Rabbit-mania strikes the Apps' garden

Jerry Apps
Steve Apps shares rueful grin while showing off the dismal crop of pumpkins that struggled to thrive in the Apps' farm garden this summer.

The vegetable garden year at Roshara has ended. And what a year it has been. Everything was planted on time: potatoes, onions, lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes, carrots and beets on April 25. Sweet corn, pumpkins, winter squash, zucchini, cucumbers, cabbage plants, kohlrabi, gourds and tomatoes on May 23.

Although we had periods of dry weather and periods of too much rain, everything came up and was growing well. Steve put up the fence to keep out the deer, wild turkeys and raccoons. One of our best-looking gardens. And then it happened. The rabbits invaded. Many of them. All hungry. They ate everything but the tomatoes, potatoes and vine crops. Ate the beans, lettuce, kale, beets, and cabbage right down to the ground. Hungry little buggers. In my more than 50 years of vegetable gardening, I had never seen anything like it. Nothing close.

So, my end of year garden report is a bit thin. Here are the grades: Potatoes--A—good yield. No scab. Blight held off until the potatoes were ready for harvest. Tomatoes--B—Quite good. Some blight. Sweet corn—C. Winter Squash—D, really never got going. Pumpkins—C. Harvested several little decorative pumpkins. Halloween size pumpkins struggled. Cucumbers—A. Did well; harvested a bunch. Carrots—C. Rabbits don’t like carrots.

Don’t laugh, but by far the most successful crop was the zucchini. It grew and grew, and produced more than anything else in the garden. A+ for the zucchini. Of course, the old saying holds, if you can’t grow anything else, you can probably grow zucchini.

Anyone have a suggestion for keeping those hungry little cottontails out of my garden next year?

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Just when you think you’ve got everything figured out—you don’t. Gardening is like that.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to