Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vegetable Gardening: The Rabbits Ate My Tomatoes, Now What?

Seven years ago I moved into my new home in the suburbs. I lived in a city where the sight of a rabbit was as a rare as Halley’s Comet. In fact in the city in which I lived, pigeons were more of a problem than any other type of animal you could think of.

So I started my garden in my new home. A row of beefsteak tomatoes, a row of grape tomatoes, peppers and so on made up my plot of land that I designated to grow my produce. With no experience in protecting my garden from rabbits, once my plants were in the ground I figured I was done so I simply walked away.

The next morning I arose to see that both rows of tomatoes (beefsteak and grape) were absolutely decimated. Chewed down to the stem with about an inch of height from the topsoil, the rabbits left near nothing.

After doing some research, instead of buying new plants I learned that the tomatoes will return and that they grow like a weed, meaning, that even though they were chewed down to the stem, tomato plants will still grow even though their solar collectors (their leaves) no longer existed.

But I also knew that if I did not take any preventative measures the rabbits would be back to finish the job. So here is what I did. First, I outlined my garden with landscaping bricks and set them two bricks high. That alone will not keep the rabbits out so I also added a fence. I use poultry fence which is available at any home center. Sixteen inches of height is all you will need for rabbits (at least in my area).

I attached the fencing to some pieces of cedar wood that acted as fence posts, which holds the poultry fence in place. If you are unfamiliar with poultry fence, it is very wobbly, “bendy” you could say, so you will need to attach it to something in order to stabilize it. I used J-T50 staples to attach it to my posts. They are also available at any home center.

The bottom of the fence sits about an inch to two inches lower than the top layer of brick. I am not sure if rabbits can squeeze in, but I did not want to take any chances.

The bricks were the most expensive at about two dollars per brick, and the fence was thirteen dollars for a fifty foot roll. I found the wood on Craigslist for free, so other than the cost of gas to drive a couple of miles to go get it, that part was free, and I already had the staples from a pervious project. So the cost to secure my garden from rabbits was nominal at best.

If you are having issues with rabbits give these solutions a try. It is a cost effective solution without having to spray any chemicals that are developed to “deter” rabbits. Also make sure you buy poultry fencing and not the “so called” rabbit fence. The rabbits can and have gotten through the “rabbit proof” fence in my area in the gardens that belonged to some of my neighbors.

About the Author
Michael is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person, a practical easy to follow guide for the home vegetable gardener. You can follow him on Twitter as well as join his Facebook Fan Page.

No comments:

Post a Comment