Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Battle of Sylvilagus floridanus (Cottontail rabbit)

The battle has just begun. The lines have been drawn and the enemy has been sighted.



I began scouting the territory in an attempt to locate the the wily villain and took these pictures. It was a difficult mission.


I crept closer and closer to the encampment of the enemy, stopping often to cautiously take reconnaissance pictures. I was afraid of discovery. My enemy has an extremely keen sense of hearing and it's awareness of its surrounding borders on the supernatural.



Preliminary reports indicate that this enemy of the garden is the infamous Sylvilagus floridanus. Gorilla warfare on vegetable gardens is their main strategy for world domination. While seemingly benign, these cute little furry creatures can decimate the tender crops of the home gardener in minutes. They will wait until the cover of evening darkness approaches then sneak into the garden to eat the tender young foliage. The Eastern cottontail rabbit has a voracious appetite and something must be done to protect the garden at all costs.


The Line Has Been Drawn.


The raised bed vegetable garden is now behind a border fence. Although it may not be the most attractive fence it will keep the voracious rabbits from entering the vegetable garden. The wire fence is covered with a vinyl coating that will prevent it from rusting in the weather and keep it safe for tiny little hands to touch. I fashioned a makeshift gate out of the remaining fencing material and a bamboo stake. By weaving the bamboo stake into the fencing it will keep the flap pieces together.


I plan to improve this fence over time by adding wooden posts and a picket fence but for now this will do. I needed a quick, easy and cheap fence to install and this wire one fit the bill. Outside of the fence area I will gradually plant perennials, shrubs and annuals as I create a circular garden around my vegetable garden. An extra advantage with this fence is that it can double as a trellis for vine plants like beans, gourds, and various flowering vines. I plan on installing plants that rabbits may not particularly enjoy, things with a strong scent. Like rosemary, Russian sage (I love that one), salvias, and various herbs. I'm still planning on installing my herb garden layout (it will be where the garden gate is) but I want to incorporate some of those scented herbs into the garden ring to dissuade rabbits from their sorties.

I've seen mixtures and deterrents that you can use but they often require reapplication after rain. There are some homemade rabbit deterrents that use hot pepper powders in them, but these require that the rabbit actually taste the plant. When they discover the strong taste they decide not to indulge themselves on your vegetables. The theory is that they will learn not to associate those plants with a food they like. I'd rather the rabbit not even get close to my plants! A fence for me is a better option. The truth is I like the rabbits, just not in the vegetable garden. From time to time I've found their droppings in the yard which I'll move to the base of a plant or a garden bed as an all natural fertilizer. I wouldn't be opposed to owning a rabbit for this very reason but I don't want to have to care for one at this point.


Yes Peter Cottontail, you are not welcome in the Veggie Garden!

8 comments :

  1. Don't be surprised if your bunnies dig under the fence. :) I just read an article about how to deter bunnies -- one thing was to sprinkle blood meal around the perimeter of the garden and beds; the other was to make up small sachets of strongly scented soap pieces, and place them strategically throughout. Apparently, rabbits have an extra keen sense of smell and dislike both of these. :) Might be worth a try. Good luck!

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  2. Call Elmer Fudd! On second thought, I dont believe he had much luck did he? LOL.

    I started my Container Garden and the first thing we did was put a fence around the area. This will deter the bunny, well that is if they dont dig under it as Nancy says can happen.

    To deter the deer which can stick their heads over the fence like a feeding trough, I found sachet bags at Dollar Tree in the wedding department of paper goods. I will fill them with Gold Dial soap. The deer stay away from the soap in our yard. I will hang the special soap bags along the fence... Squirrels may be an issue though as they have been known to take an entire bar of soap off the ground and carry them off into the woods! I will take a bunny over a squirrel in my yard any day!

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  3. I think it an attractive fence! You can't see it except for the posts! Now if we could just camoflage them...

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  4. I see 2 bunnies in the first pic so there will be many more in the near future. Oh dear, sigh!!

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  5. There is hope - rabbits are creatures of habit. If they learn there's nothing they can get at to eat in your garden, they'll start visiting the neighbors instead. As Nancy Bond advises, make sure they don't start digging to get in. This spring I've had excellent luck with Bobbex-R, which doesn't need to be reapplied after a rain. Good luck!

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  6. Plant the rosemary. I think that rabbit, prepared with rosemary, served with glazed carrots would be excellent!

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  7. Good ideas everyone! The sachets and Bobbex are worth a look.

    Thanks Tina!

    Jean,

    I sure hope not but you're probably right!

    Jim,

    Mmm...that sounds good, I've never had roasted rabbit before!

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  8. I know this is rather late in the season, or quite early, depending on your perspective, but the lady who cuts my husband's hair will keep clippings from time to time to give to people who have gardens. I think the smell of people deters the deer and maybe rabbits? I don't know how long this will last, but it might be worth a shot!

    I really enjoy your blog, you've given me many wonderful ideas! Keep up the great work :)

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