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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

More On Keeping the Bunnies Out of Our Veggies

When are those critters with long ears and cotton ball tails called bunnies and when are they called rabbits? I think I'm beginning to sense when.

I felt something like the fictional Scottish farmer Mr. McGregor the other night, chasing not one but four bunnies around the yard. I don't think I'll be baking any of these cute critters into a pie for supper (as Mrs. McGregor did). I am, however, actively trying to dissuade them from gobbling up my vegetable garden.

So, how do you keep bunnies/rabbits out of a vegetable garden? I'm not sure they're paying attention to my lectures on choosing grass instead of vegetables. For the most part, I feel we're lucky that the rabbits haven't done more damage to our garden. They've eaten the leaves off of strawberry plants and last year they chewed the pea vines right off at the base. So far, that's it. This year, we skipped planting peas altogether. No use devoting precious garden space to something so tempting to the animals. So, that's one thing we've done to save the veggies for ourselves.

Another thing that has worked for us is this year, after transplanting tender young zucchini plants into the garden, I protected them well with empty gallon milk jugs with the base cut off. Last year, it was a bit of a battle between us and the bunnies with the zucchini. I had to reseed the summer squash, as the rabbits chewed the seedlings down to the soil after the first attempt. This year, so far so good. I think the milk jug protection has been working. As the plants grow, the main stem should become too tough to chew through. 

When the zucchini seedlings grew too large for the milk jugs, I moved those containers over to protect some tiny Romaine lettuce seedlings that were in the garden.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we made a couple of primitive stick fences to enclose the strawberry beds. Those appear to be working. Although an earnest rabbit could jump these low fences, the thought is they might just be deterred enough to move on to another planted area, hopefully one that the people don't plan on eating themselves.

When I transplanted the Brussel sprout seedlings into the garden, I covered that patch with insect cloth and secured the edges with stones. I transplanted these about 3 weeks ago. I checked on them today and they appear to be doing well under the cloth. Again, like the zucchini, I hope the main stems become too tough soon and I can lift the cloth for the rest of their growing season.

But I think the best move we've made is to grow foods that are tender and appealing to rabbits raised off the ground. I've shown you the hanging salad baskets we have growing across the back side of our house. 

We've also utilized space in our trough planters for beets and lettuce. 

I planted a shallow bowl planter with the remaining lettuce seedlings from planting the hanging baskets. The bowl planter is currently sitting on the deck table  along with planters of basil.

I seeded spinach in pots which I set on top of the tall and narrow terracotta pots, just high enough that the rabbits can't even peak over the edge to see what's there. And, I planted the carrots in deep pots this year instead in the main garden beds.

I think mostly we're improvising on the fly and using what we have on hand. So far, the salad greens are working out fine with these efforts. I'll be seeding green beans over the weekend and I'll cover them with insect barrier like I did the Brussel sprouts. I've started seeds in the main garden as well. So far the slugs are more of a problem there than the rabbits. 

As for those 4 rabbits the other evening, after about 15 minutes of bunny craziness, I caught a glimpse of something in the air at the front of our woods. Next I saw what I think was a Cooper's hawk swooping down. I didn't see him nab any rabbits. But then again, I haven't seen those 4 bunnies in a few days. Perhaps they're hiding out someplace safe. Oh well, it's the cycle of life and all.


  1. My husband built fence panels around our raised beds that can be easily removed to work in the garden. So far, they have deterred any further critter messing in the bed. We were not so lucky with our young apple tree and the deer but we are building a taller fence around to see if that will keep them out. Sounds like you have come up with various methods to deter those bunnies, which by the way we had a nest of under the apple tree this spring.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      A nest of bunnies -- how adorable! Until it's not, right?
      I would love to have removable fence panels for our beds. Maybe someday. They sound like a great solution to use year after year and not need to rebuild anything.

  2. Sounds like you've come up with some workable solutions! We have lots of rabbits in our neighborhood in general, and in our front yard, but they seem to leave the (fenced) back yard alone. I don't have any delusions that they can't get through the fence. But my theory is that they know our dogs go out there (indoor pets, but they go out several times per day, and like to hang out with me if I'm working out there), so they leave the back alone. I do have a massive toad who liked to make himself large holes to burrow into, but I kinda like him, so we leave each other alone (though he occasionally startles me by jumping out of nowhere).

    1. Hi Cat,
      the rabbits may smell your dogs, even if they only go out periodically.
      I have never seen a burrow made by a toad. That's amazing. Lots of wildlife everywhere.

  3. My dad fought against rabbits last year and the year before needing to replant at least three times. This is the same garden and home he lived in when I was growing up but the problem is that the area has been developed all around his home. So the wild has been changed into residential and these rabbits have no where to go. Sad for them and unfortunate for dad. Pretty soon we'll lose all big garden, farms, etc. There was a big greenhouse group in the area that recently sold to a developer and they sold plants and flowers and fresh veggies to the community. Kind of sad.

    1. Hi Alice,
      I agree that it's sad the way more and more areas are losing their rural feel in favor of developments. I think that's why we suddenly have lots of bunnies. We didn't see a single rabbit until about 5 years ago. Developers have torn out huge wooded areas and put into dense housing. We had a nice greenhouse in our area, too that put their property on the market for developers.
      I hope your dad has an easier time of it with the rabbits this year.

  4. I love that you speak so kindly of the bunnies :).

    1. Hi Farhana,
      They are cute, aren't they? It's hard to be mad at them for very long when they eat parts of our garden.

  5. The battle is on! They ARE super cute, though, aren't they? The chicken wire fence around our garden seems ok for keeping the rabbits out but we do occasionally have problems with groundhogs. They can do a lot of damage to a garden in very little time. And there seems to be an ongoing slug problem .... it does seem like warfare at times, doesn't it?

    I'm amazed at how many hanging baskets you have. We seem to get a lot of gusty wind so I'm not sure that technique would work for us, but hubby has taken to planting greens in small pots around the yard and putting them on our little table/storage unit.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Groundhogs in the garden! I didn't realize they'd be a garden problem. But i can imagine. Slugs are always a pest, here. I've learned to accept imperfect produce. Sigh.
      Oh yes. I've got 5 edible hanging baskets. This with the pots should be enough for salad greens for spring. It's breezy but not too gusty in the growing season. I can imagine that gusty conditions would make hanging baskets a risk. It does sound like your husband is doing a good jog with pots, though.

  6. Everything looks lovely! Nice to see practical concepts at work. It’s time for me to make aluminum can collars for a few plants. Was out weeding this evening, already seeing whitefly and aphid beginnings. So frustrating! Whitefly has plagued me for the last 4 years. Will hit the garden center on my lunch break tomorrow for fresh horticultural oil.

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      We had a problem with cut worms for a few years and can collars is what we did, too. They seemed to work. The aphids are a problem for us with kale and other cole crops in warmer weather. It got so bad that I gave up on growing broccoli -- just too hard to get all the aphids out of the crevices. Let us know if the horticultural oil works out for you. Good luck!


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