Why weeds shouldn’t be considered weeds

Eurydema ornata on wall rocket
Red Cabbage Bug (Eurydema ornata) on wall rocket.

The recognition of bees’ importance in food production has become widespread in our society. These hardworking insects are now protected until the pollen falls from their legs.

Not really. However, many measures, such as planting bee-friendly plants in gardens or on balconies, only benefit honey bees, which are not threatened with extinction because they are kept and bred as livestock. It’s important to remember that wasps and beetles are also pollinating insects.

Wasp on dyers woad
A wasp rests in the inflorescence of dyer’s woad.

Wasps, flies and beetles are also important pollinating insects.

While these measures are a good start, we must not forget about the many other insects that need food and habitats. These creatures are struggling to survive in our often empty and design-oriented gardens, where we waste resources on ecologically worthless plants like phlox, green lawns, and other ornamental species that are not native to the region. The insects that live here cannot feed on these plants, yet we expect them to pollinate our fruit trees and vegetables in the spring.

In these barren gardens, bees, bumblebees, beetles, flies, and butterflies can only find food in the spring, if at all. However, these insects live longer than just April to June, and their larvae also require food and shelter or a place to hibernate.

sulfur beetle on wild carrot
The Sulfur Beetle (Cteniopus flavus) feeds on pollen, it is found on umbellifers, here on a wild carrot.

If you want to harvest sweet cherries and crisp apples, it’s necessary to provide habitat and food for these insects throughout the year. This is where weeds come in. These pesky plants are actually the food source for many of these creatures, some of which rely on only one type of plant to survive.

Wild perennials are perfectly adapted to our climate and require little maintenance. Some even flower in the winter, which is crucial for wild bees that can fly at temperatures as low as 2-5°C.

Bee on chicory
A wild bee pollinates the flower of a chicory.

Encourage a partially weed-friendly garden.

Many gardeners find it difficult to accept a little untidiness in their gardens, believing that every plant must have a designated spot. However, I have a tip for those who struggle with this mindset: let only a few square meters go wild, allowing plants to choose their own locations or settle in naturally. Even small weed corners are readily accepted by insects and other animals, making your garden a more diverse and natural ecosystem.

Weed-friendly gardening has numerous advantages, not just for the animals that call your garden home. Instead of constantly weeding and scarifying, you can comfortably spend time in your garden with delicious food and a glass of wine.

* I am not a phlox hater, I have phlox in my garden. Among dandelions, white clover, wild rocket …

Mating ladybugs on sage
Mating ladybugs on the flower buds of the Meadow Sage.