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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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May 25

Indicator of a Healthy Garden

Posted on May 25, 2018 at 8:30 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

garden toadWere my eyes playing tricks on me? What appeared to be a brown mottled rock stood in the path of the weed eater. Yet there was something different about this particular rock that caused me to stare. And then there was movement. The rock was lumbering away from me—not a rock at all but a huge toad. 

I’d been serenaded by his musical ribbits in the spring evenings, but he failed to share where he hung out in the garden until this week when he appeared twice. Or were there two toads?

Either way, this is one happy gardener. Toads are the ultimate beneficial anyone could desire to find residing in their garden. They can eat well over 10,000 insects, slugs and snails in a season. 

Their dining choices may not be selective and probably include some beneficial insects. However, the ratio of bad to good is worth it as their diet also includes snapping up houseflies, moths, larvae and wireworms that destroy potatoes, onions, beets and carrots. 

Upon researching more about this gardener’s friend, I learned they are among the most intelligent amphibian species. Did you know you can train them to come when you call and will eat insects or worms that you caught? However, those captured feasts must be moving to capture the toad’s interest. 

Other facts that surprised me are: 
  1. They can live up to 30 years in captivity.
  2. They are found in all 50 states.
  3. They are territorial and often return to the same hunting area each night.
Toads like to dwell in cool, damp places. A bonus for them is having a small, shallow pond close by. You might consider combining the slurry of mud the butterflies and mason bees need for hydration, and slopping it into a place where the toad can take a dip on occasion. What an oasis that would be … provided the toad does its hunting at night and the insects visit their mud slurry in the daylight hours!

Meanwhile, while you ponder the advantages and disadvantages of mixing two waterholes, this gardener will attempt chorusing with this beneficial to lure him out of his hiding place for a photo op.

Have a great weekend and a blessed Memorial Day. 

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