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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rabbit Wars: My Rules of Engagement

The hole in my center garden bed appears to be getting bigger, and I still don’t know what or who lives in it.

In an attempt to avoid getting wet, it was raining, I first tried to view the hole from the house using some binoculars, hoping to catch sight of a rabbit burrowed in there attempting to keep dry.

I was unable to view the hole from that far away, so umbrella in hand (remember, it was raining and still is) I went out to the garden to see the hole up close. Once outside, I had a few flashbacks of the last time I was in the garden on a “rabbit errand” holding an umbrella to keep from getting wet. Déjà vu, I’ve done this before!

Helllloooo… Anybody home?
Now where would a rabbit go on a rainy evening like this? I did some cursory checking around the garden and under a few shrubs and found no rabbits.

But is this a rabbit’s warren? There is no fur inside, but the hole is definitely a hole that something dug, and it is getting deeper. I’m guessing that one day I’ll go out there and the hole will be filled with baby bunnies.

Baby bunnies look like little rodents, by the way, because they are rodents. I know. I’ve found some in my garden before, in a lettuce patch, and I know I could find some again. And when I do, I know it will be frustrating and annoying and make me think of doing things I wouldn’t normally do.

Apparently, other gardeners, like Michael Pollan, author of Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, have done things they normally wouldn’t do when first confronted with wildlife that thinks a vegetable garden is full of food for them. As noted in the chapter “Nature Abhors A Garden”, he actually tried gasoline and fire to rid his garden of woodchucks before he realized that this was not the best way to keep nature out of the garden. He ended up fencing in his garden to keep them out, which is much more civilized.

Fencing is not a good option for me to keep rabbits out of my garden. I have a privacy fence around three sides of the garden, but I don’t want to fence off the fourth side and create a barrier between the rest of the yard and the garden. Plus a fence is expensive.

So to remain sane as I battle the rabbits, I am writing my own rules of engagement for how I will conduct myself in my war on the rabbits. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions.

I will not….

Use firearms of any kind to shoot the rabbits.

Use fire to burn out the rabbits.

Use poisons to cause the death of the rabbits.

Use traps that when sprung result in the death or injury of the rabbits.

So far, it seems like I am giving all the advantage to the rabbits!

I will…

Use deterrents, primarily cayenne pepper, to keep the rabbits from eating from the garden.

Chase after any rabbit that I find in the garden.

Use a live trap to capture rabbits and then release them someplace safe, like in my sister’s yard.

Use row covers on my garden beds for as long as I can to hide the produce from the rabbits.

Allow the neighbor’s cat to roam around the garden, as long as there is evidence that he is keeping the rabbits out.

And most importantly…

I will keep my dignity at all times, conducting myself in a civil, rational manner throughout any battle with the rabbits.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is my post for the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club, February-March virtual meeting. I have to confess that I have not finished the book, Second Nature, and probably won’t be able to by the end of the month. So I am choosing option three, to post something related to the book.

It’s easy to join in this virtual book club. There are three options:

Read the current book selection, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education by Michael Pollan, and post something about it on your blog.

-or-

Post a review of any book written by Pollan.

-or-

Post on any idea related to the topic of the book. That’s what I did.

Once you’ve posted, let me know via an email or comment, and then I’ll include a link to your post on the virtual meeting post on March 31st.

The more the merrier.

22 comments:

Kathy said...

I have a disdain for live traps, because I live in the kind of "remote location" city folks bring their live-trapped critters to, to release them. A live trap is just a way of turning your problem into someone else's problem.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Carol, I used to have sympathy for those rabbits, but after having so many of my shrubs chewed off this winter... well, I'll try to still be civil too.

I hope you win!

beckie said...

Carol, I read the part about te gasoline! I did finish the book, but am having troble writing a review. Anyway, good luck with the 'hole' and do follow your rules!

beckie said...

Carol, me again! I just read an extention guy's avice on controling rabbits. He says to use liquid fence or bloodmeal. Neither is harmful to animals and the bloodmeal is a good fertilizer.

Diana said...

Carol - you also don't want to have a dog take care of the problem for you - that will lead to tears, as I can personally attest. My boy-dog is just that, and will find and bring me anything he can catch. Much as I hate bunnies eating my green beans, I'd rather make a trip to the grocery than have his help! My only solution was fencing, but i had the garden before in an area that lent itself to a small, veggie garden and greenhouse only enclosing fence. The deer hate strips of dryer sheets - I wonder if that might deter bunnies?

Cabs said...

Fox urine, Carol! Get yourself some fox urine.
No, No..you don't have to collect it yourself! The garden and farm supply centers around my home carry it or I am sure you can find it on the web.
You put it in little bottles with holes at the top and hang them from shrubs or larger plants etc around your garden. The odor scares rodents off. You can also dab it on a rocks around your garden but them you have to renew wit any time it rains. You can also use a few moth balls but that is not as environmentally sounds.l Dog hair (form a dog that has been brushed) can also be spread around and sometimes helps! Good luck!
btw; coyote urine helps deter deer...for those with deer issues. I think I'll do a post soon on this.....
Carol
terranovadesign.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to note that rabbits are NOT rodents. They belong to the family Leporidae and the order Lagomorpha.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It sure looks like the beginning of a nice big rabbit nest. The only thing I can tell you is that dogs think baby bunnies are nice snacks. Maybe you should babysit Muncie for a week or so and she would definitely clear out any rabbits or other critters that might try to take up residence. Other than that all I can do is empathize with you.

Sarah Laurence Blog said...

Good luck with the rabbits! Good to hear you are trying to deal with the problem humanely. Back home in Maine we had squirrels that would take one nibble of our unripe strawberries and throw them away. I asked an organic farmer how he dealt with the problem. He replied that "you jus' gotta plant a lot of 'em."

Today I posted a late comment link to your great Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Mine is London Art and Gardens. I enjoyed viewing the other posts too. Thanks for organizing it and to everyone who participated.

Carolyn gail said...

Don't forget the natural repellents, Carol -rabbits and deer hate the smell of garlic ! You can purchase Protek units which are concentrated garlic concoctions that last the entire season at www.plantprotec.com. I have a client that swears by them.

gintoino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gintoino said...

The neighbour cat should do the trick of keeping the rabbits away...your american rabbits seem to be so much braver then our portuguese ones! We never see any rabbits arround the houses (maybe because in most cases they would be eaten ;-) )
And by the way...rabbits are not rodents, they are lagomorphs ;-)

Eleanor said...

Carol, I take it that rabbits are not rodents. You boo-booed. But I understand that anything that messes up your garden must be at least as vile as a rodent. I still say bunnies need to eat too. Just plant more

Frances, said...

Carol, those are good rules for dealing with the critters, but what happened to the planting of onions as a deterrent? Maybe some hardware cloth or plastic chicken wire until the onions are large enough? It has been recommended to me to put the leavings from the litter box into holes like that, but I wouldn't do it in a veggie patch. Rabbits, mice, squirrels, groundhogs, skunks, what is this world coming to? ;->
Frances at Faire Garden

lisa said...

Lots of good suggestions from commenters, and I can vouch for Liquid Fence. It smells TERRIBLE, but that fades almost entirely overnight and the varmints smell it for 30 days. I still get bunnies, but they eat only unprotected stuff. I think you're not supposed to spray it on edibles close to harvest, but I'm sure that if you have it sprayed around the veggies, the effect will be as good. Good rules for a rough war! ;-)

2greenthumbsup said...

Hi Carol,

I just read about another possible bunny deterrent.

Baby Powder.

Apparently the scent of baby powder is associated with the scent of humans, therefore the bunnies stay away. I'll be trying it because it is an inexpensive option, but like many other recommended solutions, it could just be urban myth. Won't believe it until I see it!

Gail said...

Years ago...I threw a rock at the squirrel who kept raiding the bird feeder. I don't know who was more surprised me or the squirrel when the small rock bounced off his backside. By the way, he was fine and lived to harass me for many years. But after that I knew I could never purposely harm squirrels, rabbits or even snakes. I collect wasps and let them fly away.

I like your vows. Good luck protecting your garden!

Gail

vonlafin said...

As far as I'm concerned...they are rodents!! Good luck trying to be civil.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Stick with the cayenne pepper, but add some of that Liquid Fence or other deer repellent to your ornamentals. Blood meal does no good, the little rats, I mean rabbits, just hold their little noses and eat anyway. The same for the fox/coyote urine thing. If it doesn't taste good or burns their poor little mouths, then they won't eat it.

Carol said...

I shall endeavor to call the rabbits lagomorphs! Thanks all for the tips and techniques to try. I'm going to do my best to keep the rabbits from eating in the garden this year. I'll let you all know what works.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

jodi said...

It's odd, Carol, but we don't have problems with rabbits--actually, we have hares here--at all. Maybe they stay in the woods, where the coyotes go after them. I despise coyotes, but I don't mind rabbits or hares at all. Raccoons, on the other hand, make me run for the firewood or a pot (which I biff at them and knock them off the arbour, away from the bird feeders).

cake said...

i am worried about the rabbits too. we have some that visit our yard every evening. i heard that marigolds can help deter them, is that true? i will also look into the cayenne method. what is a row cover, exactly?

anyway, i like your rules. i do find them to be sort of cute, and my two year old sure loves to see them. he's good at chasing them off though,too.