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Planting ideas to displace stinging nettles

 
pollinator
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Hi Folks,

I have been mulling for a while how to deal with a slightly awkward fenceline, between our property and neighbouring field. The ground is a bit uneven, so we can't get the mower down there - at least not tight to the fence line. For various reason't I don't want to plant hedging there at the moment, but I was wondering if I could crowd out the nettles and other things with some judicious perenial plantings.

The main criteria:

  • Safe for livestock to browse - sheep are periodically let in to "mow"
  • Low/no maintenance - I want something I can plant and forget about for a years at a time.
  • Preferably some added benefit - fertility building, edible, good fo polinators etc...
  • Vigorous enough to compete with the various weeds etc... and ideally crowd out stinging nettles.
  • Can be browsed/mown/strimmed down to ground level without problems.


  • On my list so far:
    Comfrey - I have a few slips in along the fence line that have been in 18 months. They are doing ok, but not nearly well established enough to crowd anything out.
    Mint - Tough as nails, and spreads by itself. Spreading in that area is fine - one side is regularly plowed and the other regularly mowed/grazed.

    Any other ideas?
     
    pollinator
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    Well, for criteria 2 and 3 it's actually the singing nettles that fit the bill. They are one of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet because they are such an incredible dynamic accumulator. I would leave them grow, eat some and compost the rest. But that's just me.
     
    Michael Cox
    pollinator
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    I knew someone was going to say that

    We have no shortage of stinging nettles here. When I decide to eat some I know where I can get my fill. But there are some areas around the place where I like to garden barefoot, and in those areas stinging nettles make me a sad bunny.
     
    Posts: 372
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    I think that the problem is actually the solution – if you have goats.
    - Stinging nettles are edible (cook the fresh leaves for a few minutes like spinach with onions) and goats appear to eat them as well.
    - If not eaten by goats, they provide a cover area for insects. (source)
    - If cut down and placed in water for a few weeks, they make great fertilizer.
    - already established
    - can be removed by pulling them out of the ground

    EDIT: I was too late.

    Sunchokes might work. They like similar conditions and grow tall.
     
    pollinator
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    I would investigate the use of comfrey as a border plant that might at least contain the nettles.

    Sunchokes might work. You might try seeding the area at the beginning/end of the season with something that establishes quickly, like buckwheat, which is edible, useful as a green manure, and hosts nitrogen-fixing bacteria. It might outcompete the nettles and allow slower-growing species a chance, after you come and chop-and-drop the buckwheat.

    You could just try to manage the nettles mechanically. Harvest them and make silage, if you have livestock, or submerse the cuttings in a drum of water, preferably oxygenated, to make a good liquid fertilizer. I don't properly remember, and I can't find the link to the source material (it was another thread on this site with links to other material), but I seem to recall nettle water being a decent flowering/fruiting stage fertilizer, with comfrey water being its vegetative state corollary.

    If you have any issues, I suggest you develop a taste for nettles, or for goat and goat milk pastured on nettles. Good luck, and keep us posted.

    -CK

     
    Michael Cox
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    I'd love goats, I really would, but at the moment that is a non-starter. The sheep that come and graze for us aren't even ours. We just open the gate from the adjacent field from time to time.
     
    Nathanael Szobody
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    Michael Cox wrote:I knew someone was going to say that

    We have no shortage of stinging nettles here. When I decide to eat some I know where I can get my fill. But there are some areas around the place where I like to garden barefoot, and in those areas stinging nettles make me a sad bunny.



    Yes, yes, I shouldn't have gone for the bait so willingly. The only thing I can think of is if chickens forage the sprouts,  you could plow it under, and then put chickens on the spot till the don't grow anymore.
     
    gardener
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    It's not exactly the same situation,  but yarrow is what I'm working with to border my garden beds. I think your climate would be even more suited to it.  Grows thick enough to choke out weeds, but stays fairly short.  Beatiful flowers for pollinators and cutting. Somewhat edible (which is as much as I can say for nettles, which give me persistent headaches) and definitely medicinal.  And a good dynamic accumulator.   Excuse me, I have to go recommend them in another thread now.
     
    Michael Cox
    pollinator
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    I've been have a bit more of a mull on this. Nearby to the area in question we are getting setup for chickens. I know that if we put plants directly in the chicken run they will be destroyed, but it occurs to me that we could plant close to the fence line there, for the birds to peck through for tit-bits. Comfrey is an obvious choice in that case, as I know it is great for chickens when cut and carried in. The chicken run will also become our primary compost heap.

    SO...  and added bonus for plants that fit well into the cut-n-carry chicken feed idea.
     
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