Of Droughts and Rabbits

Two weeks ago we had two days of rain and I thought, at last the drought is over! The garden did too. And for several days after we were all perky and happy. The beans started growing taller, the pumpkins began to vine, the corn shot up two feet. But we have not had rain since then and late last week the temperatures rose again to 90F/32C+. The rain barrels are almost empty once more and we continue to water trees and shrubs with gray water. This time we have added water from our air conditioner condenser that usually just ran down a sink drain in the basement. Now we have the outflow dripping into a bucket. And since it’s gotten a little humid too, the dehumidifier in the basement comes on often, so we have water from that as well.

There are scattered thunderstorms in the forecast for tonight but the chances of one watering my area are small. Tuesday, however, looks like a good day for rain. Fingers crossed!

mulberries
Mulberries

Between rain showers two weeks ago, James and I went foraging for mulberries. I found a nearby tree over the bike path by the creek when I was out riding. The tree ended up being on a slope, its branches rather high up, and the tree not really climbable. This was disappointing to say the least. However, we still managed to pick enough to have in our oatmeal one morning and in buckwheat pancakes as well. I found many other mulberry trees during the bike ride I discovered this one on, but they were all farther away so I didn’t save their location in my brain. Next year I will go out scouting for them on purpose. Mulberries are super tasty and it would nice to have some to dry for adding to granola.

elderberry
Monster Elderberry

In spring it looked like it was going to be a banner cherry year but the drought and heat made sure that didn’t happen. We got only a handful of cherries off the tree. Of course it didn’t help that the elderberry nearby has turned into a monster and is eating everything in its proximity. I gave it a good prune in the spring and again when it started having a growth spurt. But it turns out that it loves being pruned and it only grew even bigger. It is currently covered in flowers so I know I will have plenty of elderberry jam this winter. The Dashwoods are thrilled by the size of ki and spend most of their time wallowing in the shade beneath when they are let out of their run to roam in their garden area.

The bush cherries, however, which are in the main garden far from the monster elderberry, are covered in cherries that are currently hard green nuggets. The drought and heat saw them drop quite a few early on, but we have been including them in the gray water regimen so they are holding on. These cherries don’t get ripe until the end of July/early August but I remain hopeful that they will do ok. I really want a cherry pie.

carrot
baby carrot

The planter box I have on the deck that I fought the squirrels over and the squirrels won, has turned out to not be a total loss. In one corner of it I have a nice little patch of carrots growing. I had to thin them the other day and saved the greens for pesto (carrot greens pesto is soooo good) and got a true baby carrot that was marvelously flavorful for its small size. Made me really look forward to when I can harvest big carrots.

For the most part, the corn that the rabbit ate has recovered. The beans that got eaten along with the corn stalks have not. The belt snake did not strike fear into the heart of the critter. Nor did the garden gators. What did work was finding the holes the rabbit kept digging under the chain link fence and blocking them up. So the south side rabbit has been foiled.

toy alligator
Garden gator

The vinegar rabbit from the north side—the one that James barked at and sprayed with vinegar after it ate all the peas–has now returned and is on a mission of revenge (this could be the same rabbit who was eating the corn just getting in another way, but who can really say?). The north side of the garden is elevated by about three feet above my neighbor’s property and has a retaining wall running the whole length from front to back. Our fencing on that side of the garden is piecemeal and was only ever intended to keep the chickens in when we let them have free rein in early spring and mid to late fall. 

So we have a wooden trellis in one section with a climbing rose who was the provider of the petals that made my delicious rose jam. To the east of the wooden trellis is hardware cloth (not really cloth but strong wire mesh that animals can’t chew through) attached to metal stakes that run all the way back to the chicken garden and next to which is a right prickly stretch of black raspberries. To the west of the rose are a couple of metal stakes with plastic mesh garden fencing attached to it, nothing substantial at all, and over which Mrs. Dashwood flew once in early days when something scared her. Her flight scared the heck out of Mrs. Neighbor who had just walked out her side door a few feet away. 

So Vinegar Rabbit chewed a right big hole in the flimsy plastic mesh and snacked on some Jacob’s cattle beans. I blocked up the hole. But Vinegar Rabbit found a nice gap between the rose trellis and the hardware cloth that I can’t blockade because it is behind too many thorns. Vinegar Rabbit had the advantage and began making forays. Vinegar Rabbit discovered the dozen plus Kentucky Wonder pole beans shooting up their twine strings dangling down the side of the deck. Vinegar Rabbit took revenge and ate all but one of them. I don’t know why ki left one behind, but I got the message.

And now I have the supplies.

Tomorrow, James and I will be on our neighbor’s side of the fence extending the hardware cloth across the bottom of the wooden rose trellis and then replacing the flimsy plastic, all the way to the rain barrel at the corner of the house where we will make sure Vinegar Rabbit will not be able to sneak around it. 

I have a Kentucky Wonder pole bean to save!

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12 thoughts on “Of Droughts and Rabbits

  1. Closest to home we have a racoon family with three kits (at the exceptionally cute stage) which is a smaller family than in past years but we do see rabbits on our morning walks. Eating clover in Laila’s yard. LOL

    1. Awww BIP racoon babies are so cute! LOL rabbits and squirrels are abundant here this year. I suspect the drought might impact their population come next year and that would be an ok thing.

  2. I was just looking at your pictures first and I got scared when you mentioned garden gators! Now if only the rabbits would get scared right? Always enjoy reading about your time in the garden. I’m amazed at all the variety of things you grow and hope that the weather will return to normal soon.

  3. Loving your gardening adventures! Praying for rain here too, although we are definitely into our regular seasonal drought — it rarely rains from July to mid-September anyway. We have a well so I am trying to water things regularly. The tomatoes are looking good. I’m behind on everything else. Oh well! I planted three elderberry bushes this spring and they are little twigs right now, but your elderberry monster is making me consider whether I planted mine in a good place — will I be able to walk by them!? We shall see! I just wanted enough blossoms to make elderflower liqueur or some elderberry syrup… I may regret THREE of them but time will tell. The little serviceberry put out a few berries this year so I am hopeful that ki is getting some good roots and will thrive over the fall and winter. The deer decimated my roses so I need to go spray them with Deer Out — that seems to work pretty well and smells all pepperminty good. Ah, summer in the garden.

    1. Oh Daphne, your elderberries, I hope they have room! But if they get too big, prune the heck out of them. You will definitely get plenty of flowers and then some. Yay for your serviceberry! They take a little bit to get going but once they start getting berries you can expect to get a little more each year.

  4. I’m dealing with rabbits also. Or maybe just one small and stupid one. The lush squash and beans across the street surrounded by brushy cover is being ignored. This wee beastie ate the catnip, three mums, and a couple lemon balm plants. Also all the mini-pumpkins on this side of the road. Can’t imagine any of that being good in the belly. She’s probably stoned out of her tiny head today after defoliating the catnip last night.

    1. Seems like it’s a banner year for rabbits all over the place! Surprised your rabbit ate the catnip! Heh, maybe she ate that first, got stoned, and then got the munchies so went after the other things. Imagine the hangover! 😀

  5. I love the name “vinegar rabbit.” It sounds like the protagonist of a children’s book. I’ve been fighting the groundhogs with apple cider vinegar, but “vinegar groundhog” just doesn’t have the same ring!

    1. Heh Jeanne, it does, doesn’t it? Maybe you could test out something like “cider hog” for your groundhogs? I hope you are winning the battle with them!

  6. Good luck with all of your rabbit-blocking techniques, Stefanie. I hope you get more rain soon too. We had four rabbits in my backyard the other day, it was weird! I think they just love the clover in our yard so much – we don’t really have grass at all, just clover and weeds!

    1. Thank you Laila! If only Vinegar Rabbit stuck with clover and arugula in my garden instead of getting greedy. I think if I saw 4 rabbits out there at the same time I might go over the edge of sanity 🙂

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