nettlesGardeners regard nettles as a nuisance. But they are the most valuable and useful plant in the garden, if not the world! The Romans introduced the stinging nettle, or Urtica Dioica, to England (along with snails, chestnuts, apples, pears, peas, carrots, cats, advertising, and gay marriages!) They used to beat themselves with a bunch of them to help their blood circulation and to keep them warm.

Nettles are said to be good for arthritis. I had a sprained wrist that just wouldn’t get better. So I whacked it several times a day with a sprig of nettles. And guess what? In a few days it was completely healed and it’s never come back.

You can make cloth with nettles, both for weaving and as a dye. During World War 1 there was a shortage of cloth in Germany, and German uniforms contained  85% nettle fibre. And during World War ll, the British Government arranged the collection of 100 tons of nettles to be made into green dye for camouflage purposes.

Nettle comes from the Dutch word Netel, which means needle. And Urtica is from the Latin Uro, which means burn. Dioica means two houses because the male and female flowers grow on two different plants.

It’s very important to have nettles growing in the garden. Many types of insect and butterfly rely on them, and small animals shelter under them. Ladybirds hatch on nettles, then they feed on aphids, which protects other plants. Birds, especially tits, eat the aphids, and in late Summer/early Autumn they feast on the nettle seeds.

Nettles make great compost. When they rot, they supply nitrogen, magnesium, iron, sulphur and minerals to the soil. The roots spread quickly though, so you may prefer to grow some nettles in a pot, or reserve a wildlife area in a corner somewhere.

If you’ve never eaten nettles, you really should try them. They’re full of vitamin C, protein, iron, and much more. Cook the leaves, and use as a vegetable instead of spinach. If you don’t tell anyone at the table, they won’t know! Nettle soup is delicious. You can find recipes online, or substitute nettle leaves in a spinach/cabbage soup recipe. Add whatever you fancy; potatoes, onions of course, carrots and herbs. Serve rustic style, nice and chunky, or blitz until smooth, add some cream or fromage frais, and serve with fresh bread.

You can make a nettle pie, Greek style with filo pastry, nettle pasta, nettle pizza, nettle omelette, nettle pudding, (A Medieval recipe) and much more. For nettle bread, add finely-chopped nettle leaves to the dough mixture.

NETTLE CAKE

This was popular in World War ll.

Place a layer of stale breadcrumbs in a dish. Add cooked, strained nettle leaves, and a chopped, sautéed onion. Then add any leftover meat, chopped, or cooked beans or lentils. Cover with stock, or the boiled nettle water. You can cover with bacon slices if you like. Bake for about half an hour.

Nettle beer and nettle wine are delicious. There are plenty of recipes available online.

NETTLE TEA

Pour boiling water over about six freshly-picked, washed leaves in a mug. Steep for about five minutes, then scoop out the leaves and sweeten if desired.

Honey is a good sweetener.

It’s been claimed for centuries that nettles that nettles can cure, or help to ease, practically any ailment.

Nettles contain vitamins C, A, B1, B2, E and K, plus aluminium, bromide, cobalt, copper, fluorine, manganese, nickel, silicon, zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium and sulphur.

They also have anti-viral and antihistamine properties, expectorant and soothing qualities.

I’m not saying that they can cure anything, but they’re a natural treatment for arthritis, rheumatism, lumbago, bronchitis, hay fever, asthma, shingles, colds, flu, anaemia, sciatica, sore throats, ulcers and gum disease, blood pressure, piles, diarrhoea, and even cuts and wounds.

Apparently nettles can even help you to diet! Just eat young nettles and drink nettle tea for a few days. It won’t do you any harm, and you’ll get plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Whether they really are capable of healing practically everything or not, at least they’re a natural remedy, and it’s known that they contain loads of healthy ingredients. They’ve been a vital addition to the larder and medicine herb garden in many different countries for centuries. And of course, they’re free! But do wash them well, especially if you pick them near a road, or where people walk their dogs. And don’t forget to take some gloves and scissors, and a bag with you when you go to collect them!

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.