It’s spring. After a long, cold winter I’ve been eager to get outdoors and dig in the dirt. I have lots of perennials so that I don’t have to replant every bed every year. But the landscape designer left me a few areas for “annual color.” So each spring I trek to Lowe’s, buy whatever strikes my fancy and play in the dirt for an afternoon.
A few weeks ago I decided the danger of frost was over and made the trek. I purchased nine small pots of purple fan flowers and a sweet basil plant. Six fan flowers went at the end of the driveway and three went in the backyard. I planted the basil where I used to plant tomatoes since I’ve given up the idea of raising tomatoes after two miserably failed attempts. My subdivision used to be a cotton field and despite tilling in peat moss, my tomatoes bore little fruit and what it did bear was tasteless.
The next morning I went out to check on my plants and discovered the fan flowers in the back and the basil plant had been eaten off level with the ground.
Wabbits! Wascally wabbits!
I’ve not had a rabbit problem before because I had a cat. But we had to get rid of our last cat around Thanksgiving and I’ve vowed not to get another one. I have no patience for kitten antics, and I’m afraid if I adopt an adult cat and move it to our house, I’ll end up with the same move-induced behavior problems I had with our old cat.
So what’s a gardener to do?
I hit the internet and researched the issue. I purchased a bottle of eco-friendly animal repellent and sprinkled it around the twelve new verbenas I planted to replace the fan flowers (they were cheaper) and the new basil plant, which has a cut-down milk jug around it for protection. The next morning, the verbenas showed signs of nibbling. I researched some more and purchased a large plastic owl, which I placed right in the middle of the verbenas. The owl is a natural predator and a plastic one is supposed to scare away rodents. The next morning the verbenas were chewed even more. Apparently I have very brave rabbits.
That afternoon I returned the eco-friendly repellent and plastic owl to the store and demanded a refund. I researched some more and pulled out my cauldron to concoct a homemade repellent of onions, garlic and cayenne pepper. I sprayed the verbenas heavily and waited.
Next morning, the verbena plants were level with the ground. The rabbits are not only brave, but they like their food heavily seasoned.
I escalated the conflict and visited the feed store Monday morning to purchase two rabbit traps. I figure we’ll trap them and relocate them waaaay out in the country. I know we have at least three rabbits because I’ve seen a baby. That means we must have a mama and a daddy too.
I baited the traps on Monday with carrots, broccoli and banana, and I set them in areas where I’ve seen the rabbit hanging out. Yesterday morning one trap’s bait had been nibbled upon, but the trap hadn’t sprung. The DH told me he'd seen the rascals frolicking around the trap, "doing what rabbits do." What gall!
Not only did they not spring the trap, they're copulating in public and conspiring to increase their numbers. I added apple slices to each trap and as I write this I’m still waiting for the wascally critters to get hungry for those juicy Granny Smiths and wander into the traps. Late yesterday afternoon I watched one hop close to one of the traps, nibble at the birdseed I'd sprinkled near the entrance, then turn and stare at me as I played voyeur with my binoculars. I sure hope my neighbors didn't think I was watching her give him a haircut on their back porch.
On the up side, one of my birdhouses has five house swallow eggs in it. The other birdhouse has already been home to a brood of baby bluebirds. The killdeer are back and I discovered a nest with four eggs Monday afternoon. My birdfeeders are a social gathering spot for the neighborhood birds. The redheaded woodpecker that nests in the trees at the end of the street visits my feeders daily. The hanging birdbath outside my kitchen window is a favorite with the house finches.
I’m encouraging animal repopulation on the one hand, and contemplating a gun purchase on the other. If the traps don’t work, I don’t know what I’ll do because rabbits breed like well… rabbits. And we could be overrun by cottontails if something isn’t done.
So to date I’ve lost sixteen plants – three fan flowers, twelve verbenas and a sweet basil.
Any suggestions? Trapping tips? Want a bunny?