Spotlight on nettles

Nettles strike fear in the hearts of many gardeners.  Reasonably invasive, quite difficult to dig out and eradicate when they are established and they sting to boot!

This year I deliberately left a small patch of nettles by the greenhouse and felt especially pleased with myself when BBC's Country File highlighted the value of nettles for certain butterfly species.  Lo and behold when I looked soon after there were 'cocoons' of threads and bundles of small caterpillars, closely resembling those on the TV.  Hooray I thought.

Now however the creatures have gone and I can't wait to cut back the unpleasant foliage which has been stinging me every time I brush by to get to the composters.  Adding it to the compost heap will add vital nutrients since nettles thrive on rich soils and contain potassium, calcium and phosphorus alongside a wealth of vitamins which makes it a 'weed' that is used in our food, as a medicinal herb and even as a shampoo.  Nettles sometimes make the news too - http://www.nettles.org.uk/nettles/news.asp

PS don't forget to mix softer, 'green' compost ingredients with carbon-rich 'brown' ingredients like torn paper or tougher plant stems to keep your compost cooking.

Have you got 'weedy' tales or questions? I'd love to hear them. Annie


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