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.

It’s All Growing Well

Sprouts and cauliflower seedlings

Just a quickie update on the vegetable garden, sowing, seedlings and digging. We are still sowing like the clappers, all the seeds are germinating well so far, still waiting on the courgettes to make an appearance but so far so good.

Tomatoes and chillies have been sown and the tomatoes have already started to sprout. Runner beans will be started off in small pots this weekend, I don’t want to get caught out with a late frost or risk having the seed beans munched in the soil like last year.

The sprouts and cauliflower seedlings are doing very well outside in the mini greenhouse, some of the seedlings have their first set of true leaves. I have started off a second sowing of broad beans, the other plants are outside and doing well, even in the frost. We did lose some of the taller plants, but, I think that was my fault for allowing them to go too stringy before planting them out. We had to start the broad beans indoors because none of the vegetable beds were ready for planting.

The sweet corn seedlings are really doing well on the sunny windowsill, they will be planted out as soon as the risk of frost is over. The onion sets are coming along great as well as the garlic. No major dramas so far.

Clearing the veg plot of nettles

The vegetable garden is coming along slowly but we are getting there. We are still having a hell of a battle with nettles on the second half of the plot. Our very friendly neighbour asked us why we don’t just spray the blighter’s and be done with it, I politely answered that we want to be as organic as we can, otherwise what is the point? We may as well not bother trying to grow our own if we are going to pump the soil full with nasty stuff. He probably thinks we are barmy of course and cannot see the point in us out there, every spare hour we can grab, digging like crazy people possessed.

Anyhoo, we now have 5 lovely vegetable beds all fed with lovely well-rotted manure and organic compost, ready to nurture our seedlings and sowings. Oh, that reminds me, must get the carrots, beets, peas and parsnips in soon!