Monday, August 12, 2013

nettle nurturing

i suppose majority of us can remember at some stage in our very early years our first introduction to the stinging nettle. carefree and happy, playing unsuspiciously in the great outdoors  then the next minute, tears, shock and wailing at the nasty stinging green plant. or something like that anyway. Either way, the fact of the matter is that everybody knows about stinging nettles. Thankfully though as with most things to do with our so called modern day 'weeds' and their rise to fashion in the food kingdom, nettles have had a wonderful resurgence into the mainstream and have started to shake that old misconception. As a nettle nurturer I was thrilled to welcome the arrival of a self seeded nettle in the very tidy row of leeks not too long ago. imagine my delight therefore, when trawling through the paddocks on the creek bed the other day, there, under the shade of a river red gum and behind the army of mallow, was an entire crop of these misunderstood friends... 

so after a half hours picking and plucking i was only mildly stung (happily so albeit), and had at my disposal bushels of nettles ready to go. enter, google. it seems to me the more i research plants, especially 'weeds', the more illogical it seems that these plants are classified as 'invaders' and enemies of the garden. I understand in terms of farming and cropping why they really can become a hassle as they undermine the quality of the yield, but in terms of the home garden/vegetable garden, the benefits they bring so far outweigh the negatives its seemingly ridiculous that they were ever shunned in the first place. for example in my little list of nettle pros, for us humans they offer an ingredient that is packed full of nutritional content that can be used the same way as spinach, steeped into a tea that is said to help asthma, hay fever and general aches and pains, blended into a soup and even stinging nettle beer as seen on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage. cheers to that. for le jardin, anything a ladybird is fond of, so am I. apparently it's their preferred go to plant come the time in the season they lay their eggs. so, if I can encourage an army of ladybirds to erupt in my garden come aphid war time i'll happily keep strategic nettle bushes throughout the whole garden. Really, the list just goes on in favour of the humble misconstrued nettle. thank goodness for the resurgence of the weed...

anyway, leaf plucking ensued and finished it was time to start steeping my tea, snap freezing some of the leaves for a later date and brewing my liquid feed for the garden which will be rich in nitrogen. 
the tea was delicious. here it is steeping in the misty morning sun and here's to nettle nurturing from now on.

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