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Defending my garden from rabbits--anyway to repel/repulse the bunnies

 
pollinator
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Hello,

Last year I grew a wonderful crop of tomatoes and sweet potatoes--all for deer and rabbits!  The deer damage was obvious.  The sweet potatoes kept getting their vines munched back to the main root.  At first I suspected it was the deer eating the sweet potatoes.  I eventually covered the sweet potatoes with a chicken wire dome, but they still got eaten.  I think this indicates rabbits (we have plenty in the area).  

Does anyone have any suggestions for deterring either pest?  Due to the location (these are individual raised beds) fencing will be difficult.  I have heard that bars of soap will deter deer--I can give that a try.  But I just don't know what to do about the rabbits.

Any advise is welcome,

Eric
 
steward
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Mine got eaten by the voles.  They were pretty obvious though with 1" circular tunnels around and through the sweet potatoes.  I'd think that if the chicken wire dome came down to the ground snugly it would keep the rabbits out...
 
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Start shooting them. No fence or dog has ever protected my stuff from rabbits. I have 2 foot high tree collars and they still manage to nibble my trees. Get some high roosts/nesting places for raptors and start shooting.
 
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elle sagenev wrote:Start shooting them. No fence or dog has ever protected my stuff from rabbits. I have 2 foot high tree collars and they still manage to nibble my trees. Get some high roosts/nesting places for raptors and start shooting.



Elle, you need a different dog :)  I'm not against shooting them, but few people will be able to watch enough hours in the day to protect their garden.  
 
pioneer
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Very timely discussion for me - seems like I will finally be moving up to WI in the Spring - planning "starter" garden on our new place, which has been uninhabited for 3 years . When I visited in mid-October, the voles had already girdled EVERY new (May/2018) fruit tree because my house-building son hadn't been able to keep weeds away, and his roaming German shepherd was lessening their natural predation. When I replace those trees, I'm using 1/4" hardware cloth for individual barriers on each tree. But I'm having nightmares about the potential vole damage to my garden. They were practically running over my feet when I was in the orchard! I've heard that the little b....stards will actually pull carrots, etc down into tunnels to eat! Gardening work is already going to be hard enough for 67-year-old me - DO NOT want to share.
The rabbit/woodchuck/deer fence will be created sometime later in the Summer, and the dog might be help, but it seems that these tiny critters are problems above and below ground. We can't build the permanent fence with  hardware-cloth down into the ground until we are done with the tractor in there. Even so, we'll still have a gate area, and they can get in no matter how tight we can make the clearance.
I'm planning raised/lasagna-type beds on our heavy clay soil. Though the beds will likely be permanent, they will not have permanent structure this year.
Sooo, what is my permanent plan? Will it help to keep my paths clear - do I need to insert hardware-cloth along my bed edges - do I need to get a Terrier or barn cats or let my chooks in there regularly???
I DO realize that a multi-faceted approach is best, and I'm looking forward to hearing all your experiences/suggestions - especially for the northern Midwest, zone 4. TYVM, and best regards to all for productive 2019!

 
Trace Oswald
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Mary Beth Alexander wrote:Very timely discussion for me - seems like I will finally be moving up to WI in the Spring - planning "starter" garden on our new place, which has been uninhabited for 3 years . When I visited in mid-October, the voles had already girdled EVERY new (May/2018) fruit tree because my house-building son hadn't been able to keep weeds away, and his roaming German shepherd was lessening their natural predation. When I replace those trees, I'm using 1/4" hardware cloth for individual barriers on each tree. But I'm having nightmares about the potential vole damage to my garden. They were practically running over my feet when I was in the orchard! I've heard that the little b....stards will actually pull carrots, etc down into tunnels to eat! Gardening work is already going to be hard enough for 67-year-old me - DO NOT want to share.
The rabbit/woodchuck/deer fence will be created sometime later in the Summer, and the dog might be help, but it seems that these tiny critters are problems above and below ground. We can't build the permanent fence with  hardware-cloth down into the ground until we are done with the tractor in there. Even so, we'll still have a gate area, and they can get in no matter how tight we can make the clearance.
I'm planning raised/lasagna-type beds on our heavy clay soil. Though the beds will likely be permanent, they will not have permanent structure this year.
Sooo, what is my permanent plan? Will it help to keep my paths clear - do I need to insert hardware-cloth along my bed edges - do I need to get a Terrier or barn cats or let my chooks in there regularly???
I DO realize that a multi-faceted approach is best, and I'm looking forward to hearing all your experiences/suggestions - especially for the northern Midwest, zone 4. TYVM, and best regards to all for productive 2019!



You may want to consider putting in some raised beds with hardware cloth bottoms for voles.
 
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I used to have big problems with rabbits eating my food while it was still growing, until put up some net style electric fence. My results were immediate and I did not see nor find evidence of another rabbit in my garden after that.
 
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James Freyr wrote:I used to have big problems with rabbits eating my food while it was still growing, until put up some net style electric fence. My results were immediate and I did not see nor find evidence of another rabbit in my garden after that.



Ditto on the electric fence.  Mine is a Gallagher solar unit and has 3 wires very close to the ground and easily stepped over by a human.  It successfully keeps out rabbits, armadillos, raccoons and hogs.  I always thought I would extend it to 5' in height if deer became a problem but the roaming GSD keeps them at bay apparently. It encloses about an acre of garden and orchard.

This would not work for voles obviously.
 
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I had potatoes and sweet potatoes growing.
Bunnies ate the potato greens to the ground but only tasted the sweet potatoe vine.
I hoped the vines were unappetizing to bunnies , maybe not. I had thought to look into eating sweet potato leaves and read that potatoe leaves aren't good.

My bunnies are so hungry that they eat prickly pear cactus pads.

This year everthing is protected by chicken wire.
Leporines.jpg
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Chicken wire fence and a .22 rifle.
Rabbit stew is yummy.
 
elle sagenev
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Trace Oswald wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:Start shooting them. No fence or dog has ever protected my stuff from rabbits. I have 2 foot high tree collars and they still manage to nibble my trees. Get some high roosts/nesting places for raptors and start shooting.



Elle, you need a different dog :)  I'm not against shooting them, but few people will be able to watch enough hours in the day to protect their garden.  



I have 3 dogs and when they're in the house the rabbits can be seen invading the yard. Not even a dog can watch 24/7
 
Eric Hanson
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Elle,

And to add to your story a bit, nothing--NOTHING--is afraid of my dog.  She is a sweetheart of a pet, but intimidation is not her forte.  She warmly greats any car that comes down our road.

Eric
 
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We use a solution of tabasco sauce in vinegar applied with a sprayer to control our Flemish Giant's nibbling inside. You'd need to reapply after every rain event, but it works.

Oh, and don't be downwind when you're spraying. You'll regret it.

-CK
 
Trace Oswald
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elle sagenev wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:Start shooting them. No fence or dog has ever protected my stuff from rabbits. I have 2 foot high tree collars and they still manage to nibble my trees. Get some high roosts/nesting places for raptors and start shooting.



Elle, you need a different dog :)  I'm not against shooting them, but few people will be able to watch enough hours in the day to protect their garden.  



I have 3 dogs and when they're in the house the rabbits can be seen invading the yard. Not even a dog can watch 24/7



Agreed, if your dogs are inside, they aren't going to deter anything.  That is the same problem with the idea of just shooting them.  Who can sit there watching for them 24 hours a day?  The only reliable 24/7 options I know of are dogs that live outside and can patrol that area all the time, or good fences.
 
elle sagenev
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Trace Oswald wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:Start shooting them. No fence or dog has ever protected my stuff from rabbits. I have 2 foot high tree collars and they still manage to nibble my trees. Get some high roosts/nesting places for raptors and start shooting.



Elle, you need a different dog :)  I'm not against shooting them, but few people will be able to watch enough hours in the day to protect their garden.  



I have 3 dogs and when they're in the house the rabbits can be seen invading the yard. Not even a dog can watch 24/7



Agreed, if your dogs are inside, they aren't going to deter anything.  That is the same problem with the idea of just shooting them.  Who can sit there watching for them 24 hours a day?  The only reliable 24/7 options I know of are dogs that live outside and can patrol that area all the time, or good fences.



So you see no point in reducing the rabbit population with a gun? Maybe it doesn't make a difference but it makes me feel better when we shoot one.
 
Trace Oswald
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Rabbit control, English Mastiff style.
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