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. --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. --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. --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.