Rabbit vs. Gardener

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 06/25, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Rabbit vs. Gardener

Extensive rabbit damage to gigante kohlrabi and Kerala red amaranth. Photo Credit Jamie Oberdick.

I have heard before that a mild spring means a lot of rabbits the following summer. 2012 seems to be proving this true, as we have had both a warm spring and seemingly, a lot of rabbits.

My garden in Port Matiilda is proof—there are rabbits everywhere this year. To non-gardeners, rabbits are cute fuzzy creatures. To gardeners, they are plant-munching monsters from hell who destroy a lot of hard work. I can attest to this, as I have had some rather irrational thoughts about the eastern cottontail, which makes up the majority of garden thieves terrorizing our backyard. While the logical side of my brain realizes that rabbits are not eating my plants on purpose, the frazzled gardener in me sees a rabbit and sees conniving wickedness in their eyes. They target my plants just to mess with me!

If this sounds positively insane, all I can tell you is you are not a gardener. Okay, maybe it is insane.

But rabbits can do a lot of damage in a garden, and ruin a lot of hard work, driving one into an Elmer Fudd/Yosemite Sam anti-rabbit state of mind. So how do you control them? Here are some suggestions:

Live trap and move: You can find live traps at any big-box store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. I know Tractor Supply offers a two-trap deal (different sizes) for around $30. Once you live trap them, take them for a ride at least several miles away to a new location, hopefully away from othe gardens. Think of it as a “witness relocation program.”

Repellents: Repellents can work, but I swear results vary depending on the rabbits. Marigolds are supposed to keep rabbits away, however in my garden, I have seen rabbits eating marigolds. Hot pepper sprays work but you have to reapply after a rain. I have been hearing some good things about Hot Pepper Wax.

Fences: A good rabbit fence should be about 2-3 feet tall. However, just as important, is how deep you bury the base. A common mistake with rabbit fences is not burying them at least 6 inches in the ground—rabbits, after all, are burrowing creatures. A good guide for building a fence can be found here.

Lethal Force: If you live in an area where you can shoot rabbits on your property, by all means, open fire. Who am I to judge.

One final note. The thing with rabbits and rabbit control is you can’t slack off. Just when you think you got rid of all of them, new ones show up!

Tags: gardening | rabbits |

{name} Author: Jamie Oberdick

Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA


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