QUESTION: Do rabbits eat tomatoes? I know they love greens, but I am wondering if my tomato plants are relatively safe. — Tina I
ANSWER: Yes, rabbits will eat tomatoes. They don’t only enjoy the plants themselves but also the fruits. Rabbits are herbivores. This means that they enjoy a variety of plants and greens.
It’s common to see rabbits munching on tomato leaves and stems while enjoying a few other garden plants such as lettuce and cucumbers.
They aren’t biased when it comes to tomato varieties. Rabbits are equal-opportunity grazers, and this can cause serious damage to your tomato harvest.
How do you know if a rabbit is grazing in your garden and what can you do about it? You aren’t defenseless to these cute pests. There are humane options for giving them the boot from your growing space.
To begin, if you see rabbit droppings in your garden, you’ll know they’ve been there. It isn’t difficult to spot as they leave little pellets behind.
Rabbits will also leave chew marks on your leaves and huge chunks are frequently missing from the tomatoes themselves.
If you see these signs, it’s time to defend your garden. Here are a few ideas on how to go about it:
1. Remove Clutter
If you’ve ever come across a rabbit in the wild, you know they freeze instantly. They don’t like to be out and about because they have many enemies.
Therefore, you can keep rabbits from your property by removing any areas of brush or heavily planted spaces filled with large shrubs. These are all areas for rabbits to hide. If they have nowhere to hide, they’ll leave your garden alone because it’s too great a risk to get to it.
2. Keep Your Garden Tidy
The same rules apply for your garden space. If you have a garden filled with overgrown plants and weeds, the rabbits have plenty of room to hide.
However, if you keep your garden tidy, it will leave the rabbits too exposed to graze peacefully. This might be enough to keep them out of your garden altogether.
3. Add Fencing
Another obvious choice in battling rabbits is to put up a fence. However, if you’ve ever seen Peter Rabbit, you know a basic fence won’t do. Rabbits are great at sliding through tight spaces and are quite determined creatures.
Instead, construct a wire fence. The smaller the squares in the fence, the better. Then place chicken wire at the bottom. This should stop the rabbits from sliding through anywhere and also keep them from digging beneath the fence.
4. DIY or Purchased Rabbit Repellent
Rabbits have distinct scents they don’t enjoy. Many commercial rabbit repellents have combined these odors. Typically, it’s a granular product that you sprinkle around your garden. I used this last year and had good results.
You can also make your own DIY rabbit repellent by placing red pepper flakes and garlic around your growing area. They don’t like either of these scents.
5. Utilize Predators
This might be another product you must purchase. If you can find ways to spread the scent of a predator, rabbits should stay away from your garden.
Sometimes gardeners sprinkle hair from a brush they use when combing their cats. You may even be able to purchase urine of an animal predator and sprinkle it around your garden. Hunters use these types of odors to attract animals. You may be able to use them for the opposite reason.
6. Motion Sprinklers
If you’d like something you can place in your garden to keep rabbits at bay and not have to worry about reapplying it ever so often, motion sprinklers could be the thing.
When a rabbit enters your garden area, and begins moving around, the sprinklers will activate and spray the unwanted visitor. This should scare the rabbit and encourage it to leave.
7. Humane Traps
This option is a little tricky. There are humane rabbit traps on the market. They’re basically a box that you put food inside. As the rabbit enters, they trip a wire which closes the door of the trap.
However, you must check laws in your area. In some places, it’s illegal to relocate a wild animal. Therefore, you may end up having to release the rabbits you catch in the same area. Do your homework before utilizing this option.
8. Use Unfavorable Scents
There are more scents that keep rabbits at bay. For instance, you may sprinkle dried sulfur or hang mothballs from your tomato plants.
Utilize mothballs by filling up an old sock and hanging it from the plant or a stake placed next to your tomato plants. These strong scents should keep rabbits out of your garden.
9. Companion Planting
As mentioned earlier, rabbits don’t like the smell of garlic. By practicing companion planting, with tomatoes and garlic, these pests should leave your garden alone.
If you’re unfamiliar with companion planting, it’s planting two crops together that help each other. In this case, the garlic should keep pests away from your tomatoes.
10. Fake Them Out
The final way to keep your tomato plants safe from rabbits is to fake them out. What do I mean by this? By planting a small garden next to your vegetable garden.
However, fill this small garden with things rabbits love. For instance, they love clover more than tomatoes. By filling this smaller growing space with clover, they should be drawn to it and leave your crops alone.
At this point, you know that rabbits will eat your tomatoes. They won’t kill them, but they can strip young tomatoes of all their leaves and blooms. This will hinder your harvest greatly.
Rabbits can also snack on your tomatoes which can reduce your harvest as well. Utilize the tips above to keep rabbits out of your garden and keep your tomatoes safe this gardening season.