“I-Spy” Raspberry Rambles

Ramble ONE- Raspberries

My garden book says that raspberries

… grow like weeds, literally.

That is no exaggeration. We planted raspberries in one raised garden box last spring and ended up with three this spring (there’s another one in the back of these two).

The garden guide also warns:

Raspberries can be hard to contain in a single area, because they spread by underground “runners” that will start popping up in the yard, in your landscape beds, and in your bedroom closet.

Keeping them under control is not hard, but it requires yearly root pruning. Plan to edge along the perimeter of the bed each spring and summer and remove escaping shoots. If you see any new shoots pop up in an unwanted area, weed them out as soon as possible.

From the book- “Food Grown Right, in Your Backyard,” McCrate & Halm

I don’t have the heart to “weed” yet.The raspberry variety we selected, June or Summer-bearing, sets berries on 2-year-old-canes. I suspect many of the renegades are runners that popped up in a small way last season because they are producing berries.

Once the fruit is picked, efforts to better control the crop will begin.  I dread to imagine that raspberries could become another plant bully… but, they did crowd out room for other vegetables this year…

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Ramble TWO- Cross Orbweaver Spider

The garden, forest edges, and riparian corridor in and around our homesite provide habitat for Araneus diadematus. That’s, uh-RAY-nee-uhs dye-uh-dem-AH-tuhs, if you need Latin pronunciation assistance like I do. In Latin, Araneus means “spider”; diadematus means “crown” or “decorated with an ornamental headband.” This species of spider is commonly known as the Cross Orbweaver.

Usually, I avoid spiders. But this time- lighting, a macro lens on camera, and participation in an “I-spy” mission brought me closer. Perfect timing! A web was in the making.

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In about the same amount of time it takes me to go to the grocery store for food, a spider can complete the construction of its web. That’s about sixty minutes, or so.

05-31-15_cross_orbweaver_spider_b

After spinning its web, the spider will wait on or near the web for prey. On the web, a spider positions itself head down- ready to sense any vibration on the web… the signal that prey has been trapped. Then the prey will be wrapped in silk and stored by the spider for food.  

05-31-15_cross_orbweaver_spider_c

Ever wonder what becomes of webs? Heres the surprise answer. Imagine that!

The spider typically eats the web daily-  thus reabsorbing the proteins and water it expended to build the web, and in doing so, reuses them when a fresh web is made.

By the way, if you’ve never stopped to watch a spider spin a web, keep an eye out. If you get the opportunity, take the time to observe. It’s an astounding thing to witness.

Ramble THREE- The Pollinators

HONEYBEE-the first that comes to mind when I think of pollinating insects.  There were plenty of these hard-working, never sleeping, nectar-gathering insects buzzing about the raspberries.

05-28-15_honeybee

Did you know?

  • To make one pound of honey, the honeybees in a colony must visit 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles, and expend the lifetime work of about 300 bees.
  • Honeybees are the only insects that produce food for humans.
  • Honey is the ONLY food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including water; and it never spoils.
  • Honeybees are responsible for about 80% of all fruit, vegetable, and seed crops in the United States.
  • Facts from the Utah County Beekeepers Association, http://www.utahcountybeekeepers.com

BUMBLEBEE– the second that comes to mind when I think of pollinating insects. Not numerous, but a welcome sight when one occasionally buzzed in.

05-31-15_bumblebeeDid you know?

  • Bumblebees perform a behavior called “buzz pollination.” The pollen producing structure of a flower is grabbed in the bumblebee’s jaws while she vibrates her wing muscles. The vibrations dislodge pollen from the flower, and is very beneficial in the cross-pollination of tomatoes, peppers, cranberries, and blueberries.
  • Tomato plants that are “buzz pollinated” produce larger and more abundant fruit.
  • Facts from The Xerces Society, http://www.xerces.org

MASON BEE– another important player in the successful pollination of crop plants. These solitary, gentle, non-aggressive little bees are early spring pollinators.

05-31-15_Mason_bee_b

Did you know?

  • Six Mason bees will pollinate one fruit tree… compared to 10,000 honeybees. They are exceptionally hard workers.
  • A single Mason bee will visit between 1,600 to 2,400 blossoms daily, and pollinate over 90% of them.
  • Only the female stings when she faces serious danger, but her sting is similar to a mosquito bite. People of all ages are safe around Mason bees.
  • Mason bees are called so because they use mud to partition and seal their nesting chambers.
  • Facts from: Lewis County Beekeepers; lewiscountybeekeepers.org

We’ve come to the end of my ramblings. Please click on the following link to discover the observations others have made while out on their own “I-Spy” nature explores.

UNLESS…Earth-friendly Chroniclers: Challenge 10


6 comments

  1. That is another aspect of our diversity, Jane. In this area, it is/was blackberries that became a pest. When I was a wee lad, I lost many tennis balls on the vacant block next door. It was a case of lose the ball or get cut to shreds by the blackberries 😦 What a coward!!

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  2. I didn’t know about spiders eating the web —- makes sense, and how clever for re-using the proteins. I especially enjoyed the spider web photos for this post. They are so fascinating Jane.

    Again, I learned new, interesting information about nature, including the varying degrees of work by the pollinators in your garden.

    Like

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