Five Ways To Make Use of Nettles

Nettle

Come May, everything in the garden just takes off – and that includes

the weeds. It is best to keep on top of the weeds throughout the spring so that you are not faced with a mammoth problem when the summer rolls around. Sometimes it can feel as though we are waging war on weeds. But how about an attitude adjustment? How about learning to love some of our most common weeds and making good use of them?

Nettles, for example, might have an annoying habit of hiding under other plants and stinging you when you least expect it but they can also be rather useful in your home and garden. What is more, those lucky people who have nettles in their garden must have soil rich in phosphates and nitrogen. Here are five uses you could make of the nettles springing up in your garden:


Eat Them or Drink Them:


Did you know that nettles are really good for you and rather delicious? They can be wilted down and used in any recipe where you would use spinach, or can be blended into a tasty soup. Don't worry, they loose their sting when steamed for a few moments so there is absolutely no chance of a sting on your tongue unless you are crazy enough to eat them raw. As well as eating nettles in a wide range of recipes, you can also brew them into beer.


Feed Them To Your Leafy Veg:


Nettles can also be used to feed your leafy plants. Making a nettle tea will allow you to create a plant feed for those plants that have high nitrogen requirements. Just make sure that you wear gloves and keep well covered while you are picking them!


Use Them As A Compost Activator:


Due to their high nitrogen content, nettles are also great for speeding things up in the compost heap. Just make sure that you only put the leaves and not the roots in, unless it is a hot composting system. Also, be sure to mix the nettles in well with other compostable materials otherwise the nettles can have a tendency to get a bit slimy.


Use Them To Attract Butterflies and Ladybirds:


If you can make a small space for nettles in your garden then you will be benefiting a number of species. A number of butterfly's caterpillars rely on nettles as their primary food source so if you want some butterflies in your garden then leave the nettles in the corner be. Ladybirds will also thank you for a nettle-filled wildlife corner.


Leave them as Aphid Traps:


One of the reasons that you will find ladybirds as well as hoverflies and other predatory insects on nettles is that they are attractive to aphids. If you leave some nettles then these can be used as a trap crop, sacrificing themselves and keeping the aphids busy so that your ornamentals can remain safe.


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