Urtica dioica Or Common Nettle
Urtica dioica referred to as common nettle, stinging nettle (although not all plants of this species sting) or nettle leaf, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant.
Continuing with plants which have earned the bad reputation of being pest or weeds (Dandelion and Starflower) by the chemical pushing pesticides industry. I want to give our readers a different view of these plants because every plant has an important vital function in our ecosystem. If we forget these vital functions and we work against nature instead of with nature we have chaos and destruction.
Common Nettle: Food, Medicine, and Textiles!
Common nettle is nutrient-rich full of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. This plant was eaten by Native Americans additionally people scarce of food in early spring. Common nettle taste like a mixture of Spinach and Cucumber. Common Nettle is in pesto, polenta, and soup. If you are worried about the prickles of this plant, please note that soaking and cooking removes the prickles making it safe to eat. However, after the stinging nettle enters its flowering and seed-setting stages, the leaves develop gritty particles called cystoliths, which can irritate the urinary tract (1). Additionally, the dried plant used as a herbal tea and animal fodder.
In Australia Common Nettle has been used to treat internally (as tea or fresh leaves) disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, locomotor system, skin, cardiovascular system, hemorrhage, influenza, rheumatism, and gout (1). Additionally has been used around the world in other treatments to promote lactation, treatment of rheumatism and to improve fatigue and circulation.
Fibers from the nettles produced in the same purpose as linen. The fibers have also been used to produce rope as well. The fibers are more coarse compared to cotton. However, there are a lot of pesticides used in cotton unlike the common nettle plant pesticides are hardly used.
Phosphorus-rich and Nitrogen-rich soils
Let’s talk about soil!
I love soil!
When these so-called “weeds” pop up in your farms or gardens, the soil is trying to tell you something!
Common nettle is important as a pH bioindicator. Being able to read the landscape and understand that the soil has acid when the plant is growing.
Common Nettle: Compost Activator
Nettles contain a lot of nitrogenous compounds that make great compost. They will also provide magnesium, sulfur, and iron to your compost. Also, the addition of common nettle to your compost will accelerate the breakdown of matter into a robust hummus. Consequently, a great companion plant for herbs, peppermint, broccoli, and tomato.
Common Nettle Friend or Foe?
I love the common nettle; it is one of my favorite plants. Depending on who you are, you may not appreciate this plant as much as butterflies and I. The common nettle is the main food source for many butterflies and moths. Additionally, common Nettle produces a very valuable macerate. I will go into macerates in depth on another blog post.
Consequently, you may be like the carrot fly and be more of a foe to the plant. Common Nettle can naturally repeal a lot of pests from your crops and, attract beneficial insects. Do you have chickens? Common Nettle is one of the few plants that can tolerate, and flourish in, soils rich in poultry droppings.
On the other hand, it spreads by abundant seeds and also by rhizomes, and is often able to survive and re-establish quickly after fire.
Still a Foe of Common Nettle?
Are you still a foe of common nettle? Please do not jump on the chemical treadmill and try to kill them with pesticides. There is a chemical free solution to remove the plants them. First, let me say that mowing can increase plant density. Regular and persistent tilling will greatly reduce its numbers.
Rootstock should be dug up as thoroughly as possible when nettle patches are small. Destroy the collected material. Repeated hoeing will exhaust the rootstocks. Continue to cultivate in the spring and autumn seasons. Common nettle cannot tolerate regular cultivations at rhizome depth (2).
Please DO NOT contribute to the Chemical Pollution that is destroying Our Earth! There is always a solution within Permaculture for a Greener Tomorrow!