Stinging nettles are literally everywhere at the moment and even though they have such a bad reputation they can be used for so many good things. Not only can you cook with nettles to make delicious dishes but they can be used to make natural fertiliser feed to use on your allotment or kitchen garden too. Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now but seeing as I had a spare for hours on the farm I decided to go foraging for some nettles.
Stinging nettles will grow where the soil is high in nitrogen, they will soak up all the goodness in the roots and therefore this fertiliser will be perfect for using on leafy greens and brassicas. Of course I don’t have a brassica bed this year but I cannot wait to try this feed out next year on my cabbages, broccoli and kale. I’ll also be making some seaweed fertiliser this year and some comfrey fertiliser next year once my comfrey plant is established. They’ll be made in the same way as the nettle fertiliser however they are jam packed with nutrients and are great for flowering and fruiting plants.
Homemade fertilisers are so simple and easy to make and the rewards are plentiful. I didn’t have to go far to find some nettles on the farm and I’m sure you’ll find a patch on your allotment site, parkland or woodland. You will need a bucket or a container of some sort to hold the fertiliser, of course you don’t need much as the liquid is a concentrate and will be diluted when you use it. I’m using a bucket to transfer my nettles to my container which is a little on the large size but I’ll be sharing my homemade concoction with my Dad and fellow allotment holders. I bought two of these plastic containers from a local car boot and thought they would be ideal for making my plant fertilisers in, plus they have a lid which will be useful! However, a bucket full of nettles will do for a small garden.
One of my big tips here would be to dress accordingly; wear trousers, wellington boots, a jumper or cardigan and some gloves. You don’t want to be going into a nettle patch with any bare skin showing believe me, they aren’t called stinging nettles for no reason!
Simply cut or pick your nettles making sure to scrunch them up to bruise the leaves and stems. Place them into your bucket or container and keep doing so until it’s 3/4 of the way full. Place a weight or brick on top of the nettles and then cover them with water, preferably rain water but tap water will be fine. Leave to decompose into a brown sludge for 2 to 3 weeks, be warned though… it can smell! Pass through a sieve to remove all the foliage and it is ready to use.
Dilute the concentrate to 1 part nettle feed to 10 part water and use on established leafy greens, the fertiliser will be too strong to use on small seedlings and will damage them. Reap the rewards with luscious leafy goodness!