Green Thumb

My garden was a wreck until yesterday. Six months of neglect had left our four raised beds in dire need of weeding, raking, and an overall renovation of sorts. Leaves had taken over the whole area which was behind a fence to keep out the cat and the dog – dachshunds are diggers, in case you didn’t know – and ensured a safe living environment for all the critters that had taken refuge in the abandoned mess of dirt. Each time I happened upon one (sometimes with my bare hands – I eventually wore gloves), I carefully moved it to an area in which I was finished working, so they wouldn’t be too far from home and could hopefully find their way back. I am convinced most animals are smarter than people and don’t require GPS.

The family of spiders, however, was another story. They were pretty big. They were also furry. I don’t deal in the business of handling and moving big, furry spiders. Of course, they are still alive and well in the garden and I insisted they move themselves. I waited patiently, mostly because I had no choice.

Here are some before cleanup shots:

Armed with a rake and not much else, I fearlessly attacked that mess. Within the first fifteen minutes, I’d already stumbled upon my first garden friend of the day, a southern toad (my best guess at identifying this guy). He was about the size of baseball.

Such a serious look on his face.

My encounter with this toad went much better than my last run-in with a toad a few years ago. A very large toad showed up at my front door and decided to hop himself into my foyer and squirt some nasty liquid all over the place.  I knew only a little bit about the poisonous cane toad so that morning ended in me calling a vet for advice on how to effectively clean the tile floors. I really didn’t want my dogs or cats to lick some toxin out of curiosity/stupidity.  After explaining the size of the toad (HUGE!) and the color of this “secretion” to the vet, he laughed and assured me the toad had simply peed.  I still don’t see what’s so funny about my question. Yet this reminds me of another time when a random dog jumped into the backseat of my car and peed on Elle’s science project.  He quite literally appeared out of nowhere, took a wizzer in my car, and left. How does this stuff happen to me? And more than once?

Anyway, I let the toad go about his business until he left the safety of the fenced-in garden and disappeared.  About three hours later, I found another one.  This one was noticeably smaller and much feistier.  I immediately took on a maternal role and made the little toad a new home in a glass jar, filled it with a handful of dirt and covered it with some surface roots for shade.  Finally, out of guilt, I tossed an old planter over the jar to keep the little guy from cooking under the sun.

I’m nowhere near finished preparing the raised beds for planting. The blackberry and blueberry bushes both seem to be thriving underground (they’re being transplanted next week so they will have more room to spread their roots) but the weeds and unidentifiable sprouts are horrendously overwhelming.  Our fig tree showed some promise in the fall so I’ve decided to keep it exactly where I planted it last summer.  All in all, I had a vigorous five-hour workout today.  I can honestly say that is the hardest I’ve worked, physically, in years. It felt good.  And the dirt smelled good.

Here’s an after shot (please, please, PLEASE, I beg of you to notice the difference – see, no leaves.  You can actually see dirt):

I’ll be back out there later today to tackle some more wild roots and get my hands dirty again.  At least yesterday, I could see progress.  I hope I can do just as much, if not more, in the coming days and weeks.


About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
This entry was posted in flora and fauna, Florida, gardening, Jacksonville, outdoors, photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Green Thumb

  1. ~Matt says:

    The farthest bed looks straight…the rest?!? I think someone let the beers do the engineering for them…

  2. Sharon says:

    Your toads are adorable! 🙂 (loltoads, anyone?)

  3. Dena says:

    I KNOW! The little one looked like it was snuggling into my hand. So cute, but not so good at snuggling.

  4. Pingback: Toad in a Frog | Two Girls and a Road

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