Be nice to nettles week 15th-26th May 2013
‘Nice’ isn’t the first word that comes to mind when thinking of stinging nettles, but these native plants really do deserve more affection. This week is ‘Be nice to nettles’ week and aims to spread the word of how important nettles are to the UK’s wildlife.
Not only are they a sign that your soil is rich and fertile (that’s where they grow best), they’re a vital food source for some of our native insects and birds. Peacock, tortoiseshell, red admiral and comma butterflies as well as native moths depend on nettles for the growth of their larvae.
You can use them to make nettle tea, soup (the ‘Be nice to nettles’ website has a rather nice looking recipe) and it can be used as a substitute for spinach. It’s a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, trace elements and several vitamins too.
Here are some of the other benefits and uses of nettles:
- Dried nettle leaves are said to work as a natural anti-histamine
- The German army apparently used cloth made from nettle fibre to make soldiers’ uniforms when there was a cotton shortage
- The juice of the stems and leaves produces permanent green dye and the roots produce yellow dye
- It makes a great plant food, adding minerals to your plants as well as deterring pests and preventing fungal diseases
- The nitrogen in nettles helps to break down woody material in compost heaps
- Nettles are now being prescribed to treat allergies, arthritis and prostate diseases
Take a look at the Be nice to nettles website for more information on nettles and events taking place up and down the country.