Rodents in the Garden

In the past few years that we’ve lived in our current home, Andrew and I have watched rabbits and a groundhog alternate residence under our shed in the backyard. Although we didn’t like it, we weren’t particularly motivated to do anything about it while the damage remained limited to a few small holes under our fence.

And we lived peacefully ever after. (Ha! I wish that were how this post ends!)

This year, we put a lot of work into expanding our in-ground kitchen garden plots and to start, the rabbits were only interested in nibbling on our soybean plants. It was annoying and frustrating to watch the soybean plants try so hard every day to regrow what it had lost the evening before but at least it was limited to just those plants.

Putting forth minimal effort, we put flowering marigolds at the edges of the pots and scattered pieces of onion around the soybean plants hoping the smells would offend the rabbits’ delicate, twitchy noses.

Fail. Not only did the rabbits continue to eat the soybean plants, but the next morning, nearly all of the bush beans, jalapeno peppers, and some of our marigolds were eaten up too! Our once promising bush bean harvest was demolished to all but two lonely beans. Clearly, minimal effort was not going to get us anywhere.

Building a Rabbit-Proof Fence

A few weeks ago, we went to our hardware store and purchased some chicken wire and 2x2x8 lumber. Pushing through the heat and the humidity of the day, we first sawed points at the base of each piece of lumber and dug a 6-inch trench around the garden plot with the soybeans. We then started hammering each wooden post into the ground, and of course, the head of our sledgehammer broke off on the first post so we adjusted by having one of us just hold the post and hope that the chicken wire and 6 inches of dirt would be enough to keep the posts stable. (Luckily, it was).

It was an absolute pain trying to manipulate the base of the chicken wire to curl down and away from the plot while having the whole thing bend around a corner but after hours of teamwork, we finally got the fence together!

As of now, we still have only fenced in one of our two garden plots but since I now know that soybeans are like candy to rabbits, it seemed like the most important one.

Making the Shed an Unappealing Rabbit Home

There were two holes in the wood at the base of the shed on the side towards the garden that allowed the rabbits a quick and easy route between the garden and under the shed. So we replaced this chewed up wood with a new 2×4 to make it less convenient and we put a bag of rocks in front of the other holes the rabbits had dug in the dirt around back to get under the shed.

In addition to covering up the holes, I scattered waste from our cat’s litter box around the perimeter of the shed. The goal here was to signal to the rabbits that predators may be nearby and the shed is no longer a safe place.

The Result (So Far)

This battle has ended but the war will be on-going. All of the plants have been recovering well including the jalapeno pepper plants that are outside the fenced in area. The soybeans even started flowering and producing beans! We know the rabbits are still out there because a fresh hole was dug under the shed (which we promptly filled back in) and most recently we’ve seen nibble damage on another one of our marigolds. Hopefully, putting up a fence around that exposed garden plot will put an end to that!

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