Many people avoid stinging nettle, but it has so many uses & benefits! Learn how to safely harvest and use this beneficial plant that may be growing wild.
Stinging nettle is one of those herbs that many tend to avoid despite its practical uses. The risk of being stung often outweighs the benefits but with the proper planning and care, you can enjoy all of the benefits of nettle without any of the pain.
Growing nettle yourself is a great way to enhance your garden and make harvesting safe and easy. Growing nettle in your garden attracts pollinators like butterflies and natural pest control like ladybugs to your garden.
Nettle prefers full sun to light shade and high nitrogen soil. You can plant in spring with seeds or through the division of plants.
Stinging nettle can be invasive so keeping them under control (e.g., in a container) is vital if you do not wish to have your garden overrun.
You’ll often find stinging nettle growing wild. Be sure not to harvest any that is growing near a road or other source of pollutants.
How to harvest stinging nettle safely
When it comes to nettle, the biggest reason people shy away from them is the small needles that sting when touched. The best way to protect yourself is to wear gloves while harvesting and handling fresh nettle.
If harvesting wild stinging nettle you will find the antidote for nettle stings near by. Rub the leaves of dock to relieve the pain of nettle stings. If you are harvesting from your garden and do not have dock nearby, ice can relieve the pain as well.
Nettle can be harvested three times a year – spring, mid-summer and again in the fall. In spring and midsummer, cut the leaves for fresh use in salads and health applications. In the fall dig up nettles by the roots and hang them to dry out of direct sunlight.
How to use young nettles
Nettles are most commonly known for their detoxifying properties. Nettle can be used as a diuretic and a stimulant to help flush out the body.
Nettle is also used to soothe joint discomfort and skin disorders such as eczema. The leaves of nettle are known for their anti-allergic properties and can be used for the treatment of hay fever and skin rashes.
The benefits of nettle can be reached through culinary use. Consult a professional from more advanced use recommendations for stinging nettle.
How to eat and drink stinging nettles
For fresh salads, use young leaves from plants less than 10 centimeters in height. This means the stinging properties have not yet formed in the leaf, so consumption safe.
Nettles should never be eaten raw. Only young leaves should be eaten due to the high concentration of calcium oxalates found in older leaves.
Nettles can be cooked and eaten similar to spinach and have been known to have a calming effect on the stomach.
Many people also enjoy making a tea from stinging nettles and getting their benefits that way.
I hope you discovered some new uses for nettle through this article. Try growing or wild harvesting some this spring.