Victory (for now)

Every gardener has his/her nemesis. Mine is rabbits. But today I can declare at least a partial victory. I harvested a carrot!

When I started the garden in 2004, there was no initial problem. I guess the rabbits just hadn’t discovered the new organic supermarket in the neighborhood yet. But then, year after year, they became more voracious. On top of it, I learned that rabbits go through seasonal taste changes – a vegetable that they leave alone one year is the first to be wiped out the next year. Slipping through the fence, the rabbits devoured basil, beet greens, carrot leaves (nibbled to the ground), blooming French filet beans, lettuce, radish leaves (it is a mystery to me how they can find those hairy, tough leaves tasty), spinach, pea seedlings, and Swiss chard. Tomatoes and eggplants, usually not rabbit fare, weren’t safe from them neither. They just bit off the tiny plants and spit them out.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to fight the rabbits with one ineffective remedy after another: hot pepper flakes, anti-rabbit spray with a nauseating smell, granulated fox urine, pieces of garden hose that were supposed to look like snakes, mint sprigs, cotton balls soaked in vinegar and tossed all over the garden, ammonia-soaked rugs hung over the fence, dangling CDs, flashing bike lights at night, dog hair, plastic cups filled with moth balls that had to carefully drained far from the garden after every rain…

After nothing worked, it was either putting up another fence, or giving up the garden. Last spring we reached deep into our pockets and put up a second fence of sturdy hard-wire cloth. Over several weeks my beloved undertook the backbreaking task of digging a trench around the entire garden and packing it with 2B modified gravel. But it still wasn’t enough to keep the rabbits out – they simply jumped over the new fence through the old fence and wrecked havoc. So we reached even deeper into our pockets and doubled the height of the fence. Finally it worked! We named it “Berlin Wall No. 2”. Except for the occasional toad I have spotted no living being without wings in the garden ever since.

Lately I noticed that something is devouring the new stems of the Charantais French breakfast melon, which is growing on trellises outside the fenced-in area.  I console myself with the thought that in a few weeks, I would have to prune out the abundant growth anyway so the rabbits are doing the job for me. What the rabbits don’t know: next year, I will plant everything behind the Iron Curtain.

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