How to - Gardening with Kids

Warty creatures

Welcome a prince (or princess) into your garden.

Toad-Friendly Neighbourhoods
Releasing a few toads into your yard may seem like an easy way to add toads to your garden, but established toads have already decided where they want to live. Instead, entice the young locals looking for a suitable home to hop into your yard; provide what they can't resist-moisture, shade and food-and they'll stay. For example, toads find soil amended with plenty of compost particularly appealing; it's moist and perfect for burrowing into during the hottest part of the day. And, as an added temptation, compost harbours many of the tasty morsels toads like best such as millipedes, sow bugs and earthworms.

Another enticement is a moist area where dew collects, such as the shade of a lush, verdant plant. Make it even more tantalizing by placing a medium-size terra-cotta pot on its side, an inch (2.5 centimetres) or so sunk into the soil. A board held three or four inches (eight or 10 centimetres) off the ground by two rocks will also do the trick. Provide a man-made puddle by tucking a clay saucer filled with water under some shaggy herbs.

Make A Toad Abode
Transforming a terra-cotta pot into a toad house is an easy and fun summer project for kids: turn a six-inch (15 centimetre) or larger pot upside down and chip a small area out of the lip for the doorway. Then decorate with latex paints-perhaps windows, hearts, polka dots, grass, posies-children have wonderful imaginations. Place it in a shady garden spot and it won't be long before a very happy toad hops in.

Create A Tadpole Nursery
In spring or early summer, if you have a pond or ditch near you, you can easily gather a few tadpoles to raise in a shallow but large, clean plastic or glass container or a small wading pool. Fill the container a few inches deep with clean water. (Rainwater is best, but if you use tap water place it in sunlight for five to seven days to allow any chlorine to dissipate.) Add a large, flat rock so the tadpoles have something to climb on as they develop lungs, and place the container in a shady spot such as under a tree or bush.

Feed the tadpoles a pinch of lettuce every day: boil a few leaves until soft, then drain, chop and freeze in an ice cube tray; defrost as needed. Remove any leftover food from the day before. (Decaying food pollutes the water.) Once the tadpoles develop legs (the time it takes depends on the water temperature and time of year), feed them insect larva harvested from atop a stagnant pool of water or dried ant eggs from a pet shop. One night, close to dawn, when the air is moist and the ground is damp, young toads leave their ponds and scatter over the countryside. If you've created conditions attractive to them, perhaps a few toads will make themselves at home in your garden.

Related Web Sites
Froggy Page
Images, sounds, clip art and little known information about frogs and toads
www.frogsonice.com/froggy/

Canada's Aquatic Environments: Amphibia
Scroll down to Toad Family to learn more about the American, Canadian, Fowler's, Western or Great Plains toad
www.aquatic.uoguelph.ca/amphibians/amphib/

Frogs and Toads
Habitat and life cycle, species & identification
www.naturesound.com/frogs/frogs.html

Frogs and Toads in Color and Sound
www.naturesound.com/frogs/frogs.html

Frog and Toad Identification
cmnh.org

Toads!
Information about toads around the globe
www.icomm.ca/dragon/toads.htm

Frogs and Toads
Stories about frogs and toads written by British children
web.ukonline.co.uk/conker/pond-dip/frogs.htm

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