We gathered young stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) today. There is a space at the end of our garden that we leave wild. The bugs and butterflies love it. We love the nettles that grow there and use them in various ways. Today we gathered them for tea, two types of tea. The first tea is for us and the second for the veggies we are going to grow this year.
For our tea we snipped the top four leaves off the nettle plant and put them in a pot. Later we cleaned them, dried them and put them in the bottom of the rayburn to slowly dry out. Nettle tea is so nourishing and we like to drink it regularly. It's a really easy way to enjoy the goodness provided by nettles. To make tea I put a couple of teaspoons into a teapot, add hot water and let it brew for five minutes, then pour. My children enjoy it and I love it that it is safe for them to drink and so nourishing.
The second tea we are making will feed the plants. We use the remainder of the nettle plant after we have snipped off the top new leaves for our own use. The remainder goes into the plastic tub and is topped up to almost full with rain water and left to sit for around two to six weeks, depending on how hot it is. A sunny position will speed up the process considerably. After that we pour the tea through a sieve to remove the plant matter which we add it to the compost heap. Then we dilute the liquid (one part nettle tea to ten parts water), put into a watering can and pour onto the soil around the plants. The plants become stronger and provide heavier crops. A warning - this nettle tea stinks, not just a little bit but rather a lot!
Stinging nettles contain 17 vitamins and minerals including calcium and vitamins C, E and K. I drank it during both of my pregnancies because it is high in iron and helped me treat low iron levels the natural way. (I have been told it nettles have uterine-stimulating properties and therefore it may be wise to avoid drinking many cups of nettles in the first three months of pregnancy) Nettles are also good as an anti-inflammatory. I have heard about people using them to treat allergies such as hay fever.
I am not a qualified doctor and I am not recommending you use nettles to treat yourself. I am just sharing with you what I do with them and why I like them so much. As with all herbs please be sensible and safe and if in doubt see a qualified herbalist.
I plan to gather more nettles next week (the tips only) to make nettle soup, mixed with enough cream and garlic, I am sure it will taste delicious.