Our polytunnel (hoop house) is filling and as the cuttings and seedlings grow, they provide a rich diet for pests that are beginning to colonise.
When plentiful food is joined by warm, moist conditions the pests multiply!
So, I was delighted this week to find a big, fat lady sitting in the polytunnel as I moved pots and trays: a female common toad (Bufo bufo).
All amphibians are under threat in Britain, including our toad. But they are also easily overlooked or seen as being so ordinary that their presence is not recorded. When John Osborne, Nottinghamshire's County Herpetology Recorder surveyed our site last year he told me that there were no records of toad in our area.
Well, here's the proof that they are around!
Female toads are bigger than males. Males and females only spend the short breeding season in water, where the females lay their long strings of spawn which hatch in tad (or toad) poles. Toads have a terrestrial existence for the rest of the year and are truly 'the gardeners' friend', hunting down slugs and other harmful invertebrates. Toads do not cause warts, but the bumps under their skin do hold a nasty substance that stops predators eating them.
I think they're wonderful creatures and warmly welcome them into our polytunnel, where they provide free organic pest control.