Community Garden Update
by Jen Hartke, Snoqualmie Tribe Native Plants Specialist
In the Tribal Community Garden, on a sunny August afternoon, we saw what looked like a large green disc digging its way under the corner of a concrete brick. Underneath, we discovered it was a leafcutting bee carrying a section of leaf she had harvested to add to her nursery. This mother bee had already built three nesting chambers in the soil and was quickly constructing her fourth. She had rolled each smooth leaf into a tube with overlapping edges which she crushed to hold in shape. Within, she will supply each nest cell with a packet of food made of pollen and nectar, enough to last the entire lifespan of the single egg she lays on top. Since leafcutting bees are solitary she is doing all the work of building the nursery by herself. We will be mindful not to disrupt this home, and will leave the brick unturned and undisturbed until the newborns emerge in the spring.
Leafcutting bees are essential pollinators and will be beneficial to have in the garden. If you would like to encourage leafcutting bees to live near you, provide summer blooming native plants like Fireweed and Puget Sound Gumweed. They will also need a good cavity to build their nest, so leave them some hollow stems, dead wood or protected bare soil. Also avoid using chemical pesticides. If you start to notice perfect circle or crescent shapes cut out of leaves, the leafcutting bee is likely nesting nearby.
This leafcutting bee found in the Tribal Community Garden was identified by BugGuide.net as a Western Leafcutting Bee (Megachile perihirta). Just like the bees, we have lots of work to do in the garden before the seasons change.
This is the time to prune the Blackcap Raspberry (Rubus leucodermis). This canes on this plant are biennial, meaning they will last for two years. During the first year, canes only grow vegetatively and won’t produce any fruit. During their second year, they will flower and fruit and then die at the end of that season. So, in late summer we trim back all of the spent second year canes (floricanes) and tie up the first year canes (primocanes) to encourage lots of berry growth for next year.
We are also trying to keep up with the abundance of Calendula–collecting seeds, and gathering flowers to dry for teas and medicine. This herb has many uses including the ability to promote skin healing, treat insect bites and stings, and aid in digestion. When they are dehydrated and stored they can be a bright reminder of the summer season.