Plant Jail :)

aka What to actually do with “rabbit cages”
A swath of yard that is filled with flowering plants, lots of color and a small tree

Take a look at the photo above. Notice anything? Besides the blurry resolution. And not the almost-hidden utility pole. Not the charlie creeping into the edge of the bed, either. I mean the ‘rabbit cages’. There are three of them in this photo. Really! And today I will share how they are super handy for gardeners.

These 2-feet x 3-feet (or larger) black-coated metal crates are sold as cages for rabbits. I refer to them as “plant jails” or “plant cages” because plants have nowhere to go (whereas rabbits actually DO need to run, hop, and zoom around) and as a portable cube of bars, they are an easy, impermanent way to protect leaves and stems of things you do not want nibbled in the garden. In a way they are “rabbit cages,” but only from the standpoint of keeping rabbits away* from what’s inside them.

The bonus? They have other parts that are also great for gardening!

A foldable cage has four sides; a top/ceiling; a ‘floor’ that is a metal grid (absolutely horrible on rabbit feet); and a slide-out plastic pan.

In this photo, the grid is now a drying rack after sterilizing pots for seed starting in March. Like a cooling rack, it allows air flow from below. Faster drying!

Pans (that are sized to fit under the grid) are *perfect* as watering trays for seedlings and make it so easy to transport young plants in and out when temps warm enough to begin the transition to outdoor living.

And when those seedlings have been hardened off and are ready to be put in the ground, some of them will be planted “in jail.” Protected from cottontail teeth and tucked under a sturdy frame to attach shade cloth or row cover if needed while roots establish. Yet another bonus: for species that will grow tall, the ‘ceiling’ bars are a ready support. No more flopping flowers with lots of staking.

*Word to the wise: If you have newly independent baby rabbits in your area, you will want to do a wrap-around of chicken wire about a foot up from the ground. The little ones can fit between the cage bars and they are eager to explore (and taste test!) what is inside.

Ready to buy a “rabbit cage”?

I’m glad to have convinced you of the utility of them for your garden, but please do NOT order one. Please! Look at Goodwill and local websites for people who are selling one used (that’s how I found all three of mine). The price will be much cheaper, and it’s a tiny message to the market that domestic rabbits – just like domestic dogs and cats – should not be in cages anyway.

And if you cannot find one right away, or if space does not permit a plant jail in your garden beds, well…

Your place is their place! Keep growing!

3 comments

    1. The bees will be so happy to find yours! Some people call it ‘hummingbird mint’ and the hummers here seem so-so about it (they visit the salvias much more frequently) but the bees absolutely are all over it! Keep an eye on it if you have a wet Spring. I actually almost lost that one last year. (It rebounded this year just fine, as you can see!) πŸ™‚

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