Gardening has become secondary to rabbit proofing in the last month. In my last post I mentioned that the Jerusalem artichokes were thankfully too tall and too well established for the rabbits to eat. Oh, how I was wrong.
From two rows like this:
We weren’t really in a position to complain as L has lost 21 lettuces, her sedum, spring onions, pak choi, parsnips, pattypans, runner beans and 12 brassicas. P has also lost a lot of her crops including most of her flowerbed stock. This is after rabbit proofing with nets and chicken-wire. L’s and P’s plots are not compacted clay like ours and so the rabbits are also able to burrow in.
We set a camera on our plot to see whether we could find out where the rabbits are getting in. The battery lasts less than two hours so it’s taken nearly a month to capture anything other than a passing bird. We couldn’t tell from the footage where the rabbit snuck in, only that it was at the rear of the plot.
To get a better idea of what we’re dealing with we decided to camp out overnight. It was mainly just an excuse to camp, but we thought it might provide us with valuable information – and it did. Rob saw a rabbit jump a fence in a neighbouring plot and our fencing in some areas was of a similar height. We’d definitely need to raise our defences. We also discovered that there’s some early birds on the allotments. The following morning I spotted my first human before 6am.
Camping was lovely. It allowed us to garden well into the night, and Rob built us a bivvy with pallets and tarpaulin.
This year even my birthday was allotment themed. I appreciated Shelley’s humour – she bought a new addition for our gate:
And thanks to Kat I’m the proud owner of a soil pH meter. My boss bought me two lupins (Tequila Flame and King Canute) which the rabbits love, another friend bought me a delphinium Excalibur, a courgette and some spinach seedlings. The many vouchers I received went towards extra fencing. I have truly been lucky with gifts – and assistance, as both sets of parents came to help us on the plot.
Rob and the dads concentrated on clearing weed from the neighbouring plots and rabbit proofing, whilst the mums sowed seeds and potted seedlings.
We’ve now added chicken-wire around all the beds as a secondary defence against rabbit invasion, and Rob has glazed the lower half of the greenhouse allowing us to store plants safely. I haven’t dared sow the salad beds yet as I’m scared it will be hardest hit if the rabbits get in, but I’ve planted out pumpkins and decorative gourds (2 x pumpkin Howden, and 4 x Cucurbita pepo). P has loaned me some net tunnels to cover them for extra rabbit protection.
Alongside all of this planting, the mammoth task of fencing continued:
Our progress has generally been measured by rabbit attacks. To start with we left spinach as bait to see whether they would take it. They did.
And then we tested out a sonic rabbit scarer positioned to protect a box of swede seedlings.
The bait before:
The bait after:
I sense the rabbits are mocking us.
I finally finished fencing three days ago, and planted out some sacrificial nasturtiums beside the lupins. They survived the first night and there was no extra damage to the lupins. This filled me with hope. Have we done it? Have we secured the site? I cleared the old wild garlic bed, finding five bulbs that had survived the rabbit onslaught. I replanted them alongside mint (potted to restrict growth) and more nasturtiums. I don’t want to tempt fate but as I write this they show no recent signs of bunny damage:
It’s too early to say for certain whether we have succeeded, but for now we’re keeping all our garden implements crossed and hoping for the best.