Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dealing With Bunnies

I used to think that bunnies were cute. What normal person doesn't? They are small, furry, cuddly (looking), and they hop. Cute, right? Well... I started growing vegetables, and I changed my mind about the whole cute business.

We have a six foot tall board-on-board fence all around the backyard for our two dogs, so I didn't think we had to worry about any wild animals trespassing on our yard (did I mention that I'm a city girl, generally unfamiliar with the digging abilities of small animals?). We also put up a plastic fence around the garden area to keep the dogs out, so I thought the garden crops were fairly well protected. But it wasn't long before the damages started. First the lettuce and spinach got chewed up. Then the pea seedlings disappeared overnight. The bean seedlings also suffered. It was driving me crazy!

Then Keith emailed me this picture one day:

It (and all its family/friends) chewed through the plastic fence, after wiggling its way under the outside fence! Having no sympathy for the bunny (as cute as it was) that had been chewing on my babies (vegetables), I was happy (more like overjoyed) when Keith told me that Sienna went after the bunny. Look what Sienna did for us:

Let's just say, that was not a good day for this bunny.

Unfortunately, this bunny must have come from a big family, because the damages to the crops didn't stop. They just kept getting worse. Over the course of about a month, Sienna caught four bunnies, but she wasn't a 24/7 bunny hunter, and the bunnies just kept coming back. I wanted to put up a stronger chicken-wire type of fence, but Keith had other ideas, and I ended up with this:

The right-most box suffered some damage when the box accidentally got dropped while being moved. I'm told that the boxes were verrrrrrry heavy (one of the few benefits of being a long-distance gardener is that I'm not always around to partake in the heavy lifting - literally this time - when something needs to be done). We'll have to repair it at the end of this season.

So far, the remaining crops that survived the initial bunny attacks are doing okay in the elevated boxes. I just don't have as many plants left as I would like, but hopefully I can plant more fall crops.

Have you had any problems with bunnies, and how did you deal with them?


Annie's Granny said...

My bunny lives in his cage, so he's no problem for me ;- I even grow a garden just for him, when we're in AZ for the winter. We have so many wild bunnies in AZ, but the plastic netting has worked great for me. I had one trying to tunnel under, but I kept collapsing his tunnel, and he finally gave up. Of course, we feed our wild bunnies, so they aren't too hungry for garden goodies.

Annie's Granny said...

I meant to mention, you might want to double the depth of those beds next year. I find the 6" depth (which is more like 4" after settling) only works well for shallow rooted veggies like lettuce.

thyme2garden said...

How do you feed your wild bunnies, and what do you feed them? How far away from your garden do you feed your wild bunnies? My wild bunnies chewed right through the plastic netting fence around my vegetables!

Annie's Granny said...

I used to buy 50 pound bags of rabbit pellets at the feed store, but I soon discovered they'd hop away from the pellets to eat the cracked corn in the bird feed, so I started buying chicken scratch, and mixing it with the wild bird seed. That seemed to make everyone happy. I fed them way out in the front of our mobile home, probably 75 feet away, and just scattered it on the ground around a little mesquite tree. I don;'t feed anything here in WA, just the dogs and Mr. Granny. My next door neighbor, Pat, takes care of feeding the birds, and we don't have wild rabbits.

thyme2garden said...

Granny, I will have to convince Keith to let us procure more lumber to build up the beds next year. I remember reading about how you had to "fight" Mr. Granny to get more wood to build those boxes in 2008. Any tips you want to share? :)

Annie's Granny said...

You could give Keith away. That's what I'm about to do with Mr. Granny. Know anyone who might want him? Can you tell he got on my nerves today? I'll be blogging about it ;-)

Actually, I ask him when I want something, but if the answer is "no", I do what I want, anyway. Of course, I'm not talking thousand of dollars here, but if Mr. G hadn't given in on the boards, I'd have just driven up to Lowe's and bought them anyway. Mr. G knows I have a mind of my own, he doesn't fight it.

Robin said...

We have a lot of bunnies here. They are what I call "city bunnies" who aren't afraid of people. They will sun themselves in the yard. You can walk within two feet of them and they don't move!

I use spray to deter the bunnies from the beds. There are several types out there that work very well. The spray always worked until last year when I had one bunny that ate all of the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. This year I added chicken wire around the beds and purchased a different spray to use. My beds are much higher then yours. My one cat and my son's cat also do some bunny hunting.

thyme2garden said...

Robin, if you could share the names of the bunny sprays you've liked, I would really appreciate it! I've been a bit weary of spraying anything on the vegetables.

Granny, although Keith and I don't agree on everything all the time, I don't want to give him away just yet! We are now in agreement over how to expand our veggie garden next year, and I'm looking forwarding to incorporating your tips and info I've picked up from your blog.

Robin said...

This year I am using "Rabbit and Groundhog Out" it is completely natural. I purchased it on the internet at This spray smells nice, like mint.

I have also used "Liquid Fence" this also works well. You can purchase this anywhere. It's also completely natural. I really don't like the smell though.

thyme2garden said...

Robin, thank you for the info!

foodgardenkitchen said...

Hi! I followed a link from Daphne's Dandelion's to your blog. Oh, the poor bunny :( But I feel your pain - we've also had some bunny damage and significant vole damage this year. I'm not willing to kill the bunnies (pet bunnies from childhood would come and get me...; plus, they amuse me more than they're bothersome; admittedly, we only have 3 or 4 bunnies) but you sound like you've got a pretty big problem. Good for Sienna (your dog's name prompted me to post because my first dog's name was Sierra, not to mention that I'm also a CA transplant...) in getting 4 of 'em. Historically, farm dogs and cats were used to keep the rodents at bay so she is doing her ancestor's bidding.

It sounds like you're making many of the same mistakes I made when I started up vegetable gardening again three years ago (and in a very differnt climate from my previous forays into growing produce). Don't worry, there's a learning curve. You'll probably gain a whole new respect for those who grow food for a living as a result. It looks like you're doing OK though.

Best of luck!

thyme2garden said...

Oh, thank you for taking the time to visit, read, and leave a comment! I would much rather that the bunnies stayed away on their own, but I guess they didn't get that memo. I'm not sure that I could personally kill them myself. I just tell myself that when Sienna does it, it's all part of the "natural" process.

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alex amarxon said...

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