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Landon Sunrich
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Last year the first nettles I noticed popping up on my property I saw on Feb. 1st. This year some of the nettles I've been pinching off and keeping low never died off and the rhizomes have been putting up little shoots all winter, but 4 or 5 days ago I started noticing lots of them. Today I found some that are well and truly shooting up. Can anyone remember such an early year for nettles? I make nettle beer and I usually don't go out picking until mid February.

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Here in the low desert, wintertime is "the" time for nettles - they are EVERYWHERE in my yard right now. Once the super hot temps get here, they die back, however mostly I don't let them last that long - they go into the compost bin where the chickens can help process them.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Wow, Landon, in the Seattle area, I wasn't able to pick good quantities - or some times even see them! - until March! That's awesome to have them in the winter. (Jealous.)
 
Landon Sunrich
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Don't get me wrong I'd have to pick out a good sized clearing to get a sizable amount (most of them are just starting to pop/maybe 3 or 4 inches out with a few being 6 inches or so) But seriously. Its crazy I don't think there has been even a 15 day straight period this year where I didn't have various cotyledion popping out in my yard. These plant are confused! I'm waiting with dread for the flip side. I remember 15 years ago when we got more than two feet of snow overnight in march and it all melted the next day. If that happened now I think my entire neighborhood would wash away. The last few years we've had snow basically right at the spring equinox mark, though nothing so extreme. Glad to see you're feeling up to typing!

I'll try and get some nettle pictures up this evening. Anyone else seeing these things (everywhere!) or do I as I have long suspected live on some sort of nettle holy ground?
 
Landon Sunrich
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Well it's no longer 'that evening' but I have pictures. I was just working a creek bank and wetlands and the skunk cabbage is popping up to. This is unheard of to my recollection.
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About a foot tall
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Nettles everywhere! Sloppy photo. You recognize or you don't
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Repeat: wow, and jealous! A foot tall before February? Yup, that sounds unheard of to me, too.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Well, we just had a week of below freezing temperatures - the larger nettles are pretty dog eared but even though the ground was frozen solid for nearly a week and we got an inch of snow on the last day to cap it off, the nettles are still alive and kicking - though most of the leaves are toast so they aren't much good for the eating. I'm kinda wondering if another flush of them wont start popping out. Good hearty plant the nettle.
 
Burra Maluca
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My other half just ran off with my colander and came back with these to go in the steak-and-kidney pie.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Simply gorgeous, Burra!
 
Landon Sunrich
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Nice! The leaf shape and vein structure look slightly different from the ones I'm used to here though. Are those tops going to seed already?
 
Burra Maluca
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Landon Sunrich wrote:Nice! The leaf shape and vein structure look slightly different from the ones I'm used to here though. Are those tops going to seed already?


Portuguese nettles aren't even the same as UK nettles! The leaves are smaller and the flower sticks out sideways rather than dangly like the UK ones. They sting the same though...

The other difference is the seasons. The summers are super-dry, and the winters are wet but not really cold, so 'greens' grow well during the winter. The nettles go to seed really early so that the process is complete before the dry season hits.

These ones have now been chopped and added to a steak-and-kidney pie, which is almost ready. I'm getting hungry smelling it.
 
Burra Maluca
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Steak-and-kidney pie, with nettles!





 
Landon Sunrich
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Wow, and jealous!


*stomach grumbles*
 
John Devitt
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My favorite is Nettle frittata with goat cheese.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Not to do with nettles but more breaking news in Northwest phenology - My hops are up and about. Interestingly the Goldings are thus far outpacing the Cascades which is in stark contrast to how they preformed last year when I transplanted them. But so far Golding have the leaves out while the cascades are still just popping up little tendrils
 
Landon Sunrich
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Just finished a short walkabout. My prime nettles (located IN the suntrap w/ shade - if that makes since - I'll try for some pictures) are about 2.5 feet tall and the Salmon berries I started actually managing (they grow wild - these one I've been pruning and such to make them less feral) are already having their flowers open up. Which is insane according to my memory. The leaves are just starting to unfold. I bet the bees will be happy, I've seen a few bumbling around of late.
 
Landon Sunrich
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More notes on phenology for personal records and in case anyone else is keeping track of such things: the alders have all flowered fully and have been dropping their catkins for the last week or so.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Just since yesterday I had my two best nettles bend to start colonizing more space. They do this, tricky devils. I'm thinking of staking a few of my tall straight thick stalked ones out of curiosity. When they arch and bend they send up a bunch of verticals. I want to see what happens when they are maintained to one apical meristem. Major fiber on these guys.
 
Dennis Lanigan
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Are the violets and trillium out yet? (I miss the NW so much.)
 
Landon Sunrich
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Dennis, my area has been so logged and developed over the last few decades that there is nary a trillium in sight. It feels like they should be out. maybe someone else around here has been keeping an eye out. I know spot on the east Peninsula which is a gorgeous alder forest with ceder and almost total trillium ground cover. Its got lots of streams and muddy areas and it is great for oyster mushrooms. I'll give a shout out to the folks out that'a way and see if they've been paying attention.
 
Jesus Martinez
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Landon Sunrich wrote:Last year the first nettles I noticed popping up on my property I saw on Feb. 1st. This year some of the nettles I've been pinching off and keeping low never died off and the rhizomes have been putting up little shoots all winter, but 4 or 5 days ago I started noticing lots of them. Today I found some that are well and truly shooting up. Can anyone remember such an early year for nettles? I make nettle beer and I usually don't go out picking until mid February.



Mine have been growing quietly for some time. I didn't write down the date, but it's really surprising because it's been a very cold winter up here.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Dennis Lanigan wrote:Are the violets and trillium out yet? (I miss the NW so much.)


A friend, client and collector of trillium varieties (did you know there are 48?!) is in the Seattle area has been posting current photos of her early blooming trilliums to her Cottage Lake Gardens FaceBook page. Which I downloaded and attached here. (Sorry if it's OT--they're just so gorgeous!)

You can also find her info at http://cottagelakegardens.com/index.aspx.
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Landon Sunrich
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April 15th. This year continues to be warmer and dryer than most I can recall, its mid april and it feels more like mid june (that is to say june on a good year not a gray one). I have many nettles which are now 4 feet tall and in full flower. I have begun to flag the ones I will be saving for seed again this year. I am convinced, having spent time around many a nettle in many a location, that these nettles are a rewilded domestic used by the natives before colonization. I have for much of my life and very deliberately over the last several years been saving seed from the best specimens in an effort to further develop these truly magnificent nettles.

Nettle holy ground in deed.

Edited to tinker w/ phrasing
 
Jesus Martinez
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Landon Sunrich wrote:April 15th. This year continues to be warmer and dryer than most I can recall, its mid april and it feels more like mid june (that is to say june on a good year not a gray one). I have many nettles which are now 4 feet tall and in full flower. I have begun to flag the ones I will be saving for seed again this year. I am convinced, having spent time around many a nettle in many a location, that these nettles are a rewilded domestic used by the natives before colonization. I have for much of my life and very deliberately over the last several years been saving seed from the best specimens in an effort to further develop these truly magnificent nettles.

Nettle holy ground in deed.

Edited to tinker w/ phrasing


I don't know if I'd call the weather in western washington warm for this time of year. The highest temp has been 69 in monroe which is about 15 degrees lower than the record and most days are well below the average high for this time of year.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Jesus Martinez wrote:

I don't know if I'd call the weather in western washington warm for this time of year. The highest temp has been 69 in monroe which is about 15 degrees lower than the record and most days are well below the average high for this time of year.


2 springs ago we had similar weather, but everything here is really dry and ahead of scheduled by several weeks by my limited notes. These are subjective and I make no claim to authority. Its been 70 here the last few days. Granted growing up there was much more shade everywhere around my place (pre neighbors) so perhaps I am just feeling the effects more than when I had it made in the shade as a kid. I've been sweating unconforably working all week which I generally haven't experienced this time of year
 
Jesus Martinez
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Landon Sunrich wrote:
Jesus Martinez wrote:

I don't know if I'd call the weather in western washington warm for this time of year. The highest temp has been 69 in monroe which is about 15 degrees lower than the record and most days are well below the average high for this time of year.


2 springs ago we had similar weather, but everything here is really dry and ahead of scheduled by several weeks by my limited notes. These are subjective and I make no claim to authority. Its been 70 here the last few days. Granted growing up there was much more shade everywhere around my place (pre neighbors) so perhaps I am just feeling the effects more than when I had it made in the shade as a kid. I've been sweating unconforably working all week which I generally haven't experienced this time of year


I'll definitely give the fact that it has been unusually dry this year. The fall and winter, and now spring, have all been unusually dry and sunny. I think what is making you sweat (and me as well) has been the lack of rain and the presence of the sun. When I have my rain gear on, i've been rather cold, but when the sun is out, so is the sweat.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I was in the Seattle area and I picked nettles! They are not as abundant here in Montana, and are much later.

Instead of "squirrel! squirrel!" I was like "nettles! nettles!" on this woodland walk with my daughter.
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Landon Sunrich
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Cool, I always get excited about nettle too. Finally got an email with a few photos my buddy took 2 weeks back. Photos of some of my nettles from 4/6

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Jocelyn Campbell
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Landon asked for more nettles pics, so here are some. The first blurry one was from a nighttime shot from the woodland edge of my former back yard in March 2012. It looks like the same varietal (?) as the ones from my woodland walk pic above.
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nettles in the Woodinville back yard woods
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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These March 2012 pics are from a field across the Burke Gilman trail from the Sammamish River in south Woodinville. I call it a "glory field" of nettles!. I was able to pic two paper shopping bags full in a matter of minutes.
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Landon Sunrich
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I am absolutely astounded by my sea of green. I have over the last several years created the most absolutely spectacular nettle patches I have ever seen. Score one for human interaction. I will try to get some photos up soon

Many of my nettles are over six foot and nearly perfectly straight. The seed set on them is extraordinary. I have nettles at every stages on down to chest, knee, calf, and ankle height all the way down to ones I could rub out with a thumb print. I feel like I have a grasp on the cropping of nettles I am totally and completely satisfied with - This is the only plant I have yet to say this about. Further I now have at my disposal the finest specimens of Nettles I have ever seen in my lifetime of close and constant interacting with them.

Stoked
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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That's awesome, Landon! Looking forward to those pics.

A friend from the Voices conference, Lise, told me about this herbalist in BC - Yarrow Willard. Here's his cool video on nettle seed harvesting and how to use them.

 
Landon Sunrich
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I have a few tricks for nettle seed harvesting too. One of them is to go out during a hot week when the seeds are almost ready and snap the top foot and a half or so of the plant but leave it attached. It matures and dries out the seeds quicker. Seems to work. I did it lots last year and my seeds are growing great.

speaking of... I just had to go through and thin my little foot tall nettles in my raised bed. They're starting to tower over and crowd out everything. Its amazing how quickly they grow this time of year. But they actually seem to play nice with everything else. and they sure form a great canopy. I opened up spots in the canopy today to provide for more light for the understory. I some so good looking peas and beans growing under there. And the best looking kales I have where all hidden just under the nettles. Some other barasicas and a few golden chains and some weeds as well. Nettle seems to do great in polyculture.

I just tossed some in a pan with some golden brown oyster mushrooms.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Also due to unusually warm weather I am getting ripe salmon berries in mid may this year.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Fade out into a couple 'what the hell is wrong with this fucking light' stupors between the days and days and days of gray and the occasional 'Holy fuck it bright! What the goddamn color is that? This low refractory light is so wierd!!!' and suddenly you have 5 inch nettles.

Now to be clear these are shoots from established rhizomes located in a hemlock sun scope getting modeled morning light, no midday light and fairly direct evening light. These stumps have been pictured. They have what I am nearly certain is a delish Hyphy Cap and is most defiantly not a potent toxin.

I hope it doesn't get damn cold again. I have more but you'd think I was making it up.

Validation? Anyone? and please don't fake it!

croak croak?

Where the west coast at?

!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Oooo! I'm going to have to check our wild nettle patch and see if there are any there. I love nettles, and have been yearning for some fresh greens. Maybe there'll be enough to harvest some for my pregnant sister-in-law to drink (it's a great pregnancy tea).

Thank you for the heads-up!
 
Crt Jakhel
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A practical question on using nettle leaves -

Is it possible to keep harvesting young nettles for cooking all year long if you keep cutting them and making them resprout?

Or will the build up of unwanted ingredients happen anyway regardless of always cutting them down before flowers form?

Thanks!

PS. What exactly is the post-flowering problem? Is it oxalic acid? Cystoliths? Silicon? or something else? I've tried to pinpoint it down via Google but haven't made good progress.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Crt Jakhel wrote:A practical question on using nettle leaves -

Is it possible to keep harvesting young nettles for cooking all year long if you keep cutting them and making them resprout?

Or will the build up of unwanted ingredients happen anyway regardless of always cutting them down before flowers form?

Thanks!

PS. What exactly is the post-flowering problem? Is it oxalic acid? Cystoliths? Silicon? or something else? I've tried to pinpoint it down via Google but haven't made good progress.


Oxilic acid? Calcium Oxalate? I'm not totally sure on that one. Maybe one of our chemists will chime in. As cutting them back - you can totally do that for a while - but at least here in this climate I wouldn't eat them past a certain point just based on how tough the leaves get and never mind any of the technical stuff. Now from seed? That might be a possibility. I'm totally playing with that. I'll keep ya'll informed
 
nancy sutton
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I start plant info searches at Plants for a Future - (I think they might deserve support, also)..and 'cystolith's might be a problem. Note that they refer to their sources for further elucidation ;) But, I wonder what 'older' leaves means .... is it a large leaf that has been maturing on the stem for the whole season, which may be different from a small leaf, newly-sprouted from a cut-back stem (the stem has been growing the whole season).


http://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Urtica+dioica
 
Landon Sunrich
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nancy sutton wrote:I start plant info searches at Plants for a Future - (I think they might deserve support, also)


I saw that guys video way back when. He seemed all over it and like he was really passionate. I'm glad he got his database together. I'll check it out. Thanks
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