I have a confession. I’m obsessed with nettle. I’m talking, I have to have it everyday! I even planted some in my garden last summer. It’s seriously my friend. Does that sound crazy? Maybe….But it’s true!
When I was first getting into herbs I was told to pick 1 herb and learn as much as possible about it. I did some research and liked the medicinal properties of several herbs. In the end, I picked nettle. Stinging Nettle Leaf is very nutrient dense, is high in iron, is a natural antihistamine, helps the body build energy, reduces inflammation, can help with UTI’s, help respiratory health, and help the immune system, among other things.
So I studied Stinging Nettle Leaf until I felt like I could not find any new information, then, I studied it more.
Once I felt like I was a Stinging Nettle Leaf pro, I began using nettle as a tea daily. I would make a strong tea, add my honey to sweeten it, then I’d cool it in the fridge or with ice and take it to work with me. Within a week of daily use I had crazy amounts of energy. I slept better at night and felt more focused during the day.
I was hooked!
I began using Nettle in everything! Teas, soups, oils, tinctures…. The list goes on.
After using it for a year (i usually bought it dried, organic) I began foraging for nettle. I found several patches near my home and a few in friends yards. I quickly found out why it is called Stinging Nettle. OUCH!
Stinging Nettle Leaf has many hollow stinging hairs called “trichomes” on its leaves and stems, which act like needles that inject histamine, formic acid and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation. All it takes is to brush up against it or a small touch to your finger and OH MY does it STING! I thought it may be a mild stinging effect… it is NOT mild. So a word of caution, use thick gloves when harvesting fresh leaves. Because the only thing I have found to help with that sting is time.
NOTE- it does lose it’s sting when cooked, heated or dried.
Last summer (2020) I decided to make it super convenient and grow my own. I had my husband build several raised gardens on our property. In the back corner of one, near my green beans and cherry tomatoes, I sowed a few nettle seeds, thinking nothing of it, thinking it still wouldn’t be enough for my personal needs.
A few weeks later they began really growing, and the warmer the days got, the faster they grew. By mid summer the nettle had taken over an entire quadrant of that raised bed. I couldn’t harvest my green beans near the nettle unless I had extra long (and extra thick) gloves on. I harvested the nettle often, and still used it daily. I also dried the excess in my dehydrator, and still couldn’t keep up.
I was in nettle overload!
By the end of summer I had more than enough to get me and 10 friends/family members through the winter. I had taken on more gardening than ever before and became a bit burnt out on the gardens. This is where I made the big mistake!
I just left it.
I left the nettle to be wild and free.
And it went to spreading its seeds before I knew it.
I know this spring and summer and (probably) for years to come I will be battling the overwhelming amount of nettle. It will surely take over half (or more) of that garden bed and the surrounding area. I will have plenty, but I will also be itchy. Because, no matter how hard I try… I always get stung by my green frenemy, Nettle.