Preparing for the Bunny Uprising, and Other News from the Plot

Rabbit proofing is a never-ending battle, and one that we’re trying to keep up with as the rabbits outsmart us at every turn, but, and I mean-B-U-T- (that’s a tentative, and yet a big ‘but’), we think we’ve stopped them for the moment. We haven’t had an incursion for a few weeks. I know this because the ramson patch they devastated last year has made it into bud this year:

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We thought they’d wiped the patch out completely so it’s wonderful to see that a few survived. Both varieties of asparagus, Mondeo and Ariane, are showing signs of life and haven’t been nibbled either:

But we don’t want to get complacent, so we’re continuing to fortify the plot. We’ve raised the height of the fence (again). This time we’ve used scaffold netting. I really don’t think they can jump it, and whilst the bright green is a bit glaring it’s impossible to miss, so we’re hoping that the rabbits see a barrier and decide to look elsewhere for food.

The downside of the netting is that it looks like we’ve wrapped the plot in a shroud and it feels quite enclosing. In a bid to make it feel a little less claustrophobic, I made the executive decision to leave the front of the plot un-netted. My solution:

Homemade chain link fencing created by wrapping vertical wire around the horizontal wire that was already in place.  The added bonus of this fencing is in the event of the peony flowering, we’ll be able to see it on the approach to the plot – a dusky pink against the deep grey of the shed. Dreams are made of such things.

DSCN7808Speaking of the peony, I’m a little worried about it. I read somewhere that root stock should have a few buds prior to planting, but mine only had one – and the root was in two pieces. The box I received it in wasn’t damaged so I presume it was packaged that way. I planted them both together and I don’t recall whether there was buds on the smaller piece. Maybe I should have messaged the Sarah Raven site for advice, but I didn’t and so will have to wait and see how it grows.

We’ve completed a number of other little jobs over the last week. Yesterday we had the help of Mum and Dad L.

Dad assisted Rob with polythene preparations for the greenhouse (it looks like we may have a roof in the near future), and Mum repotted the sweet peas to keep them happy until it’s time for them to be planted out.

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We discovered a slug and snail in the cold frame (and some sweet peas have been eaten) so I’ve deployed the first beer trap of the season. The seed trays on the right contain honesty that I sowed a couple of weeks ago, but the packet instructions weren’t clear so I’m keeping my fingers crossed they’ll germinate.

I still need to move a few plants around in the flower bed beside the gate: the woodruff needs to go under the hazel so it can have a little shade should we get a summer this year, and the little sedums need to go to the front of the border – they’re so tiny I don’t even think you can see them in the photos below). I made a start weeding the bed though, and I made a little token willow-weaved border just to demarcate the range of the bed.

L says she has a few plants for me from her garden at home that should make the bed feel a little less sparse. L is also a bad influence. Thanks to her I now own rhubarb – one crown planted in an old brewery malt sack, and another tiny piece in a plant pot to see whether it grows – and she also gave me some stems of clematis to propagate. We’ve no idea the variety of either so we call them both ‘Contraband’ as L has ways and means of obtaining things you just happen to mention in passing that you like. The clematis has the most beautiful leaves that fall from green into red at the edges.

Seed sowing is well underway at home. We’ve officially run out of space to keep all the pots and trays, and have even resorted to leaving pots under the dreaded west facing window. 

The last batch of seeds sown included pumpkin Polar Bear F1, squashes Honey Bear F1, Turks Turban, Uchiki Kuri,Vegetable Spaghetti, courgette Black Beauty, and sunflowers Helianthus Red.

I had a little accident with our Sweet Million F1 tomato seedlings. A few days ago it was lovely and sunny and warm. It finally felt like spring and I thought all our seedings would benefit from sitting on the boat roof for a few hours in the sunshine. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? It does most things the world of good, and they’ve been cooped up all this time on a sideboard that doesn’t get a lot of light. Well…

 

I think they have sun stroke. At least four seedlings look to be at death’s door, and one has already given up.

Lessoned learned.

In other lessons learned, I’m reading Joes Allotment: Planning and Planting a Productive Plot by Joe Swift, and learning the error of our composting ways. I think our pallet compost bay is far too open, and Joe suggests lining them with cardboard to retain the heat and to add an extra material layer to decompose.  So, I’ve made a start doing this to our heap and have also turned and weeded the bay (nettles sneak in everywhere).

I thought I’d try growing nasturtiums up the outsides of the pallets this year. I suspect they’ll self seed into the compost though!


5 thoughts on “Preparing for the Bunny Uprising, and Other News from the Plot

  1. Poor little tomatoes. I’m so behind with my indoor sowing, but surprisingly not worried about it. I’m told that the trick to bunny proofing is to put wire fencing into the ground about a foot down, apparently it discourages them but it sounds like a lot of work and money! I hope the netting works and the plants survive!

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    1. The previous plot holders did that with the fence so saved us that hard work and money – and for that we’re grateful. The rabbits developed new tactics and bite through, jump and climb the fences instead. Cheeky (yet canny) bunnies.

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  2. Hello! Good to have discovered your blog. I too have a massive rabbit problem They’re bigger than ever this year. Yesterday I tried barking at one – and it just looked at me. They must think I’m running a wildlife sanctuary not trying to grow veg. Look forward to hearing if your fence works – it seems like a big job. I just keep covering crops with anything I can find – not the prettiest solution.

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    1. Hello! Ah yes, the rabbits are pretty mutant this year – and they get cleverer every year too. I confess I’ve done my fair share of shouting at them. We tried protecting individual beds last year but it was very hit and miss – it’s like the rabbits know they’re too close to the prize to give up. We thought we’d address the plot perimeter this time around. So far *touches wood* they haven’t broken through the defenses. It seems height, depth and visual barriers combined might work (I daren’t commit to saying that because if I do I’ll go to the plot tomorrow and find all my asparagus eaten!). Just don’t ever say “bunny” three times whilst staring at your reflection in the water butt because all rabbit hell is likely to be summoned…

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