Ortie Nettel Ortiga Brennnessel
Soil :Will grow in any soil but prefers moist rich soil. The plants spread by a bright yellow rhizomatous root system and may need to be controlled with a root barrier. It recommended to find a permanent spot with rich, moist conditions a little away from (or on the periphery of) your other herbs. The roots can be dug up at the end of each season to prevent the plants spreading out of control.
Position : Full sun or part shade preferred.
Frost tolerant :
Helps: Chamomille, mint, broccoli, tomatoes, valerian, angelica archangelica, marjoram, sage & peppermint
Sow and Plant :Indoors: If starting indoors, sow in pots in late winter and transplant in early spring. Water as needed during dry periods.
Outdoors: Nettle seeds are tiny, light dependent germinators that can be started indoors or out. Sow in autumn or very early spring for germination in spring.
To start, tamp the small seeds lightly into the soil or cover with a thin layer of soil, 2mm (¼in).
Spacing :Space plants approximately 20cm (8in) apart. If direct sowing, seed in spring and thin as desired and plant rows 2cm (1in) apart.
Harvesting : Young leaves and shoots for infusions, drying or cooking are best harvested in spring through to autumn. Wait until the little Nettles are 20cm (4in) high or so, and snip them off. Be sure to wear gloves when harvesting to avoid the sting delivered by tiny hairs on the leaves and stem.
If the nettles are very young only harvest the top bud and first leaf set. Harvesting the terminal (top) bud will stimulate lateral bud growth causing the plant to become bushier and allowing you to harvest continually from the same plant.
To dry, place on well-ventilated screen, and place in a dark, warm and dry place.
Do not harvest when flowering and avoid harvesting old leaves after flowering as these become unpalatable. Once the plant flowers, leave them until the seeds ripen to a dark green before picking. Gather the dried seeds into a bowl and push through a metal sieve to remove any debris. Store seeds in a dry, glass jar with a screw top in a cool, dry, dark place. When kept cool and dry they can be used for re-sowing or for culinary use for several months.
The key is that the hairs on the leaves all aim from the top of the leaf to the bottom of the leaf. If you run your finger from cleft to point, you will not get stung and you will impress your friends. If you run your finger from the pointy end up toward the cleft and central stem, chances are excellent you will get stung. Or if you take them from up and down between your fingers, the hairs don’t point straight out, they angle down the leaf- and you’re not stung.
The young leaves of Stinging nettle are very nutritious and easily digestible with high levels of vitamins and minerals. Cooked or thoroughly dried leaves are safe to eat as these processes neutralises the sting. Treated as a vegetable, they can be steamed and eaten like spinach or cooked in soups, stews, pesto or gnocchi. They are a great addition to omelettes, and even a topping to pizza. The leaves can be dried for winter use and the seeds can be utilised as a crunchy topping or mixed with yoghurt.
Medicinal Uses: The nettle has been used for hundreds of years to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anaemia. In medieval Europe Stinging nettle was used as a diuretic (to rid the body of excess water) and to treat joint pain. Today, many people use it to treat urinary problems during the early stages of an enlarged prostate, for urinary tract infections, for hay fever, or in compresses or creams for treating joint pain, sprains and strains, tendinitis, and insect bites.
Studies suggest that the consumption of leaf teas aid the formation of blood cell hemoglobin and coagulation. It has also been found to be highly beneficial to women during pregnancy.
Nettles makes a highly nutritive slow-acting tonic useful in the treatment of many chronic ailments requiring long term treatment. It is also used in salt-reduced diets.
Time to harvest: days