Nettles!!

By , May 1, 2012

As I mentioned in this post, I found nettles! This was really very exciting because now I can collect my own instead of continuing to purchase my usual dried nettles for tea. And for the very first time, I had freshly cooked nettles and they’re amazing! A mild and pleasing taste. I cooked them in some salted water, and ended up drinking every last drop of the broth too — it was thick and delicious — almost meaty. They’re so good for you, too. High in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Cooked nettles

Nettles & white beans

And I love nettles tea because it works better than an antihistamine pill for me. This was an accidental discovery; I’m allergic to bee stings, and I get honeybee and ‘mixed vespids’ venom immunotherapy shots every 6 weeks so that my body gets desensitized to the venom. Normally I get a big, itchy 3″ wide welt on each arm where I get the shot, and I take a Claritin pill the morning of the shots to help counteract that. However one day I had some strong nettles tea before my shots, along with the pill. No welt! No redness! No itchy! At first I didn’t realize it was the nettles, until another time when I’d forgotten to take the antihistamine pill and only had nettles tea, and same thing! No welt. Finally I realized it was the nettles tea, and the pill wasn’t even really necessary. So now I make sure to have nettles tea before my shot, and every day for at least about a week afterward. It’s quite magical. If you have seasonal allergies (mercifully, I don’t), you might try nettles tea!

My favorite nettles tea:

2-3 Tbsp dried nettles

~1/2 Tbsp dried mint

~1/2 Tbsp dried lemongrass

In a mug, pour 8-12 ounces boiling water over herbs, cover, and steep about 15 minutes.

So anyway, back to the fresh nettles. I couldn’t believe my luck with finding patch after patch of them, and while I often travel with an empty plastic bag (you never know what you’ll need it for!), I didn’t have one with me on the walk. However my mom had packed snacks in a bag, and thank goodness she had! Precious, precious bag. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to collect any. Disappointing!

I had an empty little sandwich baggie which I used as a glove to pick them, though still got plenty of stings on my wrists. (The stinging compounds are easily neutralized once the nettles are either boiled or dried to a crisp.) I stuffed the bag full, and also took some plants with roots and have planted those in pots outside, hoping they’ll decide it’s a satisfactory location to grow. I’ve read that nettles are particular about where they grow; you might think you have the ideal location for them — but they have the last word.

Do you cultivate your own nettles? Have any growing tips?

***

As you can see, the living room was full of nettles for a while. I ended up getting about 3 gallons, dried.

*****

3 Responses to “Nettles!!”

  1. Trish says:

    The amazing medicinal powers of nettles.
    Wow! You have done a wonderful job. I make soup with the nettles that grow in our garden. I buy them dried to make tea/infusions with, as i soon run out of the small amount that I dry! You have done a great job of drying them.xxx

  2. Moncha says:

    Hi, I wish I had a large plot, then I could have a patch with nettles. Now I have to buy my tea, but I would love to make it myself ; )
    Have a great day.

  3. Matthew in L.A. says:

    Fascinating!
    I have a yard full of nettles which I have to eliminate every year, cuz I have always considered it an annoying WEED!
    And now I read this. Hummmph.

    I have an idea for your nettles. (You did the first part, already – pulling whole plants with the roots.) The next step is to grow the plants and, rather than harvesting them, let them go to seed, then harvest their seeds for later planting.
    Another method I hear works is to plant CUTTINGS.
    Then you can try growing a whole patch of’em.

    YouTube is your friend! I found two informative vids, but neither had anything to do with harvesting seeds. The third is annoying, but it gets there (eventually). (Parenthetically, teehee, one of them is John Kohler(?) from GrowingYourGreens .com – a garden Vlogger who teaches and inspires. I subscribed to his YouTube channel and recommend it to you as well.)
    “stinging nettle as a farm crop – permaculture!”
    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2vXlEPhwBE
    “Cultivating Stinging Nettles at my Community Garden”
    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1uJqNi5Os8
    “Listen/glow in the Nettles”
    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buLEqW4JfKU

    Growing: I haven’t noticed them to be particularly finnicky in my yard, except that I did notice them in areas with loose soil. They grew wild all thru spring, then they all died off as summer came on. I guess they like it cool and damp.

    Wikipedia: Nettles (Urtica dioica)
    * en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stinging_nettle

    Good luck with all of that. Don’t forget to wear gloves!
    Ciao.
    Matt in Los Angeles, CA

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