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Bunnies like this one sniff around at Dirt Cottage.

If bunnies a problem, use wire

The bunnies are everywhere, nibbling, nibbling, nibbling.

As long as they don’t chomp on my veggies, chew the bark off my trees or snip garden seedlings in half, I cannot say they really bother me.

They are cute and make my new dog giddy as she sniffs out their trails, flushes them out and runs as far as the leash will allow.

Besides, my neighborhood has red-tail hawks and hoot owls – and they are most definitely not vegans. You won’t have eagles and other raptors if you don’t have anything for them to eat, and cottontails are excellent snacking material.

I live in peace with Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail by planting tender tidbits such as lettuce and peas in pots that are about 18 inches high. The rabbits could jump up and eat out of them like a giant salad bowl, I suppose, but they never have at Dirt Garden.

My yard has plenty of clover, anyway, and the long-eared ones seem to prefer it over most of my vegetable plants.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said you can protect young seedlings and bark from hares, mice, squirrels and other chewing rodents by forming a cylinder of half-inch mesh hardware cloth or chicken wire and forcing it into the ground around the plant.

You could do this for other plants as well, as long as you make the fence about 2 feet high and make sure it is in firmly down in the ground, using stakes. You don’t want the rabbits to burrow underneath and end up with a pen that makes them safe from predators, do you?

The DNR also says you should remove any brush piles and other cover near the garden so that the little darlings don’t have a little bunny fort they can dash in and out of while munching on your plants.

I place chicken wire over the ground where tulips will come up in the spring, and it keeps Rocky the Squirrel and his cousins from digging up the bulbs. If I had a problem with rabbits eating those plants, I’d protect them in very early spring with a little dome of chicken wire.

Is there good news for those of you who get higher blood pressure at the mere sight of Brother Rabbit?

Yes.

The DNR says that bunny populations tend to go in 10-year cycles, and it looks as if we’re just going through a peak year.

Anne Gregory is a garden putterer, not a gardening expert, and JournalGazette.net writer and editor. Garden photos (JPEGs, please) and tips may be sent to garden@jg.net (please put “The Dirt” in the subject line) or 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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