The Nettle, An Incredibly Useful Permaculture Plant, by Huw Richards

Jeremie LitzlerAbout 4 minGardeningHuw RichardsNettle

Close up on a female nettle
Credits: image taken from Huw Richards’ vlog

Yes, nettle is a weed. But do you know a lot of weeds that are 10 times more useful than dreadful?

Thanks to Huw Richards for sharing his wisdom and knowledge! I wrote the following notes watching the video published on Huw Richards’ channel.

You can watch it using this YouTube linkopen in new window.

Huw details 7 reasons to grow more nettle in your vegetable garden is a great idea.

Reason #1: It attracts aphids

The nettle is great to house all the aphids that are around the crops you are growing.

So grow them close to the vegetables that aphids love.

Personal note

But I don’t like that!!!

I harvest nettle to eat and I don’t want to eat them…

I have found that soaking the nettle in water with vinegar helps to detach all the aphids off the nettle.

Use a salad spinner to finish off the aphids that might hang on tight 😃

Reason #2: A wild patch of nettle

An adult ladybug on a nettle
Credits: image from the vlog of Huw Richards

Why? To help feed the wildlife. Whom am I thinking about? Ladybugs, of course!

Ladybugs love aphids and aphids love nettle so ladybugs love nettles 😃

A ladybug larva ready for lunch
Credits: image from the vlog of Huw Richards

Also, many butterflies love nettles as it’s their main source of food.

So grow a patch of nettle right away. Go find a patch into the wild and pull a few roots or a female nettle that has gone to seed.

The male and female flowers occur on separate plants. Both flower sexes are green with yellow stamens, but the male flowers often have a purplish tinge and the female flowers tend to droop much more than the male flowers point upward.

Dig a shallow trench and set the roots just like that.

Within a few months, nettles will come out. Within a year, they will spread 😃

Tiny nettle just coming out in the spring
Credits: image from the vlog of Huw Richards

Reason #3: It’s a superfood

It contains:

  • a lot of vitamins (A, C, K, severable B type)
  • a lot of minerals, like calcium, iron
  • a lot of proteins: in 100 grams of dried nettle, you find up to 30 grams of proteins.

:::warnings Nettle sting! So wear thick gloves. But don't worry: the sting isn’t toxic. It just hurt.

Or check out the young Huw showcasing how to do it with bear hands in "How to Eat Nettles without getting Stung"open in new window. :::

Personal note

Cooking the nettle get rid of their sting.

However, simply washing the nettle with cold water or drying them won’t.

When you pick nettle, pick the first 3 levels of leaves, which are tender and less fibrous, especially regarding the stem.

The most nutritious part is the seeds. They contain vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

A teaspoon per day will help quite a lot of your health.

Reason #4: It’s a bioindicator

What a bioindicator? It’s what the presence of a wild plant in a certain area tells us about the soil.

So nettle indicates that the soil is rich and moist.

So wherever you see neetle, you’re very likely to be successful with your gardening.

Reason #5: It serves as a good green mulching

Cutting nettles in pieces prior to mulching perennials
Credits: image from the vlog of Huw Richards

Nettle is loaded with nitrogen and potassium. So cutting nettle in bulk, you can then take it and spread it over a bed to boost the soil with the nutrients it contains.

Apply it as a green mulch around the perennials’ base.

Reason #6: It works wonderfully as an ingredient for liquid feed

Making liquid feed from fresh nettles
Credits: image from the vlog of Huw Richards

The steps are simple:

  • cut in pieces the nettles
  • add them into a bucket (half full after pressing on them)
  • add water to the top of the nettle
  • set a log or a stone over it to make sure the nettles are under water
  • leave for 2 weeks
  • use the liquid feed with a ratios 1 to 10: one part liquid feed and nine parts water.

Because nettle contains a high quantity of manganese and calcium, you can use them for plants lacking those nutrients.

Reason #7: It’s a great compost ingredient

Of course, use young nettle if you don’t want them to grow in the compost. Or do you?

Nettle brings huge improvement to the garden. When you search nettle+garden on Googleopen in new window, you find 12M results!

Reason #8: It makes a great herbal infusion

To do so, cut some fresh nettle, wash them and pour boiling water over it.

Personal note

I always eat the boiled nettles after 15 min. That way, you waste nothing 😃

For more tips from Huw on this bonus usage, check out the younger Huw explaining it in "How to make a Nutritious Tea from Nettles"open in new window.

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Contributors: Jeremie Litzler