Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador. On Twitter as @MatronsVeggies

Monday, May 17, 2010

Be Nice to Nettles!

What will they come up with next. Did you know it is 'Be Nice to Nettles Week?' 19th - 30th May 2010. Well, that's what it says on the Be Nice to Nettles website. But that's 12 days, not a week! Anyway, that aside, I agree with the sentiment and the idea behind it. Please leave a patch of nettles in your garden, many beneficial insects and beautiful butterflies need nettles to lay their eggs. Nettles make a wonderful nitrogen activator to your compost heap, and of course, you can weigh them down with a brick in a bucket and make a powerful natural liquid plant feed (if you don't mind the stench of drains and cow poo!). Go on, be nice to nettles!


At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Damo said...

I agree Matron but do they really need a whole week?

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Vegetable Heaven said...

I'm always nice to nettles Matron - although I didn't realise they had a week of their own! I have a nettle patch in the front garden which I allow to thrive till it threatens to set seeds. Then it's for the compost, but only the tops.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Rachael said...

Well I can feel smug then because I do have a small nettle patch, right next to my hedgehog hideout (pile of sticks)

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Carrie said...

we make the most wonderful (utterly stinky) fertiliser from our nettles at the lottie. But believe I respect ALL year round, not merely 12 days a year, after Andrew tripped me up and I fell into a clump at a country house - ooooohhhhhh it hurt and I was blotchy from head to toe.

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Ruth@VS said...

I'm with you on this, I have a large nettle patch which has conveniently chosen to settle on a steep slope, out of the way. I don't use them though, just leave them for the butterflies.

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Monica said...

The land around our home is surrounded by nettles. I've tried making nettle soup once, but it was late in the season and the nettles were a bit tough. I should try it again with the young leaves.

At 11:18 PM, Blogger Mal's Allotment said...

I've struggled with this one, Matron. When I first heard references to the butterfly's life cycle I started taking a benign attitude towards nettles. But I noticed they actually died back over winter (above ground only) and formed a mat off roots which bounced into life - everywhere late next spring. They rapidly got out of hand. (The smaller they are the more their sting hurts, in my experience)Clearly the butterflies don't overwinter on the nettles (although successive generations may be raised on them?). Even the report says they migrate annualy, doesn't it?

Another practical consideration is that, with the renewed interest in veg growing and longer waiting lists, many authorities and even local committees are getting very aggressive about evicting plot holders who don't come up to their expectations. Despite their avowed green principles, this doesn't extend to allowing the growing of nettles and other 'weeds'. You'd have to label it "Butterfly Service Station" to keep them happy.

So all an all I'm ambiguous. I've no qualms about buddleia though! I've rescued some cuttings from my Weyerasia (cross between the orange ball globosa and the Davidii spike) which got so big it keeled over. It fills the gap between the flowering of the other two. It is truly a magical butterfly magnet and can turn your garden into a magic therapeutic space in late summer!


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