Toads like loose, moist soil in winter

GARDEN Q&A

October 29, 2005|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

This summer a toad took up residence in the flower pot on my front steps. In September, he disappeared. On Sunday I was pulling up old mums next to my front steps and the toad fell from the roots. I felt bad for disturbing him, so I put him back in the ground with the mum. Did I do more harm than good?

Toads overwinter in soil below the frost line. They prefer nice loose soil with leaf litter and moist soil. They especially like the soil under log piles, brush piles and rocks for hibernating. There is a good Web site by local author Robyn Rhudy with information on all pond-related wildlife at fishpondinfo.com/animal.htm.

Checklist

Stop feeding the fish in your pond. The fish cannot properly digest food during cold weather.

Shred fallen leaves with a lawn mower or string trimmer to hasten the breakdown process. Leaves should not be allowed to completely cover turfgrass over the fall and winter.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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