Yes, rabbits are marble eyed, floppy eared, fuzz balls of cuteness. They are fun to watch bounce across your back yard, however it is what they do when you aren’t looking that can be frustrating. They have no respect for boundaries or that garden you have been slaving away in all summer. Rabbits have two bad habits-chewing and swallowing. They love your flowers, your green beans, your blossoms. To a rabbit, rows in a garden are like isles in a grocery store. Learning early on how to prevent rabbits from gobbling up your harvest is something every gardener must to do. So to prevent them from getting fat off of your hard labor, we’ve compiled a list of tips and products designed to aide you in safekeeping your fruits and vegetables from rabbits and other garden predators.
The Night Prowler
You came out early this cool morning, coffee in hand to survey over the hard work you’ve done the past few weeks..and there it is. Those lush leaves that erupted from your green bean starts just a few days ago are gone. All that is left behind are some feeble, wilting stems. They may look like they were cut or even eaten by insects and chances are they weren’t and the perp may still be lingering nearby. Rabbits will dig a hole, possible near or under your garden shed or garage; maybe they’ll set up camp under that wood pile or stack of junk. While I prefer to dispatch varmits with “extreme prejudice” my wife requires a softer technique. The idea is to discourage them from getting to your vegetables in the first place, either thru fear or lack of interest. Rabbits do their best work at night, so peeking out the kitchen window every so often during the day won’t do much. Lets look at some ideas that won’t cost you sleep or a lot of money.
Cut back and clear the perimeter. Tall grass, weeds, shrubs, wood piles, etc are invitations to stake out and set up camp. Rabbits prefer concealment over open ground.
If you have cats, instead of dumping that bag of cat litter in the trash, carry a bag or two into your garden and set them on the ground between rows and near the plants. Or place pieces of cat poop thru out the garden. Rabbits will not linger once they detect the smell of a predator. It is like garlic to a vampire. Hair is also known to be effective. Dog, cat or human. A batch from junior’s last haircut sprinkled around will also aid in turning back the greens nibblers. Hair should be unwashed and usually is effective up to 10 days per batch. Urine is also known to work when poured around the edges of the garden. It can be diluted at a 10/1 ratio with water to help with excess nitrogen and odors. Raw eggs are disliked by rabbits as well as spices. You can fill a spray bottle with water, dish soap and things like red/black pepper, tabasco, garlic, or a combination. The idea is to ruin the taste for Mr/Ms Bunny. Make sure the soap is safe for your plants before using.
Bone or blood meal has also shown to repel rabbits and like most of the items listed, needs to be reapplied according to weather conditions and your watering routine. Fish emulsion, like we use for new starts is another natural repellent that has proven to be effective. If your garden is their roadside diner, the idea is to give the place the look of a rough hangout where the nare do wells gather and the food is bad.
Note that most treatments will have to be reapplied after rains or watering.
Build The Wall
You probably won’t get the rabbits to pay for it, but there are plenty of inexpensive solutions out there for keeping them from hopping your borders and making your garden great again.
It can be as simple as snow fencing, chicken wire, livestock fencing which are all readily available at your local home improvement or farm supply stores. One note-a determined rabbit can dig and go “under the wire”, however you don’t have to bury the bottom of your fencing; an easy solution is to simply fold the bottom of your vinyl fence material to the outside of your fence and secure it with a weight ie bricks.
If a fence is not an effective deterrent to the strong willed bunny, live traps can be set inside the garden. These are simple and effective wire containers with a one way door and a spot for bait. Simply place them near your plants and hit the sack. If you have a guest in the morning, you can easily relocate or otherwise dispose of them in a humanitarian manner.
The sight of a predator, even a plastic owl with those large glassy eyes, can be enough to ward off rabbits. Post one on a stick in your garden making sure to move it around every few days.
Using small sections of fencing material and building a mini “hoop house” can also be effective at isolating plants that rabbits have singled out. Just block the open ends with plywood as a temporary means until they grow above the rabbits line of sight.
There are many other methods for preventing damage by varmits, some more effective than others. Let us know what works for you.