Q&A: Tips on growing herbs and repelling rabbits
Garden writer Ciscoe Morris on growing herbs and protecting the garden from rabbits.
Special to The Seattle Times
Soos Creek Botanical Garden Plant Sale: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 9-10, 29308 132nd Ave. S.E., Auburn (www.sooscreekbotanicalgarden.org).
14th annual Backyard Wildlife Festival: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. May 10, Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. S., Tukwila (www.backyardwildlifefestival.org).
Edmonds in Bloom/Kids Plant for Mom’s Day: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. May 10. Children plant pots with flowers for their mothers for Mother’s Day with the help of Edmonds in Bloom volunteers. Fifth Avenue North and Bell Street in Edmonds; $9 donation for materials (www.edmondsinbloom.com).
In the Garden
Q: I love to cook with herbs, but I’ve never tried growing them. Is it difficult?
A: It’s fun and relatively easy to design and maintain an herb garden. It’s truly amazing how many herbs you can grow in a small space.
The first task is to find a sunny location with well-drained soil. If a suitably sunny location has poorly drained soil, you can easily solve that problem by building a raised bed and filling it with quality topsoil.
Try to find a location near the kitchen. It’s a real pain in the kazutski if you have to trek to the back of the garden every time you need to harvest, especially during a downpour.
Most any design will work for an herb garden. The most important concern is to choose herbs with similar watering needs and make sure to plant the taller ones in the back so they don’t block the sun from lower growing ones.
It’s not a bad idea to get a book or two on growing and harvesting herbs. Some herbs, such as horseradish, comfrey and mint, spread aggressively from roots and should be grown only in containers, while others, like chives, tend to seed themselves around and should be harvested often to prevent them from coming up all over the place. Don’t forget to leave space for herbs like basil and stevia that won’t be ready to plant until temperatures warm up around the beginning of June.
Q: Rabbits devoured my entire garden, even leveled my annuals and other flowers. We’ve seen them around again already this spring. What can we do to get rid of them before we plant this year’s garden? Please help!
A: Although I was madly in love with my pet rabbit, Snowball, when I was a kid, I know how destructive those cute little bunnies can be if they get into your garden.
Rabbits are eating machines, and most any flower and vegetable crop is at their mercy. It wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so many of them, but rabbits are also reproduction machines. Each female is capable of producing 18 bunnies per breeding season!
They prefer tender new growth, so if you can keep them away until plants gain size and leaves toughen up they’re much less likely to be tempted by them. Hence, one strategy is to grow a lettuce patch just for them at a location away from your garden.
For a little extra insurance, with proper eye protection, spray hot-pepper sauce on the plants you’re trying to protect. Rabbits will avoid anything sprayed with hot sauce, but the rain will wash it off, so frequent applications will be needed.
One tool that might be worth trying is the ScareCrow Motion-Activated Animal Deterrent (www.contech-inc.com). The ScareCrow has a head with batteries and a motion and heat detector. Attached to your hose, it senses an intruder and blasts it with a 35-foot spray of water, reloads and gets ready to fire again.
Animals get used to its pattern and try to circumvent it, so to be effective you’ll need a few of them and will need to move them often. If that doesn’t work, try a fence. A 3-foot-tall poultry fence with ¾-inch diameter mesh will keep them out, as long as it extends 6 inches deep into the ground. It’s a bit expensive and a lot of work putting it in, but a fence definitely will keep Snowball’s cohorts out of your garden.
Ciscoe Morris: email@example.com “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING 5.
About Ciscoe Morris
Ciscoe Morris' column runs Thursdays. His show "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on King 5.