I now believe that my garden may have been built on a long-established migratory path used by generations of rabbits to traverse through this land, which was at one time a field of some kind.
The evidence for this theory lies just to the other side of my little sign that says “enter with a happy heart” where there is a well-worn path under the fence. I’ve tried many times to put mulch here, to build up the dirt on this spot, but it never stays long, as rabbits, and probably other critters, keep using this spot to get into the garden. How ironic my sign now seems. It’s almost as if I am subconsciously welcoming the rabbits to ignore the fence and come on in. “Enter with a happy heart” might as well say “Welcome to May Dreams Gardens and make yourself at home. What would you like to eat?”
But the rabbits are not welcome in my garden. They are a bunch of freeloaders. They watch while I do all the work of sowing, watering, and planting, and then as soon as my back is turned, they do all the eating.
So this weekend, I am going to take matters into my own hands and seal off this opening so that no more rabbits can travel via this migratory route into the garden.
This leaves the question of what to do about the rabbits who are already in the garden, who presumably won’t be able to get out of the garden once I seal that opening. Or at least they won’t be able to leave by that migratory path. Am I obligated to continue to feed and house them as long as they are here?
Perhaps, but it will be under my terms and conditions, the primary one being “no eating in the vegetable garden or in any flower beds”. Or more specifically, “eat as much lawn as you want, but leave everything else alone”.
To ensure there is no eating especially in the vegetable garden, I will again use a variety of methods.
For early spring vegetable crops, I’ll cover the entire raised bed with a row cover. This is a white woven cloth available in most garden centers or mail order sources.
For my tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants, I’ll sprinkle cayenne pepper on them until they are large enough to withstand a few nibbles from a bunny.
For the green beans, I’ll once again employ the method of building a fortress around each row using plastic spoons or forks, or maybe even sporks, or foons.
Why is it that I use different methods for different crops?
Let’s move on because I don’t know why I use different methods like this. I know there are other methods I could try.
Someone once suggested planting clover nearby, because clover is a favorite food of rabbits. They would presumably eat the clover instead of what’s planted in the garden. But I’d be afraid they would just consider the clover one food crop of many, the “many” being in the vegetable garden, and they would eat all of it.
Others have suggested using one of those awful smelling sprays on the garden to keep the rabbits away. I’d be afraid that the neighbors might get a whiff of it if the wind was blowing in their direction and call the authorities, who might come and do a yard by yard search and discover that it was me.
Others have suggested that I secure the entire perimeter of the garden because my yard is fenced in. I attempted that one year by securing strips of hardware cloth along the bottom of the fence. I don’t want to get into the details, but this ‘secured perimeter’ was quickly breached by the rabbits. Such is the lure of my garden to the rabbits that even this didn’t stop them.
So it seems I have no options other than to try to co-exist with the rabbits, to come up with my rules that they may refuse to learn and understand, and then to go beyond that to make it very obvious what should and should not be eaten.
I’m good with that. I can live this way, but the rabbits need to meet me halfway, learn my ways, and learn what not to eat.
It seems so little to ask…