Thanks to friend and fellow gardener, Dennis for this great article on rabbits in the garden.
We have a small rabbit living under our deck. In the morning my kids quietly watch it nibble contentedly on the clover in the backyard. I watch it with suspicion. Will it cut a destructive swath through the garden? What will it dine on first? Is anything safe from Pixie Bob’s (a bad sign – my kids have given it a name) unfettered appetite? I need to neutralize the risk, but how?
The most effective way to prevent rabbits from damaging your garden is a fence of chicken-wire or finer mesh about two to three feet high and buried six to eight inches or more under the ground (rabbits will dig). However, sometimes fencing your garden in isn’t a practical option and other approaches need to be considered. Rabbits are skittish animals so wind chimes or other noise maker devices hung near the garden can also be used to frighten rabbits away.
Dog or cat hair scattered around your garden beds will act as a reasonable deterrent until it loses its scent. Hot sauce, soap or garlic powder diluted with water and sprayed on your plants can dissuade rabbits from nibbling away at your garden. Be careful you don’t make the sprays too strong as you only want to discourage the rabbits not injure them and make sure to rinse the spray off your produce before you eat it. Selecting plants that rabbits don’t like to eat is another option for keeping them away from your garden. Garden centres can provide you with options distasteful to rabbits.
Pixie Bob, our rabbit, is an Eastern Cottontail – a variety that is found across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and throughout the continental United States. They like to nest in tall grass or locations that provide plenty of cover. Left to their own devices, a pair of Eastern Cottontail rabbits can be incredibly prolific, having the capacity to produce an estimate 350,000 offspring in five years! Although this is highly unlikely as most Eastern Cottontails only live about a year. Because they are born with their eyes closed, deaf and without fur newborn Eastern Cottontails are very vulnerable to predators. Mothers spend little time at the nest visiting once or twice a day to feed their young.
I have to admit I’ve now gotten attached to our resident rabbit and it has limited its foraging to grass and clover. It hasn’t worn out its welcome yet.
Written and submitted by Dennis a man of many talents - raised bed gardening, green roof gardening, composting, cooking, and bunny chasing!