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Mid-Summer Rabbits in my Small Kitchen Garden

Your Small Kitchen Garden catches up with a series of posts about what went on in the garden this season while the kitchen gardener (Daniel) was busy writing his book Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry it, Too.

In July, rabbits demonstrated that I’d done a poor job of patching the rodent fence… a project motivated by activities of a large woodchuck (but that’s a story for another day).

I spent much of this growing season writing a book rather than writing Your Small Kitchen Garden blog. My kitchen garden, however, demanded plenty of attention, and I took many photos intending to blog about the subjects they recorded. One of the most unexpected incidents I photographed involved rabbits.

The Small Kitchen Garden Rabbit Haven

My garden’s rabbit fence provides great protection against rabbit predators… at least that’s what the rabbits seem to think. Historically, rabbits have moved into my planting bed in early spring before I’ve started working the soil. This year, they didn’t move in until July. The rabbit fence had been in place for months, I’d already removed the spent pea plants, and the winter squash was beginning the growth spurt that comes two or three weeks after transplanted seedlings adjust to their new setting in the garden.

My first clue that rabbits had landed was their in-my-face prancing among the vegetable plants. Honestly: I saw no sign that the rabbits ate my plants or my vegetables… only that they liked to hang out inside the fence. Of course, by being there they revealed my rabbit fence had holes in it. So, I chased the rabbits away, and patched the holes… poorly.

Bunnies in the Garden, Of Course

The bunny rabbits that hatched in July were adorable. Sadly, watering the winter squash scared them out of the nest when they simply weren’t ready to leave. I fence my small kitchen garden to protect my plants from woodchucks, and to protect rabbits from my gardening. I must do a better job next season; I hate when my gardening becomes a problem for these entertaining and innocent animals.

July and August were particularly dry in my small kitchen garden, so I hand-watered my winter squashes occasionally to keep them alive. When I watered one morning, I noticed unusual movement under the canopy of squash leaves: bunnies scampered about, apparently scared from a nest by my watering.

My first reaction: “What the…?” I had to acknowledge that my fence-mending skills are not pro-caliber. My next reaction: These bunnies were not ready to leave the nest. I shot a few photos, herded the babies back toward the squash canopy, and left the garden alone with hope that Mom Rabbit would return quickly and coral her babies.

Sadly, by the next morning, one bunny had died under the squash leaves. I suspect it Mom never found it, and it never found its way home. Apparently, as rabbit moms will do, this one carried her remaining bunnies out of the garden and found a new home for them. There has been no further rabbit activity inside the fence… or course, I made further repairs once I knew the rabbits had moved out.

The Rabbit Fence Project

As the growing season dwindles, I’m looking ahead to projects I must complete before spring. I guess it’s obvious what one of those projects will be. Are you building fences around your planting beds? How were the rodents in your small kitchen garden this year?



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3 Responses to “Mid-Summer Rabbits in my Small Kitchen Garden”

  • Michelle B:

    Our small kitchen garden is in a city and are not bothered by rodents in general. It does host a good number of hedgehogs which we and our neighbors encourage as the hedgehogs eat their weight in insects and slugs. In fact, we deliberately make holes in our fences so they can traverse easily all of our gardens as they need a large area to accommodate their nutrition needs.

    Hedgehogs nest in compost piles in June, and I almost fork a pile of babies to death. Therefore in June, I don’t disturb the large slow pile at all and just turn the smaller hot pile.

  • admin:

    Michelle B: That’s totally awesome and points up something I love about blogging: I get to learn about stuff we simply never see in my neighborhood. I’d think by now enough of them would have escaped into the wild to give rise to a burgeoning population, but since they aren’t native to the United States, I’ve never seen a hedgehog outside of a zoo. Based on your comments, I’d invite them into my garden if they were knocking on the fence.

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