Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A TOAD TALE

We had a gorgeous warm weekend here this past weekend.  I spent as much of it outside as I could.

Saturday I decided to take a break from the tea garden plot and move to the very back of our back yard to an area that has been really ignored by me, pretty much since we moved into this house.

It is another of those areas that was left to run wild, and though I have managed to tame it a bit every spring, I have not worked it enough through the summer months to really make it a productive area.
Last year I moved 5 rhubarb cuttings from the front yard to this space, but the plants were quickly dwarfed by weeds, and I never did anything about it.

That's gonna change this year.  I want a good rhubarb harvest for one thing, and for another there is still an area there that could be planted with some other vegetable I have yet to try.  I'm thinking garlic.

I will have to check and see if rhubarb and garlic are companions... it they can stand growing close to one another, or not!  If they are, then I am going to attempt garlic.

Everyone tells me that garlic should be planted in fall, but I was reading the back of a package of garlic sets in the store on Friday and it said it could be planted early spring as soon as the soil is able to be worked - so that means this week!

Strange as it seems though - I was not working in this remote back area of my yard for either the rhubarb or the garlic.  It was toads that I was interested in harvesting.

This back area is where I have found a lot of toads - mostly buried in the soil in spring.  They seem to like the area right at the back where I compost my grass cuttings.  It is sunny but also offers some shade at different times of the day.  My idea was that I should build a toad pond to encourage them to help me control insects in my garden and yard.

I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on this endeavour - but having said that - if they come to this small pond - I will build them a better one in the future.

So first I edged the whole area (the grass had grown into the garden part at least a foot since we moved here).  I cut down some old Hollyhocks, weeded the rest,  cleaned the area around where the rhubarb is growing and decided on a place to dig a hole for my toad pond.

I got my spade out and made a nice deep cut in the soil - and decapitated an adult toad on my first spadeful of dirt.

I was so upset.  I knew that area was their favourite winter resting spot, but I guess I thought perhaps they might have been awake already - apparently not - poor guy didn't know what hit him.  So I buried him where he lay...

I already had a big hole dug, so I kept going, and thankfully I was able to make the hole I needed to put the round plastic kitchen wash basin in the ground without any further causalities.

Phew - such stress!

Here is my very small toad pond.  I still need to gather some more rocks for around the perimeter of the pond, but I did plant some day lilies close to the pond to provide shade and shelter for my little friends.

The large piece of tree bark can be used for shelter, but I am also going to put a toad house nearby for more shelter from the sun and from natural predators.

Did you know that toads consume close to 30,000 insects during one summer season?  They love slugs and snails, and of course mosquitoes.  It is advised to put a garden light close to their area to attract mosquitoes at night when the toads are out searching for food.

I am hoping once they wake up from their winter nap, that they find this little pond, and maybe lay some eggs here - if not, then at least they have a place for some water during the hot summer months.


At the back where the white is, is where I compost my grass clippings ( the white is newspapers I have put down between the layers of scrap sod I have trimmed).  The pond is that other bit towards the front, and the area between the two sticks is where my rhubarb is planted.

Hopefully it will all look much better when things are actually up and growing...

We really need a good soaking rain... and soon!




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