I have a real passion for the humble stinging nettle(Urtica dioicra), for me it seems to represent everything that is wrong with modern attitudes towards the natural world. Being common it is unloved by the traditional gardener, who’s familiarity fuelled contempt has led them to brand this wonderful plant a ‘weed’ – a term of abuse which tells us more about the vanity of man than it does about the plant in question.
But the nettle has everything that a good plant has to offer. It is a breeding ground for some of our most beautiful insects, it is a wonderful source of vitamin C, it has medicinal qualities, it can be used to make rope, cloth & paper and, last but definitely not least, it makes good beer!
With this in mind I have decided to keep a ‘Nettle Diary’ which talks about the plant and it’s uses as the year progresses. Spring is a good time to start, because spring is when the nettle is at it’s most delicious!
The young plants, which are only a few inches high during spring, are very succulent. With long sleeves and a pair of gardener’s gloves trim the top most leaves from the plant. These can be used in many ways including…
As A Vegetable – boil for 4 minutes and use like spinach
Nettle Soup – boil leaves for 10 minutes, strain leaves and make into a purée. Add chopped onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, swede, parsnip, vegetable bouillon (or veg stock cube), ground black pepper and mixed herbs to a pot of water and boil ’em up.
Nettle Tea – take a handful of leaves and rub them gently to bruise them. Add to boiling water and wait 5 or 10 minutes depending on taste. Strain and drink hot, yum.
There are many more ways to consume nettles and we shall discus further recipes and other uses throughout the year. If you’d like to know more then contact Warren via greenjacker[at]gmail.com
Until next time,
Part 2 now online here