Thursday, July 24, 2008

Helping to become a more successful gardener

We all have heard the expression, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. That is for sure, I will attest to that and can say for certain that being single, I have been experimenting on finding my prince, but with little success. I have just read an article, in an email newsletter that I receive, which I found really interesting as an amateur "green thumbed Gardener" prompting this post.
Why are toads so happy? They eat whatever bugs them! Maybe there is more meaning there then on the surface.......not a bad philosophy.

So, Build a Toad House....
Believe it or not, toads are one of the best residents you could have in your garden. Building a toad house with your kids is a great way to get them jazzed about the outdoors and understand the important role toads play in nature. Creating a safe haven for them in your garden ensures that they will want to stay a long, long time!

The Toad Abode
“It’s a great house, and the neighbors are nice. Hop on over for a visit!”
Despite their warts, native toads are yard-friendly. They’re mega bug-eaters, and your children will delight in watching these hopping critters make their way through your garden before bedtime. So welcome toads “home” by providing a safe place for them to rest and stay cool during the day – with a toad abode.

As Mom once told you, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And inside just about any toad you’ll find a beautiful belly full of bugs. In fact, these eating machines can chow down nearly 100 insects every night – and that can add up to more than 10,000 bugs during the gardening season! Toads aren’t picky eaters, either. They’ll eat worms, slugs, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, flies, gnats, mosquitoes – even mosquito larva. So skip the bug spray and invite nature’s best garden ally to your yard!

So how do you roll out the red carpet for these garden guests? Well, the good news is toads aren’t too demanding, but you’ll have to have certain conditions available in your yard to draw them into your garden and keep them there:

● Moisture: Any consistent water source is an invitation. Shallow bowls or ground-level birdbaths are the easiest options (although sometimes a pet’s water dish does the trick – but check your local species to learn which ones could be toxic to your animals). Even a daily water sprinkling in your garden can provide standing puddles. Of course, ponds are the best attractants because toads need a larger source of water for breeding and laying eggs. Don’t worry much about the toads eating too many of your fish, though. They’re more likely to eat water bugs, and the tadpoles will nibble on the algae on the side of the pond.

● Shade: Toads do their best work during the cool night hours. During the day, they must avoid the sun to keep from becoming dehydrated.

● Shelter: You may have the perfect toad home and not even know it! Woodpiles, rock piles, leaf piles and old-container piles are the perfect hidey-holes for toads. If you want to have some fun, try buying or making a toad house (a toad cave is probably a better description): Dig a shallow depression and lay a board over it, or make a “tent” out of two or three large rocks. Just make sure the home isn’t in a windy spot. (Wind zaps a toad’s moisture.)
Another option is to put a clay pot on its side. Add a layer of dirt to the bottom so the toad isn’t sitting on the clay. Since toads love to burrow, they’ll like it even more if the pot is broken in half so they’re free to dig down into the ground, especially on those extremely hot days. (The best part is you can get two houses out of one pot!) You can always buy some little toad homes, too, but keep in mind the size of the “door” or hole. Many native toads are quite large and can’t fit into the petite houses.
● Some night light: You’ll increase your odds of luring toads into your yard simply by turning on a yard or porch light at night. The light attracts insects by the swarms, providing a veritable toad buffet!

● A chemical-free environment: You can’t have toads and pesticides. All amphibians are highly susceptible to toxins because they breathe and absorb moisture through their skin. Scientists and gardeners alike have seen a sharp decline in toads and frogs as pollution and chemical use increase. Even flicking cigarette butts on the lawn can repel toads. So choose organic fertilizers, and let the toads be your insect control.

You might ask, Why would I want to bring toads into my yard? Toads are actually helpful garden friends – they can eat nearly 100 insects every night. (Sadly, these creatures are dying at an alarming rate, and some are even facing extinction.) If you take care of your toads, your toads will help take care of your garden. So invite the ugly-but-princely toad into your yard. Earth will thank you, and so will your flowers and vegetables! Once toads find a comfortable home, they’ll move in and stay for years – and they’ll make being in your garden much more enjoyable for you and your whole family.
Information for this post written by Amy Dee Stephens on Learn to Grow in partnership with Lowes.

1 comment:

Permission to Mother said...

I have ugly toads in my yard, so that must mean my garden doesn't have too many pesticides and that's ok by me!