most cities/counties have ordinances requiring you to pick up after your dog.

Now here in Florida, our soils are loaded with worms, and that is where the dogs get them from. So if you are growing your vegetables in the ground, I am not sure how much dog poop adds to the worm problem that already exists. However, why risk it? Just pick up after your dog.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 1:42PM
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sumala(9 fl)

I love those commercials and film clips showing pet owners exchanging loving nose nuzzles and a few face licks. I have a beagle that I nicknamed Miss Licky because she never misses a chance to slurp on me a little. I also had a cat who thought my garden was his private domain and allowed me in only if I allowed him to constantly rub against my legs. I nicknamed him Rubber Ducky. I still have Miss Licky but Rubber Ducky went exploring and never came home. I hope he found a nicer garden :-(

The idea of floating thru my garden in a protective bubble doesn't appeal to me. Growing my garden in a protective bubble doesn't appeal to me. Neither does living my life in constant fear of death.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 2:47PM
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"Neither does living my life in constant fear of death."

That is fine if you are otherwise healthy or not pregnant, but if you are pregnant, you really need to avoid cat feces to protect your unborn child's health and if you are an AIDS patient or cancer patient receiving chemo or an organ transplant recipient, the risk of a toxoplasmosis infection is too high for you to be exposed to cat feces.

Healthy and non-pregnant people have little to fear from dog and cat poop, but not everyone is healthy or not pregnant. A good friend of mine is a kidney transplant recipient and I like to share my tomatoes with her. So just keep this in mind if you have neighbors/friends who aren't as healthy as you and you share your produce with them. Same if you have pregnant neighbors/friends.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 3:44PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


No offense intended but you are being a bit silly........it isn't as if the toxoplasmosis or worms are IN THE tomatoes. The concern is the SURFACE of the fruit or veggie. I would assume you have soap and water at your house right? If so crisis averted:)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 5:15PM
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I am a veterinarian. The percentage of free-roaming dogs and cats that are infected with hookworms, roundworms, and toxoplasmosis is amazing. An ophthalmologist that I talked to said the leading cause of blindness in children is visceral larval migrans from roundworms. Racoons carry a type of roundworm that can kill you. Please do check out the CDC and CAPC websites before dismissing these concerns so quickly. That said, I am not so worried about things growing up high (like tomatoes) as I am about things that are eaten raw and grow close to or in the ground (radishes, carrots, lettuce, etc)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 7:10PM
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sumala(9 fl)

Sounds like my "gifts" of free veggies and fruits should be accompanied (?) by a disclaimer as long and detailed as those in the drug adds on teevee. You know the ones, longer than the drug promotion and scary enough to convince me it's easier and less painfull to just face the illness. And cheaper.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 8:28PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Who is dismissing? It is just all this dramageddon over something cured with simple soap and water.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 8:30PM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

I'm not a doctor, veterinarian, pregnant, immune compromised, too young, too old or any of those things I've been reading. I AM infectious disease (pseudomonas) compromised, currently have dogs, have had dogs and cats most my life. Oh, and I'm a g'Imp trying to grow edibles under heavy canopy.

I don't particularly want to find dog poop or cat poop in my veggie gardens. Nor do I want to find squirrels, possums, and armadillo's digging up my veggie garden.

What to do? Use a bit of common sense, knowledge and compromise.

First off, if your veggie gardens are in your back yard, then it can be quite simple. Fence your yard, or fence your garden. Then you are dealing with only your own self and critters. If you are out in the boonies, well then you might need to fence your gardens anyway.

If you are in an urban or suburban environment, most all have dog leash laws and pick up the poop laws. You should not be finding free roaming dogs in your 'hood. If you are, and they are strange dogs call animal control. If you know the dogs owners, talk to them or call code enforcement.

Dogs and cats have habitual potty practices. They potty about the same time and place each day. If you have a dog or cat potty'ing in your yard, gather up the feces and take them to where you think they should be using the potty.

Dogs will generally look for an open area to do their doo. Edible gardens are generally not very open. Cats like loose sandy type soil. Edible gardens are usually heavily mulched with stuff cats don't particularly like to squat in.

Planting edible garden borders to deter cats, dogs, squirrels, possums, armadillos and what have you do help. These are generally things that have an odoriferous, hot and/or spicy nature to them. Small garden fence/borders can be ornamental and practical.

My primary gardens are all in my front yard. Out by the street in my front yard. I have never had dog or cat poop IN my garden. Near it, yes. I have removed it. Simple, and done.

I also have a raised garden area in my back yard. It is in a tucked away garden with a simple PVC pipe fence to keep our dogs out. I also grow some stuff in the dogs area of the back yard. These are all in tall pots, straw bales, or fenced off. It's compromise in this case. I'm encroaching on their playground, I'll accommodate them.

No matter where you are getting your fresh vegetables from you should be washing them. If you don't know their history or are concerned about poo - well then wash more thoroughly. Mexico papaya and e-coli?

If you are any of those things listed, such as old, young, feeble, febrile - then eat all your food cooked if you are worried about it.

I am not any of those things that have been tossed about in this thread - but I am high risk for a soil born infectious disease. My primary doctor, my trauma surgeon and my infectious disease doctor all applaud my choice to grow my own food. Just be smart and...

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 8:36PM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

Oh, and I forgot to say .... If you guys want to tease me for washing my carrots, well just go right ahead. I'm liable to laugh right along with you ... on my way to the sink!


    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 9:53PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Seriously! Wash things that come in contact w/ soil before eating them - & your hands too. FWIW, I understand the CDC recommends simple, proper handwashing as a way to avoid all kinds of pathogens.

& if you want to be really skeeved out, check out the series on Animal Planet about parasites, "Monsters Inside Me". It'll make anyone think twice before repeating that stupid saying: God made dirt & dirt don't hurt"....

Here is a link that might be useful: Monsters Inside Me

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 10:33AM
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Hand washing if done properly - i.e., using enough soap and washing for long enough - is certainly an effective tool in preventing the spread of many infectious diseases. However, the reality is that most people do not use adequate soap nor do they wash long enough for the hand washing to be effective.

If you know a dog or a cat is defecating in your vegetable garden, that is your business whether or not you eat the vegetables. But if you share your veggies/fruits with others, please let them know in case they are pregnant/trying to get pregnant or immunocompromised so that they can decide whether or not to take the risk for themselves.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 8:31PM
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