Nettles are a favorite spring treat. I know, you may not have fond memories of its stinging stems, neither do I, but the nutrients and health benefits it provides are pretty awesome. I’m fortunate enough to have a couple of very productive stands on our homestead that yield plenty of nettles for spring eating. I did do a little experiment a couple of years ago by digging some up and replanting them in my herb garden. Looking at them this year they are doing much better than any previous year.
So here’s a few hints to grow your own
Sunny! It really prefers full sun and you’ll get the heartiest growth from them. One of my patches is in full sun and one is in dappled sun, the one in dappled sun ends up a little more leggy while the patch in full sun is quite robust and generous with its leaves.
Moist and high in nitrogen. We are fortunate to have a great location between two pastures at the bottom of our drain field that is quite high in nitrogen and stays moist due to the snow melting and moving through the pasture into the somewhat flatter area my nettles are growing. In my garden the location is not ideal. It is drier than the nettles like and, since we are still working on improving soil life, it is in a spot that is not as nitrogen-rich as it prefers. However, they are growing and its spreading which makes me a happy herbal gardener!
Use fresh nettles as you would any other potherb or green. Add it to soups, sauté it for a nutritious and delicious treat, or add it to a smoothie. Once it is cooked, blended, or dried the sting goes away.