How to make nettle leaf plant food
LOVE YOUR NETTLES
From an old article ‘Be Nice to Nettles’
Stingers are a vital part of growing up, giving us one of the most painful early memories of close contact with nature.
It is much later in life that most of us realise just how valuable they are, especially for some of our most beautiful wild creatures.
Without stinging nettles, peacock, small tortoiseshell and red admiral butterflies would have nowhere to lay their eggs, so do please find a space for nettles somewhere in your neighbourhood.”
Professor Chris Baines
Environmentalist and Broadcaster
Nettle leaves can be used to make an easy to use, if somewhat smelly, plant food. Best of all it's free!
To make your nettle fertiliser you will need only four things:
- Nettles! - obviously.
- A watertight container - a large bucket is adequate.
- Water, and
- A wait, sorry a weight. Not essential but makes the process easier as I will explain.
First take your nettles. These are best as young stems but can be taken at any time. Quicker results are obtained if the nettle stems and leaves are bruised.
Then crush them. This can be done by scrunching the stems in gloved hands or by placing the stems on a freshly mown lawn and using your mower to chop and collect the nettles at the same time. The addition of a few grass clippings that results from using this method does not affect the quality of the finished product.
Immerse in water. Stuff the crushed stems into your bucket. Place your weight on top of the stems. You may have to use a little ingenuity here - I have used a broken paving slab in the past. A brick and a piece of wire mesh cut to suit the cointainer serves equally well. Fill the container with water sufficient to cover the nettles and...
Leave to brew. This is where the original wait comes in. You may also consider placing the bucket away from the areas in the garden that you use most as the soup tends to get rather smelly.
Dilute to taste. After around three or four weeks the liquid should be ready for use. The mixture should be diluted until it is tea coloured - usually around 1 part liquid to 10 parts water. Water liberally around or on the plants and see the benefits.
Repeat until winter. Continue to top up your container with more leaves and water through the year. As autumn sets in put the remainder of the feed and the sludge in your compost heap. Give your container a rinse and store for next year!