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Posts Tagged ‘rabbit’

Plastic Mesh Fencing? NOT For Kitchen Gardens!

Looking through the plastic mesh fencing at my garden annex, you can see bush bean and chili pepper plants scattered throughout a robust weedscape. Squint, and you might make out the fencing that stretches along all sides of the planting bed.

I recently reported how I repaired the fence that protects my small kitchen garden. This year, I used plastic mesh fencing that I bought in the garden department of a large discount store. The material came in a 50 foot roll clearly marked as fencing for vegetable gardens.

I repaired, perhaps, three fence panels with plastic mesh, using no more than nine feet from the roll. I stretched the remaining 41 feet of plastic around my garden annex—a small planting bed I added last year where my kids’ sandbox used to be.

My Vulnerable Small Kitchen Garden

The plastic mesh “fence” was three feet tall, and it sat flush with the ground around the entire planting bed. Everything inside looked secure. The photos tell the rest of the story, the unavoidable conclusions of which are:

The day after my son mowed the lawn, I discovered a hole in the plastic mesh that surrounded my garden annex. I guessed my son had run the mower against the fence, and I covered the hole by leaning a board against the mesh. Later, I found two more holes in the mesh… one of them against the rhubarb patch. Clearly my son hadn’t mowed through the rhubarb patch to reach the garden fence; there must have been some other force at work here.

1. If you want to keep critters out of your garden, don’t use plastic mesh fencing as your garden fence.

2. Though metal fencing (such as chicken wire) may be three times the cost of plastic mesh, you will spend more money on the plastic stuff. Some of my chicken wire fences have survived 15 years, while the plastic gave out in a matter of weeks.

3. The manufacturer of plastic mesh fencing and the retailers who sell it as fencing should be ashamed. The stuff is useless as fencing; it can’t protect against exactly the things you’d expect a fence to keep out of your small kitchen garden.

When I examined the damaged fence closely, I noticed a tuft of hair and some flattened grass. Probing with a stick revealed a hole in the garden soil lined with rabbit hair and weeds; a rabbit had eaten through my fence in several places and built a little nursery in my garden annex! Fortunately, I’d intervened before rabbit puppies appeared; my activity in the garden annex discouraged the rabbit from returning.

I don’t know whether it’s the fence-damaging culprit, but this rabbit hangs around my yard quite a bit. When I muse about what a rabbit needs to do, I realize that it has plenty of time to sit next to a plastic mesh fence and systematically chew large holes through it. Plastic mesh fencing is a really bad idea.


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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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