Ilex vs. Rabbits

Although I probably like all animals more than most people. .. Rabbits aren’t exactly near the top 10 of favorites. Well, I’ve not tasted one yet… Ha!
Seven years ago when I moved into this house and planted my first veggie garden, there were no rabbits. The next year they came in droves after hearing that “Ilex’s Rabbit Food Buffet” was open for business. My 13 year old akita wasn’t much of a watch dog anymore. The next year, they were gone. I suspect our birds of prey were well fed as I found many rabbit tid-bits around the yard. A larger animal would take the whole body away.
I had almost 4 years of bliss until this year. My spinach, lettuce and carrots were decimated. It got too late in the season to plant more carrots, but at least I can plant more spinach and lettuce this fall.
Here’s the funny part, I’ve got border collies that roam this yard from back to front. They’ve never seen them. I’m surprised rabbits have the cahonies to come into our yard.
Rabbits don’t just eat veggies. They love tree bark, especially poplar, willow, apple and pine. They will also nibble on saplings of maple and ash. Most of this damage goes on during the winter and many people say the damage is too high to be a rabbit. Well, how many inches of snow were on the ground? Ah ha!
The damage that rabbits cause is dramatic, as it can kill a tree in less than a year. You’re tree could look great in the fall and then never leaf out the next spring! Why?
If you think of a tree as having blood vessels, the only place they are located are just under the bark. So all you need to do to “sever the jugular” so to speak, is to cut into the bark all the way around the trunk about 1/2 an inch in. It’s called ‘girdling’ a tree. It has its uses in restoration when you don’t have the time or manpower to fell a tree. Fell = cut down.

Rabbit Deterrents:

  • These trees have chicken fencing around them, but it’s right against the bark. It needs to be away (1 foot) from the trunk and at least 6 inches underground, as best as possible.
  • There are commercial repellants to use, but need to be reapplied often & don’t generally work according to the experts.
  • Spread blood meal, cayenne pepper, manure or dog or human hair around plants.
  • Spray plants with a solution of hot pepper sauce and water or vinegar. Reapply the solution after each rain. This solution can be rinsed off of vegetables after harvest and will not affect the taste.
  • Use a foul-tasting spray deterrent that contains bitrex. Do not use bitrex sprays on vegetable plants because it will affect the taste of the produce.
  • The last solution is a fine rabbit stew. Mmm.

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If the damage is caught the day it happened, you may be able to repair the damage via a ‘Bridge graft’, but it’s not a job for laymen…

Thanks for visiting & keep on planting!

5 thoughts on “Ilex vs. Rabbits

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