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Rascally rabbits

March 18, 2010
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

Spring is starting to unfold in front of us while the continual fog seems to overlap itself as these days have gone past. I have begun my annual walk about the farm to see what is happening and the signs of spring are starting to show themselves in small, numerous ways.

Through the fog, I can now hear the occasional sound of a Canadian goose honking. It always sounds like it is just one single lone goose. However, this lonely sound will eventually change when the great flocks start to come over the farm, mixing with each other: geese of every shape, size and color. The sound at times can almost be deafening. I have noticed small changes in the maples and other larger trees in our yard.

While it was a valiant attempt on my part and my oldest to see what rabbit damage has occurred on the apple trees in our yard, the wet snow kept us from getting close enough to each tree to be able to really see what was happening. The snow had been piled so high up on the dwarf apple trees, the rabbits were able to prune with some precision the top eighth of the branches that remained sticking out of the snow bank.

Gardeners have had rabbit control problems this winter with the deep snow that has piled up and around many of our plants. The shrubs have been kept out of sight for most of the winter until now. So what can we do about these little fuzzy eating machines?

I recently began polling (non-formal method) gardeners about what they do to keep the rabbits from eating everything in sight. We do have some really good suggestions that you can use now, if you have a problem with them eating certain plants or later when the snow has finally melted away. There are two products that came up again and again. The first is called Plantskydd. It is made of a natural chemical and comes from Sweden originally. You spray this around the perimeter of your yard and/or on the plants that you know tend to be tasty to rabbits (or deer) and the smell/taste combination will have them running out of the yard. Please note that you will smell this product for about a day and then you will not smell it after that. It is also labeled for opossum elk and moose (just in case you have a stray moose running around your yard). Liquid fence is the second product that you spray around the perimeter of your property or around the plants that deer and rabbits find so tasty. The Plantskydd does not have to be reapplied after snow/rain while Liquid fence does.

A few other ideas were using the contents of your vacuum cleaner bag, sprinkled around the plants you want the rabbits to leave alone. The smell of human is enough to keep them away. This would need to be applied every couple of weeks.

During the summer months, others have tried using a scarecrow and even motion detector sprinklers. The sprinkler system was also used by people who had cats using their gardens as a litter box.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at



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