Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a perennial plant that is incredibly nutritious for both plants and humans. Most people are not really happy when they realise nettle is about to take over their favourite flower and vegetables beds. Because of its creeping roots, to get rid of nettle is a challenging garden job.
But I suggest you turn this mean, stinging weed to your garden’s best friend. You can use it to help your compost or as a natural fertilizer for your plants.
Chopped nettles act as a natural activator and speed up the decomposition process in compost heaps.
The nutrients in nettle fertilizer (nettle manure) are those same nutrients the plant contains which are beneficial to the human body such as many minerals, flavonoids, essential amino acids, proteins and vitamins. A nettle leaf plant food will have: chlorophyll, N, Fe, K, Cu, Zn, Mg, Ca. These nutrients, along with Vitamins A, B1, B5, C, D, E, and K, combine together to create a tonic and immune builder for the garden.
There is a quick method and a long range method for making nettle fertilizer. Either method requires nettles, obviously which can either be picked freshly or dried.
Quick method: For the quick method, steep a handful of nettles in a bowl of boiling water for 20 minutes, then strain the leaves and stems out and toss in the compost heap. Dilute the fertilizer 1:10 and it’s ready for use. Spray this nettle tea on your plants. It helps them to grow strongly, which means they become less attractive to pests. This quick method will give a subtler, non-smelly result than the following method.
Long range method: Fill a bucket with the leaves and stems. Weight down the nettles with a brick or stone, and then cover with water. Only fill three-quarters of the bucket with water to allow room for the foam that will be created during the brewing process. If you can, use rain water, and set the bucket in a semi-sunny area, preferably away from the house since the process will likely be smelly. Leave the mix for one to three weeks to ferment, stirring every couple of days until it stops bubbling.
Finally, strain out the nettles and dilute the concoction at one part fertilizer to 10 parts water for watering plants or 1:20 for direct foliar application. It can be added to the compost bin to stimulate decomposition as well.
When using nettles as fertilizer, remember that this fertilizer works best on leafy plants and heavy feeders. Start with low concentrations and move on from there.
This nettle manure plant food is easy to make and your plants will be happy about it if you use it wisely.