Last week on our twitter feed we posted the image below and asked, 'What's in the tub?' The guesses came thick and fast, but no one guessed what was actually in the tub.
It was nettle tea, now don't rush indoors and bring out your finest bone china. This is not that kind of tea, though real nettle tea is supposedly very good for you, and you can find more on the medicinal properties of nettles here. This tea is for the plants and when it is fully steeped you won't want to pour it into your best willow pattern cup. The stench of this tea is quite pungent. Yet, beyond the stink you have to remember that nettle tea is full of nitrogen, iron, potassium, copper, zinc, magnesium and calcium. This is great for developing plants before they fruit and the tea is so, so easy to make.
We use a closed container for the obvious olfactory reasons mentioned earlier. Oh God, how it stinks! My nose is melting! You get the idea. Now, we all know that nettles sting and we use an old piece of sacking to grab the nettles before cutting them at the base. We've tried gloves but nettles always manage to sneak beyond the cuffs of the glove and make you swear. A good piece of sacking will smother them. It is mad to see nettles as a pest, nettles are great indicator of good soil, so always cultivate a patch, they are great for bees, butterflies and moths. Place the cut nettles in the bucket and cover them with water. Then put the lid on and leave for three weeks. When you open it in three weeks breathe through your mouth, even then it will take you by surprise, and your neighbour who is pottering with his dog and yells at the dog, 'dirty hound, that stinks'. Poor dog. You can then strain off the rotted nettles and put them in your compost heap. A little known secret about perennial and pernicious weeds is that if you put them in a barrel of water they will rot down, release nutrients and then be absolutely harmless to place on your compost heap. You can see a full video about getting revenge on weeds here. Remember that weeds can work for you and if you chuck them in the bin, you lose a valuable resource. You will now have nettle tea, and to water plants you need to mix it 1:10 to water and 1:20 for a spray. You can use this as a spray on leaves of plants and the spray is very beneficial, we hope by sharing this natural fertilizer we will save you money, make you feel great about taking something that we have for far too long seen as a pest plant, and give you something to share with others. It'll be up to you to tell them about the smell, or not.