Gardeners and Their Tea – 3
Season 3 – Autumn/Winter 2019/20
As l briefly discussed in Gardeners and Their Tea – 2# Nettles which are also a weed – have many, many uses and don’t just serve gardeners and composters, but can be used medically, herbally and also be eaten so can be harvested for the table – so culinary. However – today we are looking at ‘for gardening’ and directly for composting use/fertilising use. Before l go on, here is a quick Ten Point Guide on Nettles for those interested.
I have used nettles for various reasons for years – when l used to keep animals commercially, l used to cultivate a specific part of my vegetable gardening solely for nettle growth. They were cut and hung inside the barns and allowed to dry out completely and were then shredded down and added to the seed mixes for the gerbils, alongside a host of other beneficial shredded dried herbs.
I also used to cold steep them in open air vat bins alongside rabbit poop pellets to make a seriously healthy fertiliser for the gardens. Back then l was very lucky as l was based on a pig farm which already had a lot of serious scents going on, so huge vats with either nettles, rabbit poop or both simmering away was nothing. It was an incredibly richly powerful nutrient mix which achieved highly productive results for gardeners.
I am contemplating growing some this coming season so l have my own crop that are not infected with chemicals from passing cars and growing them in horse buckets – haven’t told Suze that yet, but they’ll be around the back. Nettles like mint are a highly invasive plant and need very little encouragement to grow ……….anywhere!! There are of course huge benefits to nettles – such as they make great foliage areas for butterflies and contain an abundance of food sources for caterpillars – so having a nettle presence means butterflies will head for those rather than perhaps one of your more prized plants … a sort of mawahahaha moment!
Also aphids love nettles – so, well just saying – gardeners will know what l mean, but also Ladybirds love nettles and we all love them, l welcome an army of Ladybirds anyday over an advancing army of whitefly or red mite!
You can use nettles to enrich your soil, should you wish to grow them direct in your beds – just remember at the end of each season to dig them and their ROOTS up, as they don’t need any encouragement to stay. Once dug up and fetched out, chop them up [clip them] and add to your compost heap as they are great activators as well as accelerators for the whole decomposition process. Make sure to chop them up and dig them in to your heap, and not just leave them in one massive clump, because they are like grass and can become incredibly slimey and remarkably offensive to the smell!
Also a word of warning – if you run a hot compost heap, you needn’t worry, however if you don’t and you place the nettles into your compost … de-root them, otherwise they will simply seed in your heap!
Now, if you don’t wish to add them to your heap, then l would further suggest steeping them for around a month or so and turning them into nettle tea. They are superb for the more bushy vegetables and plants.
Chop the nettles up, or pending the size of the bin/container you are using just stuff them in and cover with water and a brick or two and leave for roughly a month and let them steep – but like with the ‘weed teas’, don’t let this be sited too close to the house or neighbours as the smell is rich – really rich, if the neighbours are funny, offer them some seriously powerful nutrient endowed nettle fertiliser!
Here are a couple of links for you to view should you so wish. When l start making, growing and cultivating my own batches, l will make another post but that’ll be a while yet, so enjoy these below 🙂
Next Time – l’ll tell you about Comfrey Tea.
Anyway l’ll take my leave of you now
Thanks for reading everyone, till the next time …