Uses for Nettles

How often have you spotted nettles growing happily in your garden? Once again you find yourself grabbing them by the stems with gloved fingers, giving them a damn good throttling.

STOP! They’re not so bad! Read on…..

Now I realise how invasive nettles are, but if you can spare a patch for them in your garden they can be used to make really scrummy things like refreshing tea, wine, beer or soup and used the same way as spinach. Mixed with water, nettles make a nitrogen-rich feed for other plants. They are also the number one plant for certain species of butterfly and ladybirds to lay eggs, ladybirds and larvae are ferocious predators that munch on pests which of course is great news for gardeners. Nettles are fussy about where they grow, a healthy patch of nettles growing in your garden is an indicator of rich fertile soil. Nettles also make a useful addition to the compost heap by speeding up the decomposition process (but don’t use the roots) for the compost bin. Certain species of butterfly depend on nettles to reproduce, they are the primary food source for their caterpillars. Health remedies are made from nettles too. If you’re interested in finding out more about uses for nettles, you might be interested in the book 101 Uses  for Stinging Nettles by Piers Warren http://www.wildeye.co.uk/stinging-nettles/index.html

The following image is the main reason why I will always leave a patch of nettles growing wild….

 

Peacock butterfly caterpillars munching on nettles in my garden, nettles are their food plant and lets face it, butterflies need all the help they can get right now.

Sprouts, Caterpillars and Butterflies

Sprouts

Some of the sprouts are ready for picking now, the rest will be ready in a few weeks time and later sowings should be ready just in time for Christmas dinner. The sprouts are looking very healthy indeed, the same cannot be said for the tops. Cabbage White butterflies were very busy in the summer with our sprouts and cauli leaves, I don’t mind, I’m all for butterfly conservation and probably one of the few vegetable gardeners that welcome their presence. I might grow a few cabbages for them next season, I don’t eat them anyway.

Caterpillar damaged sprout tops

The beautiful summer that we had brought many butterflies to the garden. Which species of butterflies did you spot this year?