Buggs is back - and I'm not happy! Just in case you don't remember who Buggs is, he's a neighborhood cottontail that's been featured in this column from time to time.
Unfortunately, Buggs has made his home on my neighbor's property, but likes to munch on the smorgasboard of plants on my property - destroying specimens in the process.
Rabbits Are Creatures
Buggs is persistent, too, and continually returns to the same feeding places, even when the plants that Buggs has a taste for aren't in leaf or bloom.
So how do I know that Buggs is back? Telltale tracks and droppings on the snow show where Buggs has been and where he lives.
Buggs lives, incidentally, beneath my neighbor's shed. The area is too small for neighborhood cats to enter, yet it's large enough for Buggs to come and go with ease.
Realizing that Buggs is in our neighborhood, however, and knowing where Buggs goes during his nocturnal foraging expeditions, helps me to discourage Buggs from damaging my garden. How?
Rabbit-Proofing The Garden
Lately, I've been adding plants to the garden that I know Buggs won't nibble. Plants such as daffodils and species tulips, for instance.
In addition to growing rabbit-resistant plants, I foil Buggs by protecting susceptible plants: when they sprout, when they're transplanted, and when they're about to bloom.
Buggs, you see, is especially fond of tender new growth as well as flowers and flower buds.
Even so, Buggs isn't able to nibble the tender tops of plants that are higher than 18 inches, and Buggs can't overcome obstacles more than two feet tall. He won't eat what he can't see or smell either.
To cover vulnerable plants, I use store-bought row covers (covers made from a lightweight, spun fabric), as well as home-made cloches created by removing the bottoms from five-gallon plastic water bottles.
I also use chicken wire and old window screens to shield sprouting plants.
Additionally, I've made an upright portable fence by connecting four window screens into the shape of a rectangle. I use the fence to protect individual plants.
Covers and fences work better and last longer than chemical repellents, because repellents must be reapplied following wet weather. Covers and fences also work better than scarecrows because Buggs eventually becomes accustomed to scarecrows.
While searching for new ideas on how to thwart Buggs, I recently consulted a 100-year-old book. The book recommended using a cat or dog to deter rabbits. In lieu if this, the book also suggested making scarecrows by tying old rags onto sticks and then placing the scarecrows in strategic areas throughout the garden.
I'd have to use old jockey shorts for rags. That would scare Buggs. But wouldn't it scare the neighbors too?
This Week In The Garden
Although I didn't know it at the time, a newly-purchased house plant was infested with insect eggs that hatched within a week of my purchase.
Since I quarantine new plants anyway by placing them in a clear plastic bag for two weeks, it wasn't a problem.