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removing/replacing stinging nettle  RSS feed

 
John Master
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Location: Wisconsin
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Have a patch of stinging nettle on the edge of our property, we also have kids so would like to remove it/replace it. Any suggestions? we ripped it out last fall but it came back.
 
Will Holland
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Location: CT zone 5b
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We brought some with us from our last place because I LOVE to eat it in spring. It comes up so early. Two years ago, we trimmed it so much for greens in the early spring that the plants struggled for the rest of the year.
 
John Master
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How are you eating it and it not causing any problems? Picking with gloves and preparing it some certain way? As medicinal as it may be my wife wants it gone because it is near where the kids play
 
Will Holland
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We blanch it. Also, cut with snips straight into a basket so we never have to touch it. It's slammin in quiche.
 
Craig Dobbson
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I know a lot of folks who pick it and dehydrate it for later use. Just hang it in a cool dry place until crispy. Grind it up into soups for added nutrient boots during those cold winter months when nothing grows. Picking fresh requires gloves but once the nettles come into contact with heat (cooking) the stings just disappear. I've used them as a substitute for spinach in a lot of things. I stopped planting spinach because there are too many wild substitutes through the season that it's not even worth messing with planting cultivated varieties of greens. Nettles is just one of the early ones and it stings. But it is very high in many nutrients and also protein.

Just type in nettles here on permies and I'm sure you'll find tons of advocates for them.

So my answer to the original question is: Get some gloves and a steamer basket and eat your way through them. LOL Best wishes
 
John Master
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Location: Wisconsin
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My concern is that they keep coming back, we pulled them all last year and they came up again. I can cut them down and dry them easily enough but I am sure my wife wants them to not come back. If I smother them with a couple layers of cardboard for a year would that do it?
 
Rose Pinder
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Location: Otago, New Zealand
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Is it the perennial nettle? If so, it forms a spreading network of roots under the ground, all of which are capable of regrowing plants. When you say you pulled them last year, do you mean that literally? They probably need to be dug out rather than pulled, and very carefully to get as much root as possible. Or you could cut them and lay cardboard on top, multiple layers and overlapped well. Probably best not to dig there again, so you'd need to think of what you want to grow there instead.

Having said all that, nettles are such a phenomenally useful plant for food and medicine, biodiversity and for the garden, it seems a shame to go to all that trouble. You might find it easier to put a barrier up to keep the kids and the nettles separate. Are they spreading?
 
Will Holland
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You could also show your kids that rubbing jewelweed on their stings neutralizes it. It works wonders, and usually if there are nettles, there is jewelweed not far off!
 
John Master
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I know, I am starting to think maybe I need to sell her on keeping it now
 
Rose Pinder
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How old are the kids? It's a good idea to teach kids that not all things in a garden or nature are benign. Nice opportunity to educate them on how to be aware of what is around them.
 
John Master
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5 mos, 3 yrs and 5 yrs. The 5 month old we're ok with, the other two like to get into mischief sometimes.
 
r ranson
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My experience is that the more you pull or dig the ground, the more vigorous the nettles grow back. If you have most definitely decided that you don't want the nettles there, the best way I've found is change the nature of the soil. Nettles love moist, highly fertile, and acid soil. Usually adding a lot of lime or wood ash will reduce the nettle population pretty quickly, but may need reapplying every year or few. Physically changing the drainage also does it quickly. Growing something like willows will change the drainage in a few years, and compete with the nettles for water.

That said, you would be amazed how useful a nettle patch can be. Nettles make food, medicine, clothing, natural plant fertilizer, natural pesticides, rennet substitute, a substitute for some or all of the curing salts when curing meat, natural clothing dye, and a very handsome profit as U-pick nettles. I also sell/trade mine with the goat lady and she uses it for a nutritional supplement for sheep and goats. They are also useful for teaching kids to listen to you when you tell them not to touch this plant because it hurts, they touch the plant, they realized you might be on to something and worth listening to in the future... or at least, that's how I remember it from my childhood. Nettles almost always grow with a companion plant that neutralizes the sting. Here it's dock weed, other places, other plants.
 
Dawn Hoff
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Nettles aren't dangerous - they just sting: we bough this place two years ago my daughter was 3, she knows the difference between nettle and other weeds now, she even helps me pick them. But I will be sheet mulching most of mine (we have way more than we can eat), as they grow in the best place to have a veggie patch
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Dig over to a fork depth and remove every piece of root. I cleared a patch 2m by 2m in an afternoon to do some planting at my inlaws place. It is a pain, but you will get there.

Best is if you can do this once, leave it for a few montsh to see what regrows, then do it again to get any last bits.
 
John Master
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Location: Wisconsin
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I just buried 10 true comfrey plants. I wonder if they would outcompete the nettles if I moved some over there?

If I slash the nettles for making richer compost will they grow where I compost them? Sounds like they multiply by root division instead?
 
Rose Pinder
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Just so long as they're not in seed.
 
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