THIS AMERICAN BULLFROG in her pond has dismayed the Duchess of Dirt.

Bullfrogs and raccoons in the garden

Drat! There is another American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) in our pond.

Drat! There is another American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) in our pond.

Had thought we dealt with all of them just over a year ago. It is a big one but luckily not to its full potential size of eight inches and 1.8 pounds. And thankfully, only the one…so far.

It is possibly becoming a problem…this bullfrog appearing in our pond. It means there are smaller ones still developing, methinks.

In their normal, more southern habitat, metamorphosis takes just a few months. Here in their new northern range, it can take up to three years. So we may have jumped the gun in thinking we had gotten rid of all them last year.

Bullfrogs have a prolonged breeding season in spring, lasting up to three months. Females can lay between 20,000 and 25,000 eggs.

Mind-boggling compared to the measly 5,000 to 6,000 eggs our native red-legged frog lays.

They are voracious eaters, preying on frogs, fish fry, snakes, turtles, rodents, as well as insects, which are the usual diet of ranid frogs. And being particularly unpalatable to many of the local frog predators…you get some idea how effectively this invasive non-native frog species is rather successively taking over the general landscape and calling it home.

Be forewarned, however. If you do find American bullfrogs in your pond it is illegal, provincewide, to release bullfrogs anywhere in the wild.

• • •

Not just bullfrog problems around here lately either.

The raccoons have been making regular nocturnal visits the last few days to check out our grapes…picking the ones that suit their tastebuds. The varmints have already scooped the very few plums we had at the very top of our dying Italian prune plum tree earlier this summer.

Bad enough the coons snapped the branches in the plum tree reaching for the fruits but now they are knocking the apples off the spartan tree climbing up to get onto the grape arbour. At the other end of the arbour, the varmints are using our rain barrels and the downspout to climb up.

Nice of us to provide such great natural ladders, don’t you think?

Because we have seen what these critters can do with too many grapes in their systems…both front end and back end…we now remove the fruits before we get to that stage.

Better to bury the grapes in the compost pile…away from the house…where the animals cannot do too much damage.

I know, I know. How dare we remove the grapes before they are ripe?

But truth be known, like almost every other fruit on this property, this grape is not of our planting. And it is most definitely NOT a table grape.

Pucker power extraordinaire…even at full ripe if we can get them to that stage before the coons come visiting. And waiting to a frost does little to improve their palatability.

Wine, you say? Well, let’s just say John and I are better at drinking wine than making it.

• • •

One last positive note…weather is co-operating for the end of the season. Harvesting in the veggie garden continues. Still lots coming on.

But I am also looking around the rest of the garden at what seeds are ready to be harvested. Need to gather some more varieties while everything is still dry. (Remember: don’t forget to label your seeds as you collect each type!)

And it is also time to collect the last of the herbs to be dried and put away for winter use. Sun is weakening a bit so fall is a good time to gather a few sprigs of thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage, savory, tarragon, etc.

Tie each one up separately with a bit of string and hang in the window to dry. Scents up the room delightfully.

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca and her column appears every second Thursday in the Record.

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