Nettles are one of Nature’s gifts to us, and our soils.
A nitrogen lover, and nutrient collector, it is one of the best Spring Tonics, a perfect wild food, emergent young leaves being packed full of micronutrients, perfect to boost our health after a long winter.
We can manage patches to give us young leaves for more of the year, but once into the summer it’s not advised to eat the leaves.
This is the time that the caterpillars will make best use of them.
Before they flower is the time to collect and rett the longest stems for fibre.
Wait until the seeds develop to be harvested in August, and this is a good time to collect up plants that getting lanky, in the way, in a “wrong” place.
And the goodness of all that has accumulated in each plant will feed the compost or can be crop and dropped in useful areas.
Nettle soup : pick young leaves
Nettle greens : use young leaves like spinach
Nettle leaf crisps
Nettles as mulch – nettles are a perfect crop and drop mulch, bringing the wonderful nutrients back into the soil as they decompose.
Nettles as wildlife food especially several butterflies like the peacock butterfly, comma, and the small tortoiseshell.
Nettle fibres – the tallest stems taken before the flowering starts.