The stinging nettle plant (Urtica dioica) is one of the six subspecies within the Urtica genus that is found in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.
Used in various dishes, because of their similar flavor to spinach, nettle found its way into soups, pesto, polenta, tea, and more.
This plant appears in the spring and dies down in winter. For it to grow, it requires moist soil.
The research on nettle and its health benefits on the human body are limited, but what is known is that it is rich in amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Nettle products are used to help reduce inflammation and improve hay fever symptoms. They interact with medications including blood thinners, diuretics, and lithium, but pregnant women are advised not to include it in their diet because of the increased risk of miscarriage.
Nettles are also a favorite food for many insects, many of which are extremely beneficial to home gardens, like ladybugs and pollinators. At the same time, they contain compounds like histamine, formic acid, and lectins that can serve as a natural pesticide against thrips, spider mites, and aphids.
Another widely spread usage of nettle is that of a fertilizers. As such, it’s mainly used on young plants to aid their growth. Once the plants grow, it would be for the best to turn to another fertilizer, but you can still use the nettle fertilizers with some plants such as cabbage and lettuce.
This is how to prepare it:
First thing first, you should harvest it using thick gloves because of the hollow needles of the plant which can cause stings and rushed that are harmless but still uncomfortable. Use small pruners or scissors to cut off the stalks of the nettles and pick enough to fill a five-gallon bucket.
Chop up the nettle stalks into a mulch that would fill about half of the bucket. Next, fill the bucket with non-chlorinated water such as rainwater and mix it well. Then, cover the bucket but don’t seal it and then stir every couple of hours. When you notice bubbles, it means that the mixture is fermenting.
Make sure you keep the bucket outdoors because of the distinctive smell.
Around 10 to 14 days later, when the bubbling stops, it means the fertilizers is ready to use.
Using a strainer, a funnel, or a cheesecloth, strain the tea. The solids can be used for compost, while the liquid as a fertilizer for your garden.
This is how to use it:
What you should have in mind is that this fertilizer is extremely concentrated and should be diluted with water. The ratio is 1:10, or a one cup of fertilizer to 10 cups of water. Once you prepare it this way, use it directly to the base of the plants every three to four weeks. Too much exposure can cause fertilizer burn.
Another way to use the tea is as a foliar spray, using the ratio of 1:20 (one part fertilizer to 20 parts of water). When used as a spray, nettle tea can ward off pests. However, make sure you don’t use it on flowering plants.
If you want to try this but can’t find any nettle plants nearby, you can simply buy a nettle extract and use it the same way.
In case you touch the nettle with bare skin and you get rashes, this is how to treat it properly. First and foremost, in case you are allergic, don’t try anything at home but consult your doctor.
Don’t touch the rashes but let the chemicals dry out for around 10 minutes. Then, use a tape to get rid of any needles from the skin. Use a cool compress for relief, or dab (not rub) aloe vera, creams with hydrocortisone, or a baking soda and water paste onto the area.
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