I have been doing quite a bit of weeding the past week. I have to say that I am very happy that I’ve managed to avoid the many nettles along my fence-line where I’ve been working. I’m happy because they call it a “sting” when you touch them – but it pretty much hurts the entire day afterwards! I was on high alert this year to avoid being stung, after being tortured last year. Now that I’ve avoided them, and weeded all around them, it’s time to go and pull those nettles out, carefully, to use them.
Nettles are a pain to touch, but they are also wonderful to have as an ingredient for making homemade liquid feed for your garden. Frugal gardening at it’s best! Free liquid fertilizer! It’s easy enough to do, too. Fill a barrel/container half way with nettles, cover with water, and leave for a couple of weeks to ferment. Dilute to “weak tea consistency” (maybe they use that description because they drink so much tea in Ireland?). This should be about one part nettle to ten parts water. Spray on leaves of plants to use as a natural pesticide. You should spray on dull, non-sunny days so as not to scorch plants. Use as a plant feed every couple of weeks.
I’m going to reference Pamela Whitaker from Groundswell again. I spoke of her in a previous post. She gives wonderful Organic Gardening workshops in Carlingford, County Louth, to kids as well as adults and is overflowing with useful information. From her workshop I learned that Nettles supply nitrogen, magnesium, sulphur and iron. Sounds good!
I did learn a few things through trying this last year. Be aware that this liquid feed gets stinky! Make sure you have it off to the side. I had to move mine mid-summer last year to keep the smell at bay! I’ve read of putting the nettles in a sack of some sort to avoid the mess it makes in the water, but this doesn’t bother me and I want to keep it as simple as possible.
I enjoy my homemade garden. I hope you do, too!