Newest Review: ... providing them with nettles by eating all the greenflies and other aphids that are doing their best to ruin your plants. Nettles can als... more
Eat them, drink them, wear them and use them to grow flowers!
Member Name: janharper
Advantages: Great fertiliser, free natural dyes and vegetables
Urtica Dioica is the common stinging nettle. We have all seen these growing up to six feet tall in summer and been stung by them. It is the sap in the plant that causes urticaria, or nettle rash.
There are 45 species of nettle and these plants support more than 40 species of insect, including some of the most colourful butterflies. The stinging hairs on the nettle are so effective that few animals will graze on them. This makes them perfect for insects to live and breed on. They are protected from predators. Tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies love nettles. Ladybirds and some birds are agile enough to be able to eat the large numbers of greenfly that inhabit nettle beds.
So, that patch of nettles in your garden is vital for wildlife preservation. A wildlife garden wouldn't be complete without nettles.
Nutritionally the nettle is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium and iron and the young shoots can be cooked in the same way as spinach and used as a vegetable. The Northumberland Cheese Company produces nettle cheese. Animals from benefit from nettles too as once the stems are dried, the sting loses its power and they can be mixed with feed for cattle and horses.
The fibres from mature nettles have also been used to weave cloth and boiling the leaves produces a natural green dye, while the roots give a yellow dye.
If you are an organic gardener rearing nettles will give you a great crop of ladybirds which will take care of green and white aphids in your garden. The leaves can also be used to pack fruit. Put it them between the layers to help fight off mould.
Brew strong nettle tea and spray it on your plants. It makes an excellent fertiliser and don't forget to add the nitrogen rich leaves to the compost heap.
When you've finished doing all this try making nettle beer.
The nettle is a useful plant to grow in your garden and cultivating a patch can be very worthwhile.
Summary: Nettles are more useful than most people know!
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