This morning I found the culprit. When I was throwing fruit scraps in the compost bin I was amazed to see a rabbit inside the fenced area next to the lettuce stubs. It wasn't full-grown, but still big enough to break a hole through the plastic chicken-net fencing I'd installed around the perimeter. When he saw me he slipped through the hole and disappeared into a patch of day lilies next to the plot.
The hole was at the base of the netting, about 6 inches in diameter. I patched the hole with another piece of fencing, "sewing"them together with green garden twine. Next, I put a big pot in front of the repaired fence. I also dragged flowerpots, rocks, and other obstructions along the length of the side so the rabbit would have difficulty squeezing through. There are three other sides it could enter, though, so I did some research looking for other things I could do to keep rabbits out of my garden.
I found out that a rabbit's preferred garden crops are peas and lettuce. (Bummer!) In general they will not eat squash, tomatoes, or peppers, so my other plants should be safe. However, several Websites noted that rabbits would much rather eat clover than produce. My bunny mustn't have read that memo, because there's a patch growing right on the other side of the garden fence!
Other suggestions I found for deterring rabbits:
- Spread used kitty litter throughout the garden. We've been trying to get the cats to pull their own weight around here for years, and they certainly do a good job of producing used litter. I experimented with putting a couple of clumps along the breached side of the fence.
- Sprinkle human hair around the garden. Both Tony and I have recently had haircuts, so there's no extra hair to be found. I wonder if cat hair would do anything, though. The only thing they produce more of than dirty litter is hair.
- Pour hot sauce on the plants. This worked on some hostas last year, so I dug a bottle of Zulu Fire Sauce out of the refrigerator, dumped a generous amount into a large container of water, and poured the water over the lettuce and broccoli stumps. I HOPE the rabbit tries to eat them now!