Category Archives: rabbits

A banner year

So while we’ve had a few problems this year (see also: rabbit in fenced garden, bugs) it’s turning out to be an amazing year:

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We’ve lost a couple of squash plants – due to powdery mold, bugs or both, it’s not clear, but we’ve successfully harvested zucchini pretty consistently since the middle of July.  Of our 6 plants, 3 are producing – all zucchini – and we’re keeping up with consuming what we’re picking.  We’ll stick with the 6 plant plan for next year, because if everything does well we’ll have to give stuff away even at that low number.  We’ve come quite a way from the days of 6 of both types of plants.  Those were some dark times – for us, and the neighbors.

The tomatoes this year are amazing.  Our sungold plants are over 6 feet tall, and so heavy we’ve taken to leaning the cages against the fence and lashing them in place:

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Our peas this year have been somewhat anemic – Mr. Big Pea produced enough peas for a sandwich bag, and the sugar snap lagged further behind that.  Which is interesting, given that we rotated them to a different part of the garden and we used a soil inoculant to help the plants live longer.  Currently they start to die off just as the pods begin to form, so instead of being indeterminant, we get one harvest.  J yanked out all the Mr. Big Pea plants earlier this week and planted a second crop, something we’ve never done before.  We estimate about 7 to 8 weeks before we’re at a huge risk for frost, although the last 2 years we’ve had snow near Halloween, which is about twelve weeks away.  We had the seeds for planting, so we figured we’d give it a shot.  Also planted this weekend – the third crop of lettuce, and more parsley, cilantro and basil. I’ve picked pretty much what we have, so if I want stuff for the fall, I had to replant.  I’m also hoping for enough basil to do a little pesto this year, and freeze it.

We’ve had a lot of rain this summer, punctuated but spells of hot, sunny weather, which has been enormously helpful to the garden, and to our non-farmed yard.  It has never looked this nice this late in the summer since we moved in.  And as I write this, it’s raining again, after a week of sunny 80-something days:

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I’m sure in years to come we will look back on this season fondly.  Except for the peas.  And that rabbit.

The thin line between cute and varmint

Let’s review the definitions of cute vs. varmint, shall we?

Cute – adj. – 1. Delightfully pretty or dainty.  2. Obviously contrived to charm; precious.

Aww, look, a bunny!
Aww, look, a bunny!

Var mint – n. – 1.  an undesirable, usually predatory or verminous animal2. an obnoxious or annoying person.

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That’s right, that’s a photo of a rabbit inside the garden, suddenly turning both of us into Mr. McGregor – right after we got over our astonishment that the cute little bunny rabbit can fit through the fenceThis was a scenario we had not planned for.  The photo was the second time Peter had deigned to enter the garden; late last week when he did it J went in after him, startling him badly as he ran toward the end of the garden, looking for a way out.  J was able to shoo him out the gate, and then thought he fixed the problem by tightening the gate closure at the bottom to keep him from squeezing under it – which was how we thought he was getting in.

Sunday morning I was drinking coffee on the porch, and the rabbit was nonchalantly nibbling clover on the lawn.  “How cute,” I thought.  The rabbit hopped closer to the fence.  “Hey J, come watch how sad this rabbit is going to be when it discovers it can’t get under the gate anymo……….”  Bam!  One minute we’re looking at the bunny on the stepping stone, acting all casual, and the next, Houdini is in the garden.  We did not realize the rabbit could get through the fence until I watched him shove his furry brown hindquarters through an opening 2″ x 3″ in an attempt to evade my amature paparazzi efforts.  For a few moments, we thought he was still going under the gate.  Apparently not.  Also, we might have a boneless rabbit living in our yard.  Go measure that 2″ x 3″ out.  I’ll wait.  Right?  It is most definitely a rabbit, not a chipmunk or something that would logically fit through the fence.

We’re at a bit of a loss about what to do about this, and also what, exactly, Peter is eating in the main garden.  We think the raised bed with the good stuff – carrots and parsnips – is secure enough, but who can be sure anymore?  It’s possible the rabbit is after the straw that we put around the tomatoes, but I would think the fresh clover outside the fence would be more appealing.  Eventually the rabbit will get too big to get through the fence.  Hopefully before it eats anything in the garden.

 

There was a definition of cute I didn’t include up above:

Cute – adj. – 3. clever, shrewd.

Exactly.

Squash

This year one of our experiments was to try and grow butternut squash.  Growing this type of squash is an exercise in patience, because it takes all season and you might not get that much.

We managed to get 4 vines to grow and ended up with about a half-dozen squash of varying sizes.  This one is one of our best:


What lovely color you have, my dear.  All the better to eat you!

That’s actually still sitting on our kitchen table even though it was picked about two weeks ago when the vines started to die off.  My memory of winter squash is that it will keep a while, so I’m just leaving it on the kitchen table with the Jack-be-Little pumpkins (more on them in another post) as an ornamental gourd.  I plan on peeling, chopping and cooking it for Thanksgiving.  If it starts to go soft before then, I will do what I did with some of the smaller ones – peel, chop & blanch before freezing.

We actually ate a couple of the smaller squash that we picked, figuring it was probably a good idea to see if they tasted okay before we make them a component of our Thanksgiving meal and they’re terrible.

I know you’re probably thinking, what a cute little squash!  Not so cute?  What was done to it:

It was not only the squash that was a victim of something’s teeth – a watermelon and a couple of pumpkins also fell victim to an all-you-can-eat buffet.  It was fine in both cases – the part of the rind that was nibbled got cut away, and we composted the pumpkin because it was starting to break down where teeth met skin.

We’re thinking it was probably not this guy that did it:

At least he’s on the right side of the road

It actually didn’t take me that long to try to figure out how to work putting a photo of a buffalo on a blog about gardening in New England, in case you were wondering.  It’s a quick leap from “rabbit” to “buffalo” in my world.  Also, this will allow me to add the tag “buffalo” to the list of labels for this blog, which amuses me immensely.

I will tell you that buffalo is an incredibly tasty meat if you like a carnivorous side with your vegetables for dinner.  No, we did not eat the guy in the photo.

Monsterous Vegetables

Hey, it’s October, and I am completely focused on Halloween, my favorite holiday.  In the spirit of that, I give you photos of monsterous and mutant vegetables.

This is one of the radishes that grew out back with the pumpkins.  The stalk on it got long enough that it trailed down and intertwined with the pumpkins, so it was not until the pumpkin vines started dying off that we noticed there was this monsterous mutant growing with the pumpkins.  It’s about the size of a softball:

Way too large for a radish.  It did make us wonder how long we could leave them there and just how big they would get.

As you know, our squash plants were decimated by squash beetles.  Our neighbors, J & S, just a few hundred feet from us, saw virtually no damage at all.  They planted quite a bit of zucchini & summer squash, and it often gets away from them, as is evidenced in the photo below:

They are arranged in an oversized mixing bowl in that photo, and the soda bottle you see in the upper right corner is actually a 2-liter bottle of soda, not a 16-oz one, just so you have perspective.
We actually consumed all that squash (I made epic amounts of chocolate chip zucchini bread, which freezes really well), but we chose to leave the radish for the rabbit.

Why we have fences

Not the slightest bit bothered by both of us out inside the back-40 garden fence, talking and picking peas and beans.  The fence, of course, does nothing about the chipmunk that’s been getting in back there, nibbling on a few of the low-hanging peas.  This one is more polite than the one out front who samples just a little bit from each strawberry before moving on.  Like his strawberry-loving cousin, he’s digging holes all over that garden.

Not inside the fence is our pumpkin patch.  We’ve had some bad luck with the Rouge Vif de Temps (Cinderella pumpkins) – the cucumber beetles enjoyed the vines so they’re kind of anemic.

We are having great luck with what we’ve been calling the mystery pumpkins – last year at the Finger Lakes in NY, already suffering from a terrible year for Jack o’Lantern pumpkins, we stopped at an Amish farm stand and bought pumpkins.

Mystery pumpkin

Orange Smoothie

Batwing – turns orange from the top down

Last night we pulled all of the remaining zucchini plants (2) and summer squash (1) due to a massive infestation of squash beetles. 

The leaves were covered with egg sacks and there were nymphs on everything.  Adult squash beetles are apparently difficult to kill and we just foresaw an infestation that would winter over and cause problems next year, so we sealed all the leaves in a plastic bucket with a lid and will be disposing of the leaves this weekend.  It is really disappointing – in past years we’ve been overwhelmed with zucchini, summer squash and cucumber, allowing us to give it away to a lot of people.  This year we harvested 2 summer squash, three zucchini, and three cucumbers.  It’s a given fact in gardening that you will not have a perfect year for every type of plant, but it’s ironic that on a year when we decided to cut back on the number of squash plants we put in the ground, we get nailed by beetles.