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Garden habitats for frogs
I seem to have created the perfect habitat for my frogs. It’s not a large garden, marsh or meadow, but a tatty grow bag from last year, screened by willow edging and topped with dead foliage. It’s an absolute eyesore and I hate it, but to my frogs it’s five-star accommodation.
Last July, I responded to a Freecycle email from someone who’d filled in her established pond and razed her entire garden to the ground, prior to a redesign. It was no longer a safe habitat for frogs, and those she’d found she’d caught and kept in a jar, ready for anyone who could give them a good home. I had intended just to take them to the local park, but they were all babies (and, I imagine, fairly traumatised), so I took them home. When I released them they all hopped off in different directions. Some headed for the long grass, some dived under the shed and others found shelter in the grow bag. I’d see them from time to time, but generally left them alone, so I was surprised (and delighted) to find fully grown frogs poking their heads out two months later, when watering my tomatoes.
In autumn, determined that the frogs and insects would have a safe place to spend the winter, I left the grow bag in place, cutting down the tomato haulms and placing them and other plant debris over the top, for extra shelter. In January I added the branches of the Christmas tree I used to make my bee hotel. Then in March, when I’d had quite enough of looking at it and was convinced the frogs had taken shelter elsewhere, I set to dismantling and removing it, only to find around 15 frogs buried in the compost, asleep. I quickly covered them back up and left them alone again.
Frogs residing in grow bags is nothing knew. I spoke to frog expert Jules Howard, who said grow bags make the perfect habitat because they’re damp, while the compressed soil makes them ideal for overwintering (they love squeezing into cracks and tight spaces, apparently, so will even crawl beneath the bags). The fact that my grow bag has the additional shelter of dead foliage makes it even better, as it attracts other creatures eaten by frogs, such as slugs, snails and beetles.
Seemingly, my grow bag habitat is so good, the frogs still haven’t emerged. They’re awake now (I checked), and I can hear them thumping about among the debris. And while I would love to get that ugly mess out of my garden, I can’t evict them. At a time when there isn’t so much lush foliage and long grass, the grow bag provides them with shelter and safety. They’re (probably) still too young to be interested in spawning, so they may as well stay there. I’ll just make sure I make it look slightly prettier next year, and I hope they come out before I’ll need to plant out my tomatoes.
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