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Forraging :Uses for stinging nettles?

Discussion in 'Hook, Line and Sinker' started by Freedom_Spark, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. Freedom_Spark

    Freedom_Spark Gardener

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    Not quite sure if this is the right place for this post but anyone have any ideas on what to do with an abundance of stinging nettles that have grown at the end of my veggie plot? I've had a few days to spare so I've been getting into major weeding/cleaning mode and although I was going to get a lend of dad's strimmer and just blitz them all with it it seems a bit of a waste if they have any potential uses, I heard someone say they are good at speeding up/ enriching compost so that can account for the first 70,000 of them :loll:However, is there anything I can make with them, I've read a few things online about using them as a vegetable (similar to spinach apparently) or making nettle tea which is supposed to be good for skin/hair etc, is this just the ramblings of some hippy or has anyone used nettles for something?

    Any tips welcome and feel free to tell me to get hold of that strimmer if I'm being silly.
     
  2. Phil A

    Phil A Gardener

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    Hi Freedom,

    Don't eat them at this time of year as the Devil has wee'd on them.

    There is some sort of chemical change in them after june.

    Still good for shampoo or making liquid compost.

    I've got a mate on here who wants to know if you are a Jeff Buckley fan ?
     
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    • clueless1

      clueless1 member... yep, that's what I am:)

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      I've made nettle soup many times. Its delicious. But usually in spring. Just soak them in cold water for an hour, this kills the sting. Then boil them with potatoes, lentils, broth mix or whatever to make soup (oh, you discard the chewy stems).

      Another potential use, my dad reckons they're loaded with nitrogen in a plant useable form. He reckons if you stick them in a water butt and leave them to soak for a couple of weeks or so, the resulting mucky water does wonders for his plants. He always gets a good crop so he can't be too far wrong.

      I didn't know that Zig. I must admit I usually use it in spring time when the fresh new growth comes, but I'm sure I've had it a few times in autumn and failed to die so far:scratch:
       
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      • Freedom_Spark

        Freedom_Spark Gardener

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        Oh thanks Ziggy, I was going to try some nettle tea tonight but it sounds like it's a bit late for that! Yeah Kyle pm'd me I'm a massive Jeff Buckley fan so it's been nice to talk to a fellow fanatic :) Btw, your glasshouse looks amazing so far!

        Thanks for the tips clueless, the plant food especially sounds very interesting.
         
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        • Freedom_Spark

          Freedom_Spark Gardener

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        • Dave W

          Dave W Total Gardener

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          If you are really keen you can extract the fibre from the stems and use it to make a cotton like thread. This used to be done by a process called retting which in essence left the fleshy parts to decay leaving only the stringy bits. Recently it has been found that this can be done faster via use of enzymes and the nettle clothing industry is growing quite quickly.

          Interesting article here >
          Nettle yarn - the novelty natural fiber for non-stinging clothes
           
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          • hans

            hans Gardener

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            Liquid fertiliser so easy to make. The pong, as Jiffy said, is the main problem although after watering it on it quickly dissapears or perhaps I get used to it. I am not encouraged to use it on flowerbeds by the house.
             
          • shiney

            shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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            I've used nettles in soup and it was very good. didn't know about not using it this time of year but don't think I have ever done so because it looks too manky and the seeds are enjoyed by the birds. I usually leave a section of nettles for the butterflies. :dbgrtmb:

            Nettles and Wildlife - National Be Nice to Nettles Week

            Nettles are also a very good dye and the colour produced depends on which mordant is used for fixing it. They range from Beige/gold to various tones of green.
             
          • Phil A

            Phil A Gardener

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            Thats good that you are both fans:dbgrtmb: Glass house will look a lot better when I can afford to finish the top:dbgrtmb:

            According to Richard Maybey, nettles become bitter and more laxative after june, but i've read somewhere that you can get over that by cutting down a patch & then waiting for the new growth to come.

            Only experiment if there is toilet paper in the bathroom:WINK1:
             
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            • Freedom_Spark

              Freedom_Spark Gardener

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              Good luck with finishing it, I love the shape! :dbgrtmb:

              Interesting because this patch is new growth from those I cut down a while back, the tea may be back on the menu!

              Thanks for all the helpful replies everyone, I'll keep some for the butterflies as well.
               
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              • clueless1

                clueless1 member... yep, that's what I am:)

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                That rings a bell Zig. My uncle, who used to be right into his foraging, told me to only use the fresh young leaves. But I now remember he said you get two crops a year, but only if they are cut back to promote new growth.

                Separately, I used to have some herb books (before my dad pinched the best one:) ). Alongside the description of each wild herb there were warnings where appropriate. For nettles, it said that a chemical in the roots is a common allergen (affecting an estimated 40% of people), with the effect of causing nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhoea. It did say that the top side was ok though.

                Still, it does look awful when its gone to seed.
                 
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                • Phil A

                  Phil A Gardener

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                  Thats very interesting Dave, didn't know about the roots.:dbgrtmb:

                  If everyone is ok with it, i'm going to move this thread into "hook line & sinker" as we said from the start, that would be our forraging section as well as fishy, seaweedy stuff:thumbsup:

                  Any objections, and i'll move it back:)
                   
                • miraflores

                  miraflores Total Gardener

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                  I have just read that 1 kilo nettles can be left immersed in 1 litre water, left for one day, and it will be an effective aphid deterrant when sprayed.
                   
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                  • miraflores

                    miraflores Total Gardener

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                    • Phil A

                      Phil A Gardener

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                      Wow, is that like a hairshirt with added pennance Mira ?:heehee:

                      In the West Country there is a cheese called Yaarg.

                      It is wrapped in Nettle leaves & is very nice.

                      I taught the kids to take a bite and then say "YAARG" to counteract the stings:heehee:

                      They have also launched a version wrapped in Wild Garlic leaves:dbgrtmb:
                       
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