Well, it's not Quite time yet, but I'm excited for nettles already. But this year am thinking of not just for myself and friends but making some teas available at maybe the farmer's market.
The question is: I don't have land and will be foraging from friend's land and prob'ly national forest sites around here. What are some rules of thumb from herbalists of places that are Safe? Right now I can think of the obvious stuff: don't harvest places where polluted waterrunoff flows, not near the dump, etc. But are there land-use practices that the national forest does that would undermine the integrity of nettles or collect heavy metals, etc.
Although I'll research whatever land I possibly can, I'm wondering if wildcrafters who supply to the public have some rules of thumb they can share...
I can't help you on safe places to harvest, but I'm curious, do you have any suggestions on harvesting nettles? When is the best time to harvest them? I know you're supposed to harvest them when they're young but I'm unsure when they start coming up. I'm also not confident that I'll be able to identify them when they're young. Any tips?
Nettle harvest, definitely right now. I go out to the woods with a couple bags a pair of snips. I snip off the top 4-5 inches of the lowest growing nettles around. (So nettles that are only that tall are the best, if there are taller ones I don't take much of the base). Then I'll use the snips to pick up the nettle and throw it in the bag. (Although I've watched a friend of mine harvest twice as many by snipping with one hand a good garden glove on the other.)
I cut the top just above a leaf node, kind of like cutting basil. Just like basil it will resprout from those top two leaves and create four, those can be harvested and it will grow back eight, etc.
To dry, check out the long discussion in the 'alternative energy' part of this forum. I guess I can also add that some people snip leaves from the stem before drying, but I like to keep them. My reasons are 1) because I don't harvest big stems to begin with and 2) they're easier to later throw into a teapot if they're 'wads' rather than 'flakes'
Also, about the original question that started this thread, its hilarious in the retrospective because last week some friends and i went and harvested from this old ramtha site near yelm. Like the previous owners had built wierd underground burrows lined with copper to repel the lizard people who may erupt from the mountain. For real, I looked in one.
So there were some thoughts on if these nettles were going to be affected by any strange goings-on out there. I'd love to see what doug bullock thinks....