- Category: Tips for Garden Pests
- Published on Thursday, 04 December 2008 15:18
- Written by Graham
- Hits: 483
If you feel to be constantly locked in battle with wild rabbits, here are a few tips to help you keep your sanity !
Our garden is a nightly host to dozens of wild rabbits. Every night is "party night"
On the positive side they do leave behind plenty of droppings that fertilize the ground for free. However the down-side is that these critters can destroy years of hard work in the garden overnight. They attack plants in three ways:
They eat the leaves of some plants, especially tender new shoots and the tips of leaves. Sometimes they also consume buds and flowers.
They gnaw at the stems of plants and young trees, often breaking off the stem in the process.
They dig around the roots of plants and even established trees, presumably to eat the roots. They also seem to enjoy root crops such as navet.
There are several strategies to minimise the problem. An Internet search pulls up loads of suggestions, and provides several hours of enjoyable reading ! At least it reminds us we are not being specifically targeted and others have rabbit "issues" as well as us. Of the more popular suggestions we considered:
Shoot 'em ! - Most of our French neighbours consider this the only option, with the bonus of a tasty "lapin au moutarde" to go with the crops we are protecting. We discounted this approach since we do not posess guns, and even if we did, doubt we would be happy killing fury bunnies.
Trap them: It is possible to purchase or make humane traps, then release the captives at a great distance. Discounted idea since we would have to drive past the farmer at the end of the road, who would think we were crazy (.......not to be shooting them !)
Rabbit repellent: Lots of products are available, alongside the mole repellents, serpent repellents, cat repellents, etc here in France. Most people think these are short-lived (and expensive) remedies if they work at all - so discounted.
Physical barriers: Fences seem a good though expensive method. Apparently you need a wire-mesh fence with ca one inch mesh, about 50 cm high and buried about 7 cm into the ground. This may be our future solution, though only for specific areas such as the vegetable garden. Alternatively you can protect individual plants and shrubs using an open bottle cloche (see Graham's tips for how to make these) or individual chicken-wire tubes. This photo shows both being used with success in Graham's garden.
Human hair: Many recommendations of placing small heaps of human hair to repel rabbits. If you noticed my photograph on the home page then you will realise why we discounted this as a very long term project (OK my wife has lovely hair, and the local hairdresser has loads)
Stick with plants they don't like : From the literature it seems that rabbits will take a bite out of almost any green plant, especially when other food is scarce, or they are very hungry (the run up to breeding time especially). However, from experience it seems that some plants in our garden are left alone by our local rabbits, whereas some are attacked with enthusiasm. Thus a solution to reduce the stress factor rabbits can induce is to concentrate on the former, and only cultivate the latter where they can be physically protected. It may help that I share our lists to date - check out "rabbit-resistant plants"