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The Great Nettle (Urtica dioica) and the Small Nettle (Urtica urens) are much more than weeds that have no business in the garden. The variety of applications from tasty soup to diuretic tea to natural pesticides make the apparent weeds a valuable part of our gardens. Nettle should therefore be harvested and used in many ways. We give you valuable tips for harvesting and use at hand.
The large nettle (Urtica dioica) is a strong, herbaceous plant. As protection against predators, stinging hair grows on the leaf stalks, releasing siliceous substances on contact, leading to wheals and itching on the human skin.
- Growth heights between 30 cm and more than one and a half meters
- angular stems with opposite leaves
- Flowering period from July to October
- strong root growth, evolves impressive hosts
- Flowers develop inconspicuous flower spikes
The small nettle (Urtica urens) is an annual plant that often appears on rubbish dumps, near manure piles or in vegetable crops.
- Leaves are smaller and more rounded than in the large nettle
- grows in groups of individual plants
- preferably nitrogen-rich soil
- Growth height 10 to 60 cm high
- Burning hair burns stronger than that of the great relatives
- multiplies by wind pollination.
Tip - Add young nettle leaves to the popular vegetable smoothies. You get a fresh, healthy juice, which also tastes very delicious.
Substrate and soil
The large nettle can be applied as seed directly into the soil. However, as it proliferates very quickly through its own rooting, planting an existing or shared host is much easier. To limit the growth-friendly plants, the soil should be regularly loosened around the plant. The excess rhizomes (root shoots) are then pulled out of the ground, leaving them confined to a certain area.
Tip - Since especially peacock butterfly and small fox feed almost exclusively on stinging nettles and these butterfly species are considered rare, you can easily tolerate a few caterpillars.
Planting and harvesting
Basically, the harvest of nettle plants should not be done without gloves. Especially in the small species, the contact with the burning hair is often accompanied by painful wheals and a severe itching.
Large and small stinging nettles can be harvested at almost any time. In spring, the young, delicate plants in the kitchen serve as a welcome vegetable for many dishes.
In order to defuse the stinging hair, so that the leaves can be used without remorse, it is advisable to cut off the plants at normal budget quantities first with long gloves. Then they can be placed in a kitchen towel or towel and simply rolled up with the fabric. Something wrestle also loosens the last heads, in which the burning silicic acid is. Now the leaves can be safely processed further.
Harvest time and use
The foliage is used in the kitchen for tasty food and as tea. Here, the harvest is recommended from early spring, from about May, with the very young shoots to flowering. Flowering stinging nettles do not taste so good and can easily become fibrous.
Oil can be made from the seeds. Nettle oil is a high quality vegetable oil, which is rarely produced and offered.Who would like to produce it, should only harvest the ripe seeds, so from about October. It has a greenish color and a smell reminiscent of fresh carrots.
The dried nettle straw can be processed into substances. Nesseltuch was already made several thousand years ago from the bast fibers of the large nettle. The harvest time is also October, then the plant is fully grown. The long, extremely tough fibers are ideal for making solid fabrics, fishing nets or ropes. Before the cotton was used here, nettle cloth and linen (flax) were widely used.
The roots are used as tea. They should not be harvested until the second year of growth, harvest time is late autumn. The roots are dug out, cleaned and cut into small pieces. They can be used dry or immediately fresh.
Both stinging nettle species serve as natural pesticides. A manure produced therefrom can be used anywhere in the garden without harmful side effects, but especially on vegetable or fruit plants whose crop is consumed. At the same time the nettle is an excellent fertilizer and can be used as a cold water approach or manure.
Tip - nettle seed is excellent for drying, roasting and grinding. It tastes like sesame and is an excellent addition to the meal.
Storage and conservation
Dried stinging nettles can be used all year round. To gently dry the plants, they are wrapped as a bundle with gardener's bast and hung in a dry, dark place. That can be in the basement or in the garage. The cut roots should be dried dark, an airy environment is beneficial. Storage should take place after complete drying in glass jars or a linen cloth.
Tip - The roots are not only recommended as a tea, they are also a good way to strengthen the hair roots in case of hair loss. The infusion also ensures shiny hair.
The often misunderstood and unjustly weeded nettle is a true miracle cure of nature. Whether as a remedy, in cosmetics or an indispensable helper for fertilization and pest control in the garden, it is always a natural alternative. Plant a shrub of nettles in your garden, and you have an all-purpose weapon for numerous uses. The low risk of injuring the burning hair always outweighs the manifold possibilities of the plants.
The healthy nettle can be delicious if handled properly
- If you consume them, stinging nettles will convince you with their low calorie intake (49 kcal per 100 g), their high vitamin C content (175 mg per 100 g), and they also contain a great deal of iron (2.2 mg per 100 g),
- Fresh and young, still light green nettle leaves taste really delicious: slightly nutty, a bit like flaxseed perhaps, fresh and tart and a touch bitter. Even that speaks for the stinging nettle in the garden, when collecting there are often only dark green leaves, and they taste quite bland, for many people "a little bit like grass".
- Fear of nettles when freshly used? That does not have to be, they can be deactivated quickly if you dip the nettles briefly in boiling water. If you want to add the stinging nettles to a salad, you should then lay the stems in ice water, then the leaves remain green and crisp.