Sunday, 16 September 2007

Nettle (urtica dioica)

For those who took home some of these very useful plants here's a bit of detail.
Stinging nettles
A perennial growing to a height of 50-150cm. It has branching underground shoots, which grow into erect stalks. The leaves are heart shaped with elongated points and strongly toothed margins. Each leaf is covered with forward pointing, stinging hairs and contains a virulent juice composed mainly of formic acid which causes a burning sensation on your skin.
Sheets and tablecloths were fashioned out of nettle fibre and these fibres were also used as threads.
In olden day, whipping with nettle was practised as a relief for rheumatic pains.

Nettles have an important nutritional value as they are rich in Vitamin A & C. The formic acid is destroyed during cooking, so the nettle can be eaten as a vegetable in the same way as spinach – only the tops should be used. Nettle tea is a tonic rich in vitamins and essential minerals. Also used to make beer and wines.

Nettles are an excellent addition to cattle fodder and poultry feed as they are rich in chlorophyll, iron, nitrogen and calcium.

Compost benefits from the addition of nettles.

Liquid Nettle Brews are also very useful. Here are some of Maria Thun’s recipes.
Add 10 litres water to 1kg fresh nettles leaves. Leave 24 hours then pour through a sieve Helps guard against larval and caterpillar infestations. Apply 3X over plants within several hours????
NETTLE JANCHE Forcing manure
Add 10 litres water to 1Kg fresh Stinging nettles. Leave until the leaves have rotted. (8 days- 4 weeks) depends on temperature.
This is a powerful manure. Use diluted 1:9 for fine spraying on soil or 1:40 as a liquid fertiliser.
Use on slow growth caused by cold weather or pest infestations.
In a trial Maria Thun observed that treating roses, currants, fruit trees on 3 consecutive evenings reduced pests and often also moulds and fungi.
NETTLE JUNCHE Stimulating Growth
Make as above.
Dilute 250 mls in 10 litres water for watering tomatoes, cucumber, and spinach.
Dilute 500 mls in 10 litres. Stir 15 minutes. Fine nozzle. Use on potatoes and currants after harvest.

The Australian Admiral butterflies lay their eggs in the nettles so the larvae can feed on the nettles.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Bob is so please to have nettles growing in the garden. Thanks for the brew recipes.