Giving the Toads a Happy Home with Earth, Water and… Garden Furniture?

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There was a toad that lived in my mother’s garden, and I always considered myself lucky to happen to catch a glimpse of him by a rock before he hopped back into the dense flowers and vegetables. When the summer rain was fresh on the plants, little toad would always be hanging out by the edge of the garden. I always wondered what his home looked like, and why he lived in the garden instead of the wilderness. Now that I have my own garden, I wanted to see more of little toad and other amphibians. They truly are amazing animals, and it is such an honor to be able to provide a good habitat for them so I can sometimes look in on their life and wonder what it’s like to be a toad!

After a bit of research into what type of real estate really does it for amphibians, I found out I need to provide shelter, hibernation spots, and a breeding area. Implementing a few structures with earth, water and garden furniture will really give amphibians a nice place to settle down in. Here are some tips for making your own garden toad-friendly, whether it’s because you like the amphibians or just their positive effects on gardens.

Rocks

Toads love to hide under rocks, so scatter a few throughout the garden in piles and border any paths or boundaries. You can also use wooden logs for this. Either way, it adds some more design to your garden and comfort for the toads. Some toads will also hibernate underground, digging deep below the freezing line, but others will rely on cracks in wood or rocks because they aren’t as good at digging.

Interestingly enough, Scientific American maintains that many frogs will freeze to the point where their heart and lungs stop beating in the winter. The level of glucose in their vital organs acts as antifreeze and the heart and lungs will start working again once the temperature warms back up.

Ponds for mating, hydration, and hibernation

Even if you don’t have a pond, you may still get a happy toad to live in your garden as they are a dry-land equipped amphibian. If you want more variety such as frogs or salamanders though, install a pond to prove the adequate hydration and ecosystem they require.

Putting a small pond in or near your garden isn’t as hard as it sounds. I just dug a hole in the ground, covered it in strong plastic, and waited for the rain to fill it up. You can also fill it with water from the hose, but you will want to make sure the chlorine has fully evaporated by the time any amphibians come near it. If you pick an area of low ground where pools form naturally, the rain should be fine to fill it up.

A pond also provides a hibernation spot for aquatic frogs. They will partially bury themselves in the mud below the surface and take in oxygen from the water.

Make sure the pond is far enough away from chemically treated lawns, poisonous trees or other plants that pose a threat to amphibians and reptiles. Instead, proactively install plants that will proved shelter and attract the kind of insects amphibians enjoy.

Garden furniture for hiding

I really like the wild, overgrown look of vines twisting into everyday objects, so I decided to incorporate furniture into my garden to provide shade, depth of space, and a dense hiding spot for the amphibian residents of the garden. I found a really cool, intricate looking wrought iron bench and planted Black-eyed Susan vine transplants, weaving them through and around the bench. I like to think that the frogs, toads and salamanders love the natural looking fixture as a potential hiding spot.

 Blackeyed Susan Vine

I also added another bench to the front-most outer side of my garden, this time using a cute little wicker design with cushions for actual sitting. Depending on the season, I leave this piece of furniture protected with a garden bench cover for the most part, and wait for it to rain in the early evenings. Once the rain ceases I go out to the garden and quietly uncover the bench for some amphibian (and rainbow) viewing relaxation. It’s probably one of the best things ever!

Amphibians are magnificent creatures, but they’re not the only garden-beneficial animals. What is your favorite garden wildlife, and how do you attract them to your yard?

How to Prepare Your Vegetable Garden for a Harsh Winter

According to Game of Thrones fans everywhere, winter is coming. And while this may mean snowmen, Christmas decorations and mulled wine for some, for the keen gardener it can mean fingernails bitten to the quick and sleepless nights worrying about cabbages.

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Image credit: vegetable garden

Well, maybe we wouldn’t go quite that far – but after all the effort you’ve put into your vegetables, you won’t want your hard work to go to waste for next year. Fear not – we’ve got a guide on how to make sure that your vegetable garden is both ready for next year and useful throughout winter. Here’s how…

Harvest

First things first, take in all of the vegetables that are ready to be harvested and make the most of them. Make sure that you cure and store your produce properly, and you might just end up with a stash that will last all winter long!

Clear out

After you’ve collected all of your delicious vegetables but before you get started on the chutney, it’s time to clear up your yard. If you’re tempted to put this job off, think of it as a treat for your future self when you’re planting more vegetables in the spring. You’ll be glad you put the groundwork in when May rolls around! While you’re there, prepare perennial vegetables for survival by removing old foliage and stems.

Make your garden useful throughout winter

Though it may seem like all plants are dead in winter, there are a few vegetables that will actually be ready for harvesting when it’s very cold outside, so with a little preparation and clever planting you can make your garden produce food until late in the season.

  • Carrots are actually sweeter when harvested after the frost. Plant them around late August or early September and cover them with straw for a little insulation.
  • Plant kale and collards in mid-August and harvest young leaves from October onwards.
  • It’s best to plant Spinach around four to six weeks before the first frost of winter – again, cover with straw, then harvest in late winter or early spring.
  • November is the ideal time to plant overwintering onions.
  • Don’t have space in the pantry for all of your produce? Don’t worry – your garden can act as a fridge. Bury cabbages, with their roots still attached and a marker in the soil above so you don’t lose them, and dig them up when you fancy bubble and squeak. Potatoes and carrots will also keep when buried in the garden, but add some straw over the top to protect them.
  • Give your vegetables lots of compost and a layer of mulch, for nutrients and protection. And, while the soil is a great protector for vegetables – especially root vegetables – it won’t hurt to give them a little water before a big freeze, when it may be difficult for your plants to reach water. However, be wary of over-watering, which can lead to cold, soggy roots and very unhappy plants.

Plant a cover crop

You may not be using your whole garden to grow overwintering vegetables, so to keep your soil ship shape and ready for spring it’s a good idea to plant a cover crop such as buckwheat or rye. These plants will suppress weed growth, feed bees and keep soil in place, then they’ll act as a ‘green manure’ for your garden by breaking down and providing your soil with lots of lovely nutrients.

About The Author

This guest post was written by Ricky Peterson. Ricky is a keen gardener and loves spending time outdoors, he works at Swallow Aquatics, who sell various pond and garden supplies. Ricky also likes to travel and loves hiking and climbing.

Growing vegetables from kitchen scraps

If you’re fond of gardening and you want to do something fun you can always use kitchen scraps to grow new vegetables. It’s not a difficult job, and you can ask your kids to help you. The activity can be extremely engaging, not to mention that you’ll have the chance to improve your kitchen’s overall décor.

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Grow your own spring onions, fennel, leeks, and scallions

To plant the vegetables mentioned, you need the white roots. Your next step is to put the white roots in a pot and add some water, but pay attention because they shouldn’t be totally immersed in water. Put the pot on a window sill so that the sun can have access to it. In the next 3 to 5 days, you’ll see them grow. Take as much as you need and let the roots in the pot. Don’t forget to change the water once a week.

Lemongrass

The same applies to lemongrass, which means that all you have to do is put the roots in a pot, add water and place it near a sunny window. Note that lemongrass might need a little more sun than the vegetables mentioned above. After approximately seven days, you should see new growth. As soon as this happens, you have to move the plant into another pot, and add soil. Then, place it again near a sunny window.

Celery, Cabbage, Romaine Lettuce, and Bok Choy

You have to do the same as with the scallions. Remove the leaves, but not completely. Leave about one inch and face the white roots down; put them into a container and add water. Just like before, pay attention not to immerse the whole plant in water. These roots also need sun and constant fresh water. After a few days, you will notice that your plant will start sprouting, and in no more than 10 days, you will have to put it into soil. Obviously, the leaves must remain over the soil. In just a few weeks, you will have the possibility to harvest your produce. Lettuce, cabbage and celery will certainly compliment your kitchen’s décor, not to mention that they’re delicious.

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Ginger

First of all, you have to know that growing Ginger is a really easy job. All you need is a chunk of Ginger that you will put in soil. Unlike the vegetables mentioned above, this one prefers filtered light. What is more, apart from using it in the kitchen, you can also utilize Ginger as a nice ornamental plant.

Potatoes

Everyone likes eating potatoes, especially children. So now you have the possibility to grow your own potatoes, whatever variety you prefer. The essential thing is for the scrap to feature those “eyes” growing on its surface. Every piece that you intend to use should have one or two eyes. Cut the vegetable into pieces, and let them in room temperature during the following days. Then, you have to plant them in a nutrient-rich soil. Hence, you need to add some compost into it prior to putting the potato cubs with their eyes up in the pot.

Garlic

To grow garlic you need just one clove. Put it in soil with the root facing down, and let the pot in a place that features warmth and sunlight. Then, the plant will grow and you will see how new shoots pop up. Once the plant is fixed into the soil, remove the shoots. After this, a new tasty garlic bulb will come out.

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Mushrooms

If you want to grow mushrooms, make sure you do it in a pot and not in your garden, because otherwise, you will have a hard time trying to protect your mushrooms from other fungi. If you plant them in a pot, you will have the possibility to move them from one place to another in order to offer them the conditions they need. For example, you can try putting the mushrooms in a place that features warm filtered light throughout sunlight hours, and keep them in a place that features cool temperatures during nighttime. In order to grow mushrooms, you have to remove the head, and then put the stalk into a pot filled with soil. Note that the top of the stalk must remain at the surface.

Author Bio: Peter Smith wrote the awesome article. He is a part of site http://www.kitstone.co.uk/ where you can get a wide range of furniture collections. He is also a freelance writer who writes about everything fashion, health, home décor etc.