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Friday, June 06, 2008

Rabbits: Have I Found the Ultimate Weapon?

I believe I have figured out a method of keeping rabbits from eating the plants in my garden, and as a side benefit, I think it will keep cats from using MY garden as a litter box.

Let me start at the beginning and you decide if I have finally found “the answer”, the one every gardener has been seeking, a cheap way to keep rabbits from eating your vegetables before you do.

A few weekends ago, I spent part of Saturday preparing my raised vegetable beds for planting. I removed all the weeds, lightly hoed up each bed and then raked them smooth. In the process, I found evidence that a cat, the neighbor’s cat, had been using one of my 4’ x 4’ beds as his own gigantic litter box. I know which cat, because he is in my yard all the time. I guess his thinking was, “why go home to use a litter box when Carol’s got this nice, loose, soil for me to dig in?”

So I cleaned up all the cat mess, and then went inside to rest and eat. I never made it back out to the garden that day to actually plant anything because once inside I was overtaken with GPS (Gardener’s Procrastination Syndrome).

The next day, having gotten over my GPS bright and early, I went out to the garden with my seeds and plants and every tool I would need to sow and plant everything in the vegetable garden. I had a spring in my step as I am always happy when it comes time to plant the vegetable garden.

But I was stopped in my tracks when I saw evidence that the cat had been back and had done it again!

So, I cleaned up that mess and proceeded to plant pepper plants in that bed. Surely the cat wouldn’t dig where there were plants?

The next day, Memorial Day, I went to check on my newly planted garden and saw that the cat had actually covered up one of the pepper plants digging around in that bed. Cats apparently will dig where there are plants if that’s where they want to “go”.

At this point I was seeing red and thinking about BB guns and rocks and other things I could use to make that cat understand once and for all that my garden is not his litter box.

Let me pause here to tell all you cat lovers that I DID NOT harm the cat in any way and furthermore, the cat has been declawed and should not even be outside, as he can’t defend himself in a fight.

As I posted before, I put out a tweet on Twitter about how mad I was at that cat and got a tweet back to try laying rose branches or other multi-stemmed branches around the plants. (See, Twitter does have value and a purpose.)

So I tried that and it seems to have worked and as an added bonus, it seems to be protecting the plants from being eating by rabbits.

At this point, I should perhaps consider the problem solved, be happy, and look forward to fresh green beans.

But I think I may have an even better method to try.

One of my co-workers said she told a friend about me trying to keep cats out of the garden, and she suggested that I try forking the garden.

I was confused, as forking the garden to me means “turning the ground over wth a fork to loosen the soil”. How would that keep away cats?

But it turns out that forking is actually a prank where someone comes to your house and puts hundreds of plastic forks in your yard, tine end up. She thought perhaps putting plastic forks, tine end up, in the raised beds would also keep the cat out.

It sounded feasible to me, so I did some quick online searches and found that this is indeed something gardeners have done with some success to keep cats from digging in their gardens and to keep rabbits from eating their plants.

So even though most of my garden seems to be protected with all the branches everywhere, I’ve decided to try ‘forking’ my garden, as I don’t know that I will always have a good supply of the right kinds of branches, to use, but I can get plastic forks every year.

So I am trying it, but technically, I guess you could say I am ‘spooning’ the garden. For whatever reason, I happened to have a nearly full box of 600 plastic spoons, so that’s what I’m using.

I’ve placed spoons all around my emerging green bean plants, but left part of one side open as the ‘control’, as I want this to be a valid experiment.

If the rabbits eat just the beans where one side is ‘unspooned’, then I think I can say that ‘spooning’ or ‘forking’ your garden is a valid method of protecting your garden from cats and rabbits.
If the rabbits eat all the beans, I might have to go buy some plastic forks and try again.

If nothing gets eaten, I’m not sure the test is valid, as it could mean there are no rabbits around.

Yeah, right, there are no rabbits in my garden. If you believe that, then let me tell you about the garden fairies. If nothing gets eaten, I'll consider my method successful.

Anyway, wish me luck in ‘spooning’ my garden and come back for updates.

27 comments:

Eve said...

Ah, the cat situation...mine belongs to me and loves my garden,,,but this year,,she picked the radishe blocks,,so I just let her have them....after all, I love her company in the garden and it seems a small price to pay. In the coming years, I will remember watching her play, more than that radish I ate...so it's all good. : )

http://oursguarefootgarden.blogspot.com/

Kathy said...

Spoons aren't as pointy as forks are, though.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Hah! It's not pretty, but the spooning I bet will be a great solution.

BTW, I didn't think you ever suffered from GPS.

Robin at Bumblebee

SuzyQ said...

I use clear plastic forks prong side up in our large household plant pots - keeps the cats out - so you are on the right track I think!! :)

Margo said...

When I stop laughing at this post I will no doubt give the fork / spoon / branches methods a try in my own garden!!! That is brilliant, and thank you!

Jim/ArtofGardening said...

I would do this too, but just my luck I'd have the fork-eating strain of rabbits.

Cinj said...

Hmm, not exactly what I think of when I think spooning, but...

I would guess forks would work better because of all of the sharp points, but then again I've never tried it.

My declawed cats aren't allowed outside so this is one animal problem I actually don't have. (Whew!)

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

Oh, I love these kind of experiment. "Live, from Carol's test garden..." I'm glad you left a control. Looking forward to further updates.

EAL said...

That looks like a conceptual art piece, C.

Leslie said...

Spooning...something I also don't think of in relation to rabbits or cats! I'm in the process of sprinkling coffee grounds about...the Sacramento Bee claims cats dislike them. But I can only drink so many lattes...maybe I can get one of those bags of used grounds at Starbucks...if I had time to leave the garden and swing by to pick them up.

zvrk said...

I usually scatter hooly leaves around the area (sometimes works) or instead of forks/spoons (lol) method i put short sticks into ground.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This will be an interesting experiment to watch. If it works you will have to collect all the spoons,forks, knives that you get from fast food places over the year so you will have a nice collection to use in the garden. It will be ecologically friendly too. I always think it a shame to throw away those plastics after one use.

Layanee said...

Your spoons are so neatly placed! I did chuckle at this post what with all the 'forking' and 'spooning' going on and hope you have great success with this method. What happens when the beans grow higher than the spoons? I can envision giant spoons but, knowing you, you will get those spoons to grow along with the beans! A layer of compost and a bit of organic fish emulsion fertilizer and off you go!

Nicole said...

I symphatize-but I am happy found a fool proof way to keep cats, chickens and any other pesky creature out of my veggie garden-an energetic 90 pound puppy!

Laura said...

Too bad your spoons weren't sporks!

Surya said...

Hhmmm... Spooning or forking, I think that is a good idea.. Btw, do you have an idea how to handle grasshoppers from your garden? They eat leaves of my plants. I don't want to use chemical method.

Gail said...

A great idea..the pests show up at the buffet and the cutlery gets in the way!

I googled your favorite Phlox and up popped your blog, a very nice post from last year!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I've tried the ForkU method using clear plastic forks, tines facing out to try to deter the squirrels from digging up newly planted things. Marginally effective at best. The spoons won't keep anybody out because they're too smooth. Good luck with that - I hope it works out better for you than me. If not, it works as garden art.

vertie said...

Hilarious. I can't wait to see how your experiment turns out.

Carol said...

Thank you all for the great comments and thoughts on "spooning" to control rabbits. I'll post soon on how it is working.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

The Garden Faerie said...

Carol, you crack me up--like claws would be any kind of defense against rocks or BBs!! ;-) But I understand just what you mean, because I have all sorts of evil thoughts about my groundhogs even though I would never harm them.

You might want to plant some catnip or catmint in a separate little area for your neighbor's cat to distract it from your main beds.

Incidentally, the groundhog laughed at my "forked" barberry branches. In fact, I think "installing" them hurt me more than him!

But I also have a ton of plastic cutlery and will try them around my lupine seedlings, which *some*one is eating...

Waiting for your updates!

~ Monica

Perennial Gardener said...

I think that is a great idea. I do a similar thing with my potted plants. I put small bamboo sticks in the pot to keep my dog from sitting in the planter. Don't ask me why she likes to sit in the planter pot, that's another story altogether. But I have also found this process effective in keeping cats from using your potted plants as litter boxes. Good luck!

The Garden Faerie said...

I forgot to mention, in the cat garden I used to tend (yes, a garden for cats), we had a little area (maybe 2'x3') of peat that the cats used as the litter area. My own indoor/outdoor cats tend to go in areas between my foundation and big mounds of plants. (I hope they're not reading these comments to get other ideas, as I see the other felines are much more creative!)
~ Monica

inadvertentgardener said...

Carol, this post absolutely cracked me up -- I love the ingenuity and the fact that you used a control side to really keep the experiment on the up-and-up, and all that -- it is wonderful! Can't wait to hear how it all turns out.

Lori said...

Ah, forking...Little did we know that every time we forked a friend's yard as a prank in high school, we were actually helping them out with a rabbit and/or cat problem! This post brought me back to those days - thanks for the laugh.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Since you're using spoons and spooning the garden, perhaps you're romancing it too?~~Dee

Katie E-P said...

I have a huge box of forks from costco!

I wonder if they repel squirrels?