Rabbits & gardens don’t mix…

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Started back in March, in unseasonably warm weather, the garden above has exceeded my expectations. The tomatoes are huge and all ten plants (of various varieties) have green tomatoes that will probably begin ripening within the next couple of weeks. The potatoes are so beautiful, so green and in such straight rows with yellow straw all around. The cabbages, planted for Rebecca and Aunty Emma as I’m not a fan, are doing really well. I have harvested a whole row of radishes and a new row planned. Okra is high and a second planting has begun to prosper.

Broccoli, a favorite, and Cauliflower, not a favorite, are beginning to produce small heads of distinguishable size. Onions are getting taller, garlic is blooming nicely and two kinds of squash have small squash coming on. The lettuce, however, is another matter. Two days after planting, a huge rain washed it out of one bed and all ended up in the one below. But it had begun to grow when the rabbits discovered it. They also discovered the spinach and sweet peas. Now, the sweet peas were a real disappointment as the family loves peas.

The day I began clearing the space for the garden I uncovered a nest of three juveniles hiding under straw. As they scattered I thought, “I should catch those and get rid of them.” But how do you “get rid” of a cute baby bunny? Soon I realized my mistake–mama had found them and managed to keep them alive and all four were now munching on my lettuce, spinach and peas. As well as an annual bulb flower that was struggling to get up to bloom.

I tried several things, stinky bath soap tied on stakes around the tender plantings; and they did avoid the two inches around each soap! Then I tried cayenne pepper. To no avail. Fox urine was next and they must have no genetic imprinting of fox as a predator as it didn’t slow them at all. It did, however, gag me. A week ago I uncovered the mama’s second crop of babies, this time very small, and as I stood there paralyzed they ran to the fence line and disappeared.

The produce continued to be munched and Rebecca and I finally decided it was time to bring in the big guns. Literally. A friend who is a hunter and gun fan, brought his pellet gun over and dispatched two. We figure we got the mama and one of the older juveniles. Yesterday, I saw another one!

Rabbits really do breed like rabbits! I tried to reason with them in the beginning. I said, “Look at all that clover. I’ll throw you some lettuce out every once in a while and maybe a few leaves of spinach. In return I will let you live.” Guess I don’t speak rabbit. As my friend dispatched the two he managed to find in the yard, I stood at the garden watering, trying not to think about the life that was leaving the small cute bodies. The hunter instinct has never been a part of my personality; my father was a hunter and the meat he brought home for us to skin and cut up always made me cringe. But I did eat it and enjoyed it.

Wish there was a way to raise a garden and manage to work out a deal with rabbits and squirrels (I’m told they love ripe tomatoes and there are many around the garden). Because gardens and rabbits and squirrels do not mix.

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