Category Archives: Gardening

Our “MicroFarm” is a MacroDeal

Mad Hatter Microfarm LogoOne thing you’ll notice in the future is that we’re expanding our horizons from simply “Mad Hatter Rabbits” to “Mad Hatter MicroFarm.” We admit it, the rabbits were our gateway animal! They got us into this happy homesteading lifestyle and we will always be grateful for this!

Part of our commitment when we first started in rabbits in 2012 was that we would be on the lookout for additional sustainable living options that we could do on our urban property. Over the years that has expanded as we’ve taken one small step at a time toward a more wholesome lifestyle.

Rabbits were our beginning. Lots of research, lots of practice, and we felt like we were getting the hang of it. Four years ago we started with our gardening projects, and the last two years have really ramped it up where we can actually supplement our family’s diet with what we grow. Last spring we ended up with both quail and chickens, and this spring we are expanding our efforts with a dairy goat.

At the root of all of these changes is a desire to be as close to our food processes as possible. We aren’t certified organic anything… but we do our best to be as close to organic as possible. I like to think of it as attempting to copy the way our grandparents lived life, when a full-service WalMart wasn’t within a 20 mile radius of practically everywhere and our meat didn’t come on styrofoam trays!

Our movements toward this lifestyle have been gradual, but our blog will now reflect the various aspects of learning and exploring we do to create this high-altitude homesteading, microfarming experience at 7,000 ft. Hopefully by bringing all of the various aspects of our life underneath one blog you’ll see more frequent posts and find yourself exploring ideas and learning for your own self-sufficient dreams!

You’ll still find this site when you search for “Mad Hatter Rabbits,” but over time we’ll be using Mad Hatter Microfarm more and more. Don’t get confused! It’s still us!

Our Garden with Bunny Berries – 2018

After a few years of gardening with bunny berries, we are now convinced that these little cast off nuggets make our plants crazy, ridiculously happy!

For background, we live in the mountains of Arizona, in zone 6a. Our last frost date is June 14, and we usually drop to freezing/have snow by mid-October. This makes gardening relatively challenging. Many of our plants don’t grow quite as well or large as those in our slightly southern areas. BUT, gardening with bunny berries gives us an advantage!

This year we planted a bed of squash/zucchini, tomatoes, and comfrey, a bed of salad leaves, basil, broccoli, and lemon balm, a bed of sweet peppers and okra, a bed of cucumbers, a bed of watermelon, and a bed of asparagus. Additionally we had a container garden of several varieties of potatoes, mint, bunching onions, strawberries, artichoke, rosemary, and chives.

We also added three raised beds that were filled 8″ with cinder dirt and 8″ with pure rabbit manure. When we got finished we just planted straight into the bunny berry dirt and let them grow! (We did add a decorative top soil of wood chips.

We decided to be bold and prepared the garden in May. We knew we were traveling the first two weeks of June and wouldn’t be home to plant so we took our chances with the weather and fortunately, this year the gamble paid off!

Over the summer we have been able to see our garden sprout and then flourish. It has been incredibly satisfying to grow our own vegetables and also reuse a resource in the form of bunny manure. We used both aged manure and fresh manure throughout the garden and saw no difference between those two forms of fertilizer.

One thing that was new for us this year is that we now have chickens! We have been fairly anti-chicken for quite awhile because they aren’t silent like rabbits! However, our daughter begged and begged and I made the mistake of going to the feed store during chick days. We came home with a lot of chicks. NONE OF THEM DIED AND NONE OF THEM WERE ROOSTERS. What are the odds?!

Because we had these crazy little birds we also used them to till our garden beds. It worked out fabulously and we plan to set them loose in the garden area throughout this spring to work the soil for us. It’s all about symbiotic relationships and capitalizing on what is natural to benefit all parties, right?!

Now that you’ve seen the bare ground of our gardening attempts, let me share some photos of our garden and harvest as it progressed over the summer. We were thrilled!

Cucumbers were our best crop this year by far. Last year it was the tomatoes, but this year we had fresh cucumbers and pickles until the world looked level. Our squash and zucchini also produced the biggest leaves I’ve ever seen outside of the pacific northwest!

I can’t say exactly how much money we saved using bunny berries instead of soil from the garden center but when you consider the size of our raised beds that needed to be filled I’d hazard it was several hundred dollars of savings just by recycling our bunny berries. Additionally, our daughter sold bags of rabbit manure ($5 for a bag of berries, we reused 50 lbs, rabbit food bags for packaging) and was able to pay for her market goat project independently using that income. Our local gardeners were thrilled and so was our daughter!

It’s been a fun adventure to try to figure out the ways we can create multipurpose benefits from having these rabbits. They continue to be a fun adventure for our whole family!

Gardening with Bunny Berries

As I type it’s snowing outside, which may be the reason I’m thinking about gardening! We are in planting zone 6a in our little mountain town, so where some people are starting to put plants in the ground, we are still looking at sprouts – our last expected freeze is June 14!


Last year was the first year that we seriously attempted the garden and we counted on the bunny berries to make it happen! In previous years we have done planter gardening, or had success with small pieces of the puzzle, but last year we had actual raised beds and straw bales and all sorts of goodies. We are fortunate to have family members who are excellent gardeners, and their encouragement inspired us to boldness to try our own!


The natural soil in our area has a lot of cinder dust. We created our beds, filled them with rabbit manure, and topped it off with pine chips we had from a tree being taken down a few years ago. We used a drip line to run through the beds. We planted several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, watermelons, lemon balm, peppermint, salad greens, basil, strawberries, cucumbers, rosemary, asparagus, and bunching onions. We also planted marigolds, day lilies, and zinnia for splashes of color and the bug deterring properties!

In our back yard we planted five honeysuckle, two blueberries, and three raspberries. And then we got a monster of a puppy who ate every single one of the bushes as well as our entire drip system, wallowing in the damp beds with evident satisfaction. Our plan this year is to control the beast. But for last year the garden was a complete wash.


According to our gardening folks who know, our first year garden was a smashing success! Much, much of this can be attributed to the rabbit manure, and very little can be credited to the growers. However, our tomatoes were happy, happy, happy, they grew tall and produced fruit for weeks! We had salad all the way into February, although our cucumbers, peppers, and strawberries were not happy and didn’t produce anything. We will move them next year and try again.


We still don’t understand the science behind all of it, but we can affirmatively state that the bunny berries are the way to go for success. Apparently our soil is extremely happy, smells right, and is dying for the opportunity to produce more soon! We got the book, Crockett’s Victory Garden as a Christmas present and are devouring it to learn how to have even more success this summer.

This year we’re going to try again, and maybe even add another bed or two since we have the space. We’ve been emptying our rabbit droppings straight into the garden beds in preparation and I’m plotting to add bee-friendly varieties of plants.

How have your gardens been doing with the addition of bunny berries?

Make your Own Bunny Berry Tea (and replace Miracle Gro forever)

Bunny Berry tea can replace your use of Miracle Gro forever!

Bunny Berry tea can replace your use of Miracle Gro forever!

If you garden and raise rabbits (or are near someone who does raise rabbits!), you can forget about having to buy Miracle Gro or fertilizer ever again. Make your own Bunny Berry Tea to fertilize your gardens!


Brewing a batch of Bunny Berry tea can add nutrients to your garden soil. A form of compost tea, manure tea contains beneficial microorganisms, bacteria, nematodes, enzymes and organic matter that you want to add to the soil. Unlike compost tea however, the goal in brewing manure tea is not to increase the good bacteria or multiply microorganisms, but merely to pull the nutrients out of the manure and dissolve them into a liquid ‘tea’.
Tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage and watermelons specifically benefit from some extra nitrogen in the soil. Rabbit manure fertilizes your garden by adding nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, too. Fresh rabbit manure has about 2% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus and 1% potassium, according to the National Gardening Association. Composted rabbit manure contains about 2.4% nitrogen, 1.4% phosphorus and 0.6% potassium, according to the University of Kentucky. Bunny Berry tea will also give your garden these boosts of nutrients.
So how do you make your own Bunny Berry tea and tell Miracle Gro to take their product and shove it?!
  1. Make a ‘tea bag’ for the manure using an old pillow case. Fill the pillow case with rabbit poop and put it into a 5-gallon bucket. Cover with water. (About 1/3 bunny berries and 2/3 water.)
  2. Let the pail sit in a sunny location uncovered for a week or so. Introducing oxygen to the solution by dunking it a few times a day so pathogens and bad bacteria won’t grow. Your resulting ‘tea’ should resemble iced tea in color when it’s done.
  3. Apply to your plants.
How easy is that?!
Note: Manure tea is most useful when given to young seedlings and plants for a boost of nitrogen to help them grow. Apply the manure tea once a week using a watering can or hose sprayer attachment around the base and root area of the plants until they start to flower. Because of the potential for pathogens, don’t apply to root crops (such as potatoes, beets, carrots, etc.) and don’t apply to leaves you will be consuming (such as lettuce, kale, spinach or other greens). Wash your hands after each use and keep leftover tea stored outside loosely covered.
Thank you to Fresh Eggs Daily for inspiration for this post!

Using Rabbit Manure (Bunny Berries) in Your Garden

Rabbit poop makes gardens happy!

Rabbit poop makes gardens happy!

Who knew there was so much versatility in rabbit poop?!

Gardeners worldwide adore rabbit manure as one of God’s gifts to mankind. The manure of rabbits is an easy-to-use fertilizer which constitutes 2.4% nitrogen, 1.4% phosphoric acid, and 0.6% potash. Unlike in the case of other manures, it is not necessary to age rabbit manure prior to application; you can apply it around plants while it is still fresh as it is not harmful in its natural state.

Last year we offered bags of bunny berries to our brother-in-law, who is an avid organic gardener with decades of experience. We had heard all about how rabbit manure was a great additive to the garden, but we don’t have the personal experience to back up the claims… so we asked him to be our guinea pig!

He LOVED it! He placed bunny berries on about half of his garden as a test and discovered that the plants with bunny berry support were healthier, more productive, and grew better. He’s signed up for more bags for his whole garden this year and has been bragging about it at the Farmer’s Market all winter!

One benefit gardeners see to bunny berries is that rabbit manure is less likely to have weed seeds than cow or horse manure. Cows and horses eat fresh grass, plants and hay, which contain weed seeds. The seeds get into the manure and then grow in your garden. Rabbits typically have a controlled diet of vegetables and prepared rabbit food, making it less likely rabbit manure will add weed seeds to your garden.

Here are some recommendations for using bunny berries in your garden:

  • Top-dress your existing garden with rabbit manure or work it into the soil before planting. Simply broadcast 2.5 to 10 pounds of fresh or composted manure for every 10 square feet. The exact amount of rabbit manure to apply depends on soil quality and the nutrient requirements of the plants you plan to grow.
  • Work the manure into the soil with a shovel and hoe or a rototiller. If you leave the fresh manure on top of the soil, cover it with 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch, such as hay, dry leaves or grass clippings, which will balance out the C:N ratio by mixing it with materials with high carbon content, such as wood chips, and straw as well as prevent the nutrients from running off when it rains.

Let us know how your garden does this year after your adventures in rabbit poop gardening!

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