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dead nettle

 
rachael hamblin
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I've been reading about companion planting and have come across several references to "dead nettle".  Can anyone tell me more about this plant?
 
paul wheaton
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Why is it a good companion?

I've heard that medicinally, you consume it to make you barf.  So probably not big on the edibles list.

It doesn't sting - but does look like sting nettle

Sounds like lots of negatives ...  what are the positives?

 
rachael hamblin
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References in "Bio-Dynamics" Vol. III No. 1 (The Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Inc., 1943):

"potatoes are aided by [...] dead nettle (Lamium album)"
"all vegetables are aided by the following in small ratio, as in border: dead nettle [...]"
"all vegetables are aided by a border; that is, a relatively few plants of dead nettle"

So it sounds like planted here and there and especially around potatoes, dead nettle could be a useful addition, though its unclear how exactly. 
 
Dave Boehnlein
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I'm a big dead nettle fan. Here's some basic information on both the white and purple flowering versions: http://www.pfaf.org/database/search_name.php?ALLNAMES=dead+nettle.

Here dead nettle will move into garden beds wherever it has the chance and grow during the winter and spring. This would be a problem if it were quack grass or thistles. However, dead nettle is super easy to week or chop into the beds in the spring and it excludes other weeds from beds with failed cover crops or bare spots. It also provides a  great food source for bees early in the spring before most other plants are flowering. And here's the best part...we don't even have to plant it! It just comes up every year with a seemingly endless seed bank in the soil.
 
rachael hamblin
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Are you in Seattle Dave?  I don't think I've seen any of this here around Olympia, though maybe I've seen it and assumed it's stinging nettle.  How would I get some growing here?  Collect seeds from up North later in the year?
 
paul wheaton
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Cool info!  And I found a pic



That stuff grows all over the place.  I wondered what that was.

 
Dave Boehnlein
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Rachel,

I'm on Orcas Island. Check out the pic Paul posted. I don't think it looks terribly similar to stinging nettle. It doesn't really get over a foot tall and  it has square stems as it is in the mint family.

Dave
 
Kelda Miller
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Hi Rachael:

It is definitely in Olympia! When someone has a chance to point it out to you in person you'll say 'oh That darn plant, it's everywhere!!'.

It doesn't really look like nettle. You'd think of it more as 'that little weed with the purple tuft flower, that pulls out real easy.'

if you're at traditions tomorrow for heather flores, come find me and we'll probably locate some just outside the door
 
              
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I am building some raised vegetable beds soon, and I have some of this in my yard.  Do you think it would be a good idea to either transplant, or save seeds and get this into my beds during the off seasons?

 
Dave Boehnlein
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David C,

Nah. It's annual and nearing the end of it's life so I wouldn't transplant it. I wouldn't bother to save seed either since it seems to just spring up everywhere (especially in healthy garden beds). One of the biggest benefits of dead nettle is that you don't really have to do anything to encourage it. It just shows up ready to party.

Dave
 
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