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Having a little vegetable garden is probably one of the most satisfying projects that a gardener will ever attempt. Not only will you work with plants (which you love) but every few months or so, you’ll have some delicious food to put into a soup, broth or stew. Doesn’t that sound great (and delicious!)?
But having a vegetable garden does come with some serious challenges, one of which is rabbits. Cute as they may be, these fluffy animals can cause a lot of damage if uninvited.
Why are rabbits such a pest?
Unfortunately, rabbits can destroy a garden overnight. Specifically, they attack your green sprouts and newly-grown plants, as they love the taste of fresh sprouts.
Rabbits also eat a lot and don’t stop unless they’re in danger. A garden is usually a safe place for them to eat. It’s fenced off and doesn’t always have dogs, because we all know how damaging a dog can also be to a garden. Thus, without even trying, your tranquil garden just might be a bunny haven.
The cottontail is the most common rabbit you’ll have to keep out of your garden. They eat just about anything from bark, leaves, fruit, buds (they love buds), flowers or grass seeds – and even plants that are supposed to repel them!
But the biggest problem with rabbits is their numbers.
They can boom from one to ten in less than three weeks, and just after six months, the new batch of babies will be ready to reproduce as well. A doe can have a litter every month and they range from 8 to ten in size. ‘Breeding like rabbits’ isn’t just a term! Controlling their numbers is next to impossible, so the best you can is try and control them.
Do Rabbits eat tomato plants?
Yes! Rabbits will chew on just about anything, even plants that are supposed to repel them, so they will most certainly come to munch on your plump tomato plants – especially then they’re still young and green.
Rabbits can topple an entire vine if they’re determined enough. So it’s best to keep them out.
How to tell if you have rabbits in your garden?
Before you start a campaign to rid your garden of rabbits, rather first confirm that you indeed have rabbits in your garden. Look out for the following signs of bunny-infestation:
- Tufts of fur caught on the fencing. If you have holes in your fences or areas they can easily slip under, take a moment to go and check and see if you can find any hair or tufts of fur stuck to the fences. If you do, you probably have sneaky rabbits entering your garden.
- Clean-cuts on your plants. If it looks like someone has been snipping your flowers with scissors, you most likely have rabbits. Their teeth slice the plants in very clean cuts. Neat, but naughty!
- Droppings. Rabbits will leave pea-sized droppings where they’re munching. When you spot the clean cuts, check your entire garden for droppings.
- Plants go AWOL. If you wake up one morning and your tender green sprouts are gone, you probably have a rabbit infestation. In the immortal words of our bunny-friend thumper “Eating greens is a special treat,” and don’t they know it.
Other animals you can find in your garden.
How to keep them from getting in!
Now that you’ve established that you have the next bunny apocalypse in your garden, you’re going to want to keep them out. There are numerous ways you can try to keep the bunny pests out of your garden, and you won’t need the hunting rifle to do so.
1) Adjust the immediate environment
Before you start setting traps or spraying your plants with red peppers (yes you can try that) try adjusting the environment first. If your garden isn’t accessible or inviting to a rabbit then by that logic they won’t come in.
Here are few things you can do to adjust your garden to make it less rabbit friendly:
- Check the fencing to make sure they can’t slip in.
Chicken wire fencing around your garden is a tried and true method to keep the rabbits out. You can install it about 4 feet high and bury it around 5-6 inches deep. If you bend the fence outward, they will not be able to climb over it. You can also use chicken wire to make little protective cones around some of your plants.
- Move the dog’s bed to the part of the yard where the rabbits are.
If you have a dog, and it’s well-trained to not dig up your petunias, consider moving his bed to the garden area. Rabbits will be far warrier to enter if a dog is in the immediate vicinity.
- Add a floodlight.
A floodlight will at least frighten them and you’ll know when there is movement in the garden. However, this might also drive you crazy, so use only if you’re willing to chase them off every time.
- Make sure they don’t feel safe
Break up the underbrush, remove cozy grass or leaf piles, fill in any holes and block off any places they might want to hide under. Rabbits will be less likely to return to a place they find unsafe. They are extremely cautious creatures by nature.
2) Use their noses and tastebuds against them
If you’ve adjusted the garden and you’re still finding half-eaten tomatoes, you can try adding some bad-smelling salts and spices to deter rabbits, or even coat your plants in sometimes sharp spots they won’t enjoy.
Things you can include are:
- Try scattering some sulfur around the plants.
- Put some talcum powder on the plants.
- Use a mixture of hot peppers, onions, garlic ground together to coat on your tomatoes and prevent them from wanting a taste!
- You can also spray your plants with Lysol. Mix 1 teaspoon Lysol into 1 gallon of water and spray away.
3) Set a trap
If push comes to shove and your repellents and perfect fencing isn’t keeping them out, your last resort will be to set up traps. Sometimes there just isn’t another way. However, there are humane traps that you can buy. Simply place it in the garden around the place where the rabbits often visit. Put in some delicious treats like carrots, celery sticks and other veggies, put a tarp over it to make it cozy and wait.
Be sure to check it every morning, and if you finally catch a rabbit take it out to a place where it won’t do much harm, like a field or nearby forest.
Rabbits are cute, we really can’t deny that, but adorable or not, they can be harbingers of destruction if not controlled. Taking the time to rabbit-proof your garden will spare you a lot of headaches and heartaches over your luscious green vegetable garden , and will ensure you can still make your tomato soup when those tomatoes are nice and plump.