If you do not have a pond in your garden, you do not know what you are missing. Ponds do require some maintenance, but the benefits out way the work required to maintain the pond. I installed a small pond with a liner years ago. The pond contains goldfish and some water plants that I enjoy. Over the years, one of the benefits that I have received from my pond is what I call the "Toad Patrol". Each year around April, the toads come to my pond and lay their eggs. The male toads arrive first and start singing for their mates. For around two weeks they sing night and day. After they have mated, they all leave and in the pond are strings of toad eggs. Two years ago I enlarged my pond area with two additional preformed ponds. One preformed pond contains no fish. I move the toad eggs to this pond as a tadpole nursery. Hatching of the toad eggs occur within 3 to 12 days and the pond will be filled with hundreds of tadpoles. The tadpoles group together and feed on plant life in the pond. They will remain in the pond from 40 to 70 days depending on the temperatures before they change to toadlets and leave the pond and move out into my gardens. The baby toadlets are about the size of a small pea when they leave the pond. In about two to three years these toadlets will become mature enough to mate in the pond for future generations. Most will not make it to become adults.
I know that many people would not want these warty cold blooded creatures in their gardens, but they serve a purpose eating all the insects and slugs that damage my garden plants. I seldom have slug or snail holes in my hosta leaves due to the toad patrol. If you would like to have toads in your garden, here are some suggestions.
1. Install a pond that has sloped sides that allow toads to easily enter the pond and toadlets to easily leave the pond.
2. Do not use chemical pesticides in your garden or use chemicals in your pond water.
3. Toads like slow moving water. I turn my pumps off during the time I have tadpoles to keep them from getting into the filter system.
4. Add some pond plants to your pond for breeding purposes. The toads will attach their eggs to the plants.
5. Female toads prefer to lay their eggs in ponds without fish.
6. Tadpoles feed on plant material like algae. I do not clean my pond algae from my nursery pond during this time. The tadpoles feed on it and help maintain a good balance in the pond. When the tadpoles leave the pond they will now be feeding on animal material.
Did you know that one American Toad can eat up to 1,000 insects a day! They prefer snails, beetles, slugs and earthworms as part of their diet. Most animals will not eat toads due to a defensive chemicals in the toad's skin. This chemical is toxic to garden animals, humans and pets. Make sure that you always wash your hands after holding a toad and "no" they will not give you warts. However, don't be surprised as your toad population increases in your garden that you might see a garter snake arrive in your garden. Garter snakes can eat toads. Just remember that a garter snake can also serve a purpose in your garden! Maybe that will be a post for another day.
The Creative Gardener