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Bees, Wildflowers and Veg-patches

Why bees and wildflowers are useful in a vegetable patch
Hopefully, everyone is now aware that we need to look after our bees and pollinating insects if we:
– believe that biodiversity is vital for our planet,
– want to keep a high level of variety of foods in our diets,
– want to support farmers who grow crops that are mostly reliant or even dependant on pollinators.

Why bees and wildflowers are useful in a vegetable patch

Click here to read this article in French

Hopefully, everyone is now aware that we need to look after our bees and pollinating insects if we:

  • believe that biodiversity is vital for our planet

  • want to keep a high level of variety of foods in our diets,

  • want to support farmers who grow crops that are mostly reliant or even dependant on pollinators.

It is important to realise that not all foods rely on pollinating insects. But would you really be happy to live without foods such as strawberries, currants, figs, gooseberries, apples, apricots, cherries, blueberries, mangoes, peaches, plums, pears, raspberries, nuts and, perhaps worst of all for some people : chocolate and coffee!

So we need to look after our bees and pollinators. However, bees are not just ‘Bees’: Bumble bees, Honey bees, Solitary Bees, Masonry Bees, Leafcutter bees … the list is almost endless. In fact, there are almost 1000 species of bees in France, nearly 2000 in Europe, and over 20 000 in the world!

All these bees need different habitats and all of them work hard to build nests and raise young. To do this they need to feed, and feeding involves searching for nectar and pollen.

What can we do to protect our native bee populations?

There are three important steps that we can take to protect our native bee populations:

Plant bee-friendly flowers:

Planting flowers that are native to your area can provide important sources of food for bees. Choose a variety of plants that bloom at different times throughout the growing season to provide a continuous source of nectar and pollen.

Provide nesting habitat:

Many bee species nest in the ground or in dead wood, so leaving some areas of your garden undisturbed can provide important nesting habitat. You can also install bee houses or nesting boxes designed for specific types of bees, such as masonry bees or leafcutter bees.

Reduce pesticide use:

Pesticides can be harmful to bees and other pollinators . Use even organic products sparingly and follow label instructions carefully. Consider using non-toxic pest control methods or planting pest-resistant varieties of plants.

Allowing wildflowers to grow around, or even in your veg-patch can be of enormous benefit to bees, other pollinators, and of course to us humans. It’s a win-win situation for several reasons:

Pollination:

Wildflowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators . These insects play a crucial role in pollinating vegetable plants, enhancing their fruit and seed production. By introducing wild flowers, you can encourage a diverse range of pollinators to visit your veg-patch and increase your overall yield.

Natural pest control:

Some wildflowers, such as yarrow, dill, and marigolds, act as natural pest repellents or attract beneficial insects that prey on common garden pests. For instance, marigolds emit a scent that deters aphids and that’s why we use them near the tomato plants. Dill attracts ladybirds that feed on aphids, mites, and other harmful insects.

Wildflowers in the veg-patch at La Rabine Jardin, Neulliac, FranceBy incorporating wildflowers, you can create a more balanced ecosystem that helps control pests without relying heavily on synthetic pesticides.

Soil health and fertility:

Many wild flowers have deep roots that help improve soil structure and prevent erosion. They can break up compacted soil, allowing better water infiltration and root penetration for your vegetable plants.

Additionally, some wildflowers, like clovers, have nitrogen-fixing abilities. They host symbiotic bacteria in their roots that convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that plants can use, therefore enriching the soil with this essential nutrient.

Biodiversity and ecosystem support:

Including wildflowers in your veg-patch promotes biodiversity and creates a more resilient ecosystem. It provides habitats and food sources for a variety of beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife.

A diverse ecosystem can help reduce the incidence of plant diseases, increase overall plant health, and create a more sustainable environment.

And finally – Aesthetics and enjoyment:

Wildflowers can add beauty and colour to your vegetable plot, making it more visually appealing. They can also attract birds and butterflies – the beautiful swallowtail butterfly lays it’s eggs on wild fennel plants (or your carrot leaves) which the caterpillars then devour voraciously!

This all enhances the overall experience of your garden making it a real wildlife haven. So why not add some colour, beauty and utility to your veg-patch – plant some wild flowers 🙂

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