Technically it is still winter but spring is filling the air and that always means one thing to me...almost time to harvest stinging nettles. It may still be a little early but this warm spell has got me itching to get out to the woods. When I was in herb school this is one plant I got to know very well. After drinking a quart of nettle tea every night for 2 weeks, I watched my skin and hair glow and my energy sore. Nettles is definitely a healing plant so if you don't know about it, learn more and if you just forgot, now is the time to use your green allies for spring cleansing and rejuvination!
I just recieved a wonderful recipe from a friend that has been passed down for generations from her grandfather in Germany. I can not wait to try it out. (Thanks Anna!)
Stinging Nettle Liquid Manure
Stinging nettle liquid manure has balancing and healing properties, stimulates growth and chlorophyl production. Worms love soil that is fertilized with this manure.
-Use the whole fresh plant cut in pieces. (possible to use dry plants as well)
-Prepare a plastic, ceramic, or wooden pot or barrel (no metal pots). Put in as many plants as you have. Add enough water so that the plants are covered (best if you have rain water or use water that has been standing for a couple of days in the sun), cover with a piece of chicken wire to avoid small animals from falling in. Don't fill the pot to the top because the liquid will foam during the fermentation process. Let the pot stand in the sun for about 2 weeks. Stir at least once a day.
-A smell will develop and might offend your nose, so don't keep it too close to the house.
-The process has finished when the liquid has a dark color and doesn't foam anymore. Now you can cover the barrel with a lid. Dilute the liquid 1:10 or if you have used a small pot with a lot of nettle plants, 1:20 and water your garden with it.
-Other herbs to try: Symphytum/ Comfrey - lots of protein, the liquid manure is rich in nitrogen and potasium, good as tomato fertilizer (Symphatum can be combined with stinging nettle to make the manure)
-You can use all sorts of herbs combined: chamomile, mint, majoram...... try experimenting! You can also add some manure from chickens or cows (without the straw) or ripe compost.
-Use the liquid manure on your compost - that is the safest way. Otherwise make sure that you dilute it enough and don't spray over plant leaves but water the soil.
There are so many uses for this extraordinary plant.
(Feral Kevin has an inspiring clip on juicing fresh nettles, www.feralkevin.com.)
You can try making nettle soup...
If you are not familiar with this plant, get more ideas and learn how to harvest by clicking here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9ZdKdhKfcw.