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Basil's Outdoor "Turtle Garden"

In the early spring of 2001, we dug up an area of our backyard to create a triangular "turtle garden" for Basil to play in (supervised, of course, since we have not yet made the enclosure predator proof). The enclosure was in the shape of a triangle with each edge being about 7 m long. We spread organic top soil on the garden, and at the end of May we seeded it with lots of clover, mixed grasses and weeds, and leafy greens. We also planted a selection of edible plants including nasturtiums, impatiens, violets and hens and chicks, and tropical hibiscus. The California Turtle & Tortoise Club's "Edible Landscaping for Tortoises" webpage provided useful guidance in plant selection.

It took a couple of weeks for the seedlings and young plants to establish themselves. At that point we introduced Basil to her garden. She immediately started to explore the entire area, stopping every few feet to take a mouthful of clover or some other plant. She also sniffed at and nibbled anything else that was in the enclosure—including small stones, dirt, and cat poop.

We always sat out with Basil when she was in the garden, since we have not yet made the enclosure safe for her (we have lots of cats, skunks and racoons in  Toronto, all of which would love to get at a little tortoise like Basil). It was quite obvious to us that Basil loved being out in the garden, getting fresh air and sunshine, and grazing on all the plants and other organic (and sometimes, inorganic) material she happened upon. To allow Basil to safely spend time outdoors without our supervisions, we settled on building a cat enclosure that would be shared by Basil and our two Siberian Cats - Pumpkin and Salem.