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Snakes and Toads

“Mick Jagger is about as sexy as a pissing toad.” Truman Capote

I was removing a final patch of grass and forget-me-not from the garden today when I accidently picked up a toad that had burrowed deep in the soil. I held it while the kids examined the plump amphibian. They stroked its belly and played with its webbed toes while it patiently sat in my palm. We set it free under a canopy of leaves by the garden and went back to work.

Last week we found our old friend the garter snake heading into the stone border around my wife’s herb garden. This snake has been with us for about three years now. The first year we never found anything other than an old skin suit left behind by the garter. Last year though we finally found her warming on the rocks and the cover for our oil spout, my daughter who was three years old at the time took the above photo of the snake. It is really amazing to see how much longer the snake has grown in the span of a year. Over Easter weekend I noticed a baby snake scurrying into the rocks that surround our lily of the valley patch. I was happy to see the future guardian of our plot.

After finding natures little helpers in the garden I thought it might be nice to point out the benefits associated with our friends the snake and toad. Of course snakes like to eat toads but with that said they also eat a number of insects and will swallow those pesky slugs. Toads on the other hand thrive on insects and if the conditions are right they can literally eat thousands of them, up to three times their own weight. They certainly beat using hazardous chemicals in your patch.

This is exactly the reason that our family works our gardens in the manner that we do. Part of the goal is to be in harmony with the environment as much as possible. We take pleasure in watching bees heavy with pollen drift from flower to flower, or digging a shovel full of soil and finding it alive with twisting worms. In my opinion it is a blessing to find these creatures in your garden it tells you that you are creating a healthy habitat.


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