Use Stinging Nettles To Make A Liquid Fertilizer

Discussion in 'Fruit and Veg Gardening' started by Sjoerd, May 22, 2010.

  1. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Try as one may, there's no keeping stinging nettles out of the gardens here. I don't know when they get in, but all of a sudden I just see one standing tall and over-healthy-looking, over by the Astrantias....or more sneeky, I don't see them at all but rather I do FEEL them when I stick my hand down to pull a weed. They sometimes lurk just out of sight, under a broad leaf...or behind a tangle of stems.
    The stinging nettle is a plant that I have a love-hate relation with.

    Because I get "stung" countless times on my arms, hands or bare legs during the course of the season, I let dockweed (Rumex obtusifolius or Rumex crispus) grow here and there so that I can quickly grind a leaf up and rub it into the sting site wherever I am in the garden. Handy.

    But I am drifting away from the subject at hand--Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica).
    I can complain about them and curse them...but the thing to do is to use these pesky plants to benefit oneself.
    This is the time that I begin making liquid fertilizer to suppliment certain plants in the garden.

    I make a solution, or "tea", from these nettles which I use to feed the veg plants. They do not contain alot of phosphate but they do have useable amounts of nitrogen, iron, magnesium and sulfur. You can also use the plants to activate your compost.

    How does one make this solution? It is not difficult, below is the way that I make it.

    --First select your bucket which you can close off. Then you cut enough nettles to fill it up. **Do not use plants with seeds and remove the roots.
    [​IMG]

    --Use hedge clippers or some other tool to cut the gathered nettles up. I tend to clip them rather fine, but it doesn't have to be that fine, per se. I know gardeners that place a large, flat stone on top of the clipped foliage down inside the bucket at this point. It keeps the clippings from floating around and mixing with the foam that forms.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    --Add rainwater to this, leaving the level a bit under the top, as a foam will form as the plants begin to decompose, and it could spill over. Believe me, you do not want it to spill, because the odor is very unpleasant.
    Set the container in a warm and sunny place to help speed-up the process.
    [​IMG]

    --Stir the mixture thoroughly every few days (some say once a day, every day).
    After about two weeks it is ready to use.
    When you are using this mixture, filter out the debris and use only the clearish liquid.

    --How to use it: Mix the solution with water in a proportion of 1 : 10 (one part nettle solution to ten parts water). Pour the solution directly at the base of the plants where the roots will have quick use of it.

    --This "tea" is ment as a supplimental feeding for plants that have a high demand for nourishment, such as tomatos, leeks, brassicas, cucumbers and courgettes.
    There are other things that will appreciate stinging nettle tea: fruit trees and bushes, roses, annuals and perennial flowering plants.
    ** It is NOT ment to supplemant such plants as onions beans and peas.

    One should be able to notice the effects of the solution within just a few days. You can also add some comfrey (Symphytum officinale) and horse tail (Equisetum arvense) bits to the tea.

    When the bucketful of "tea" is all used up, you can throw the left over dregs onto your compost heap...although if you used horsetail, I would not take the chance.
     
  2. Netty

    Netty Chaotic Gardener Plants Contributor

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    I was just thinking how similar this sounded to Comfrey compost tea someone gave me a recipe for and I see you have also added Comfrey. I really must try that recipe this year!
     
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  3. Frank

    Frank Happy Gardening Staff Member Administrator

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    Amazing Sjoerd, thanks for the wonderful tutorial! Incidentally, who originally taught you this?
     
  4. fish_4_all

    fish_4_all In Flower

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    Excelent post Sjoerd, I never thought of using them although they are not that big of a problem here. You do mention horse tail though and there is a ton of them to be had localy. Can one make the tea solely out of them? How about willow tea? Is it useful the same way or is it solely for a rooting mixture?
     



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  5. weeds n seeds

    weeds n seeds Seedling

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    Horsetail contains large amounts of silica, is best used as a scouring agent. To do this, collect the leafless stems, dry briefly in the sun, tie into small bundles and use as scouring pads for shining metal or to give wood its final sanding. Other than that, horsetail has no benefits in regards to being used in a "tea".
    Dandelion leaves, plantain, and a bit of fish emulsion added to nettle tea also works wonders! Great posting!!!
     
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  6. EJ

    EJ Allotmenteer Extraordinaire

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    We have an abundance of nettles on the plot, and I keep meaning to do this. Must must must take a bucket with me when I pass by there tomorrow and get some made as my tomatos are all in. Great reminder Sjoerd.
     
  7. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    NETTY--Yes, the preparation technique is indeed similar to that for comfrey. I make that each year as well. Sometimes I make them separately and sometimes I combine them. I also make some "tea" from horse or cow manure. It is very helpful for my plants.

    FRANK--My grand parents told me abiout this when I was younger. They used it on some of the plants in their kitchen garden. Then, there is an older gardner on the complex here that told me about it and after asking around further, I learned that many folks already knew about it and used it themselves.

    FISH 4--Yes, you can make tea solely from it. The plant contains quite a bit of nitrogen.
    AS for willow tea: I am only aware of it's use in helping to stimulate root formation. I have never heard of it being used as a plant food suppliment.

    WEEDS--Thanks for liking the posting. Thanks for your ideas concerning the use of Equisetum arvense. I do disagree with you about the plant having no benefits in regards to being used in a fertilizer "tea".
    We have been aware of it's nitrogen content here for some time. You can look here for some info on it:
    http://www.seasonalgardener.com/Tips/Li ... fault.html

    EJ--OK, good luck with gathering them. I know that you have sensitive skin, so do be careful please.
    When I saw the first tom on my greenhouse plants, I began harvesting the nettles for fertilizer that same day. hahaha.

    Howe are the qiail doing?
     
  8. Frank

    Frank Happy Gardening Staff Member Administrator

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    Sjoerd, just told Mom about this and she is going to try it this year :stew1:
     
  9. Philip Nulty

    Philip Nulty Strong Ash

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    Hi Sjoerd,
    my father used to use the nettles from around the area of our house as a liquid fertilizer,..the only difference he would put the nettles in a sack then submerge them,..alas i don't follow his way,..no nettles in my garden,..not that i wish for any, :) ,..great post and a great natural fertilizer.
     
  10. Theodoros

    Theodoros In Flower

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    a great idea Sjoerd :-D
     
  11. rockhound

    rockhound In Flower

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    "** It is NOT ment to supplemant such plants as onions beans and peas. "
    Why?
     
  12. rockhound

    rockhound In Flower

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    Somebody? Anybody? Why would you use nettle tea on one crop and not another? Or is it just forgotten lore?
     
  13. Philip Nulty

    Philip Nulty Strong Ash

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    Hi Rockhound,
    lol,..looking at this thread nobody seems to be home,..if you check out the link below it will give you the information you need,..certain plants need more than just a general fertilizer,..and nettles as a fertilizer are very good,..in particular for leaf growth so you need a balance,..not to have great leaf growth only,..but a good crop of flowers or fruit,..i suppose you could compare it to a weight lifter using upper body improvements,..only,..and nothing for the legs.

    Nettle Fertiliser - Great for Leaves, Bad for Fruit and Flowers?
     
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  14. rockhound

    rockhound In Flower

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    nettles

    Hmmm...OK. The way I was reading it the peas and onions (which need totally different amounts of N) would be harmed, not just mal-nourished.
     
  15. frenchquarry

    frenchquarry New Seed

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    Hi, I was wondering if Texas Bull Nettle (Cnidoscolus texanus) is as effective a liquid fertilizer as Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). Living in East Texas here and I know of a healthy Texas Bull Nettle patch that I hope can help out my garden. Regardless, I've read Texas Bull Nettle produces tasty seeds during late summer and the leaves are quite healthy eating as well. Take care, and any help is appreciated.
     

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