Stinging Nettle Fertiliser
You know those pesky nettles, always seem to pop up where they’re not wanted. What if I told you they could save you money and improve your soil for free?
This is a recipe I received from my cousin Laura. Laura runs the amazing Meadowbrook Nursery from her home in Kildare and is full of many of these DIY tips and tricks.
When developing new prairie style gardens last year, Laura recommended I try this mix to give the ornamental grasses an extra boost.
So, I got my gloves and my clippers and I went on a hunt for some nettles. Having so many goats and animals made the search a little more difficult than I had anticipated, but I managed to find enough to fill a small barrel.
Rubber gloves are the important thing here. Nettles will manage to make their way through even the best gardening gloves but those yellow gloves you keep under the sink, they are your saving grace for this project.
After I had gathered the nettles into the barrel, I used my long-handled clippers to mulch up the leaves. I had read online that bruising the leaves helps with the process, but short of having a fist fight with a barrel of leaves I felt this was my best option.
After I had mulched the nettles, I was left with about a half barrel of leaves and stems. I then filled it up with water and let it sit for two weeks to ferment. I did place a bag over the top of the barrel just in case a bird ended up falling in or duck got curious. This also helped avoid evaporation as I was doing it mid-summer in the dead heat.
After the two weeks I strained the liquid and bottled it up for storage. As it is used a mix ratio of 1:10 this one barrel had made me enough for the entire season. I was a little sceptical about its effectiveness as it kind of seemed too good to be true.
How could something so simply made, offer a free and natural plant-based alternative to my usual plant feeds?
The stinging nettle belongs to a group of plants called “dynamic accumulators”. Dynamic accumulators take nutrients and minerals from the soil and store them in their leaves. This is what makes nettles an excellent nutrient-rich homemade fertiliser.
Studies have shown nettles to be loaded with high concentrations of vitamins and minerals. The nettle is also rich in nitrogen, chlorophyll and plant polyphenols. Polyphenols is a potent antioxidant which will boost your plants immune system helping your flowers fight off disease and reduce the impact of pests or plant stress such as drought or unfavourable conditions.
I used this fertiliser on the majority of the gardens. The main place I saw a noticeable difference was on our newly planted leylandii hedge. What we had planned to take 2 years to fill out has been achieved in a single season. The grasses in the prairie garden have doubled in size along with many of my roses too.
Thanks to Meadowbrook Nursery this is a recipe I will be reaping the benefits of from here on out.