Weleda Garden - Grasp the Nettle

June 2013

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Have you noticed how prolific the Stinging nettles are this time of year? They seem to have enjoyed the recent weather conditions and are in full flowering mode. We love nettles at Weleda! It’s the perennial nettle (Urtica dioica) that proliferates at The Field and we recently harvested 3kg of whole flowering plant (including the roots) to make a medicinal tincture. This tincture goes into one of Weleda’s own herbal remedies, prescribed by doctors, for anaemia.

Sometimes we just harvest the nettle flowers, which is always a double-gloved challenge for the gardeners. The flowers are dried and are used in another of our remedies for regulating and balancing the menstrual cycle.

Nettles bring many benefits to the garden; they’re an important food plant for the Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies – lift a leaf and you may find a gang of caterpillars lifting their heads at you, trying to scare you off! Nettles are a great compost activator as they are rich in nitrogen – just roughly chop and add to your compost heap. You can also make a useful tonic feed for the garden – fill a bucket with chopped nettles, cover with water and leave for a fortnight (best put a lid on as it gets quite smelly). You can then dilute 1:10 in water and feed your plants. We use the perennial nettles in our biodynamic compost preparations and they’re also a good companion plant, so its always worth leaving a patch of nettles in your garden; you can even eat them by making a soup from the fresh young leaves in Spring.

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The annual nettle (Urtica urens) is also a useful medicinal plant. It’s an ingredient in our Combudoron Spray, which is used to treat insect bites and stings; the Weleda gardeners always have some to hand at this time of year!