Just when you think you have it all figured out, Mother Nature throws something new into the game. I was expecting a great harvest from the garden this year. We had it all figured out -- weeding, watering, and more! I started several flats of seeds from January through March using my seed-starting heater and grow lights in the basement. I watered them with vermicompost tea, making them grow big and strong, rather than tall and spindly. Everything was going great!
Everything was going great until I actually started transplanting into the garden. That's when the latest, most annoying gardening varmint decided to show us that we really don't have it all figured out. In eight years out here and 12 years gardening in the burbs, we have never had a problem with rabbits, and we did not even put up a fence the first two or three years out here. As you know, Mike spent a couple days digging up the perimeter of the garden to bury chicken wire last month, because a welded wire fence wasn't good enough to keep the rabbits out of the garden.
In addition to our efforts, Sam the barn cat tried to help. The day after Mike had the fence reinforced, Sam caught a rabbit one evening as I was feeding baby goats. The next day, Katherine told me she found a rabbit's head near the barn.
Last week, I thought we had finally triumphed over the little rodents. Then three nights ago, I left the gate open overnight. The next morning, I witnessed death and destruction. Apparently rabbits are not thrilled with celery or parsley, but they have to rip off a leaf or stalk from each plant to be sure. They don't really like tomatillos either, but they have to rip them out of the ground to check them out. They do, however, love marigolds and statice. There was no trace of the red marigolds at all, but the white marigolds were all ripped up and laying on the dirt. I could just see the little rodents thumbing their wriggly little noses at me.
I called Porter into the garden and walked around the perimeter with him. We walked near all the tall weeds and grasses, just in case a rabbit was hiding in there. Obviously, I didn't want to lock rabbits in the garden overnight.
But I'm afraid that is exactly what happened. Yesterday I discovered that more than half of the pepper plants were eaten down to the ground, including most of the heirlooms. A jalapeno plant with a baby pepper on it was ripped up and left to die. There were three rows of peppers, and more than 20 are now history, such as the sheepnose pimento and tequila sunrise. And if they get hungry enough, it looks like they will settle for a celery plant, as one of them was eaten down to the ground. They also decided to try every leaf on a parsley plant, leaving it on the dirt after deciding that it tasted just as bad as the last bite.
So, we spent Wednesday trying to find the little rodents in the garden. Although I didn't find a rabbit, I did find a burrow in a compost pile. I destroyed it. Jonathan spent the afternoon mowing down all of the grass and weeds in there. He found nothing. I brought Porter into the garden again, and we walked around hoping to find any rabbits that might be hiding. Nothing.
This morning, part of me does not even want to go out there and look at it. Of course, there is the hopeful part of me that thinks we've done everything we can, so surely we've had no more losses.