It's spring and the nettles are bursting through the soil gracing us with greenery. I have a 15 ft. patch that claimed one of my garden beds. I am surrendering to her desire to take up space in the center of the yard.
Nettles love manure and fertility so they find it and will not leave unless removed on purpose. Even then, they will attempt to come back to that fertile spot. She knows what she wants!
Last year I weeded the garden of nettles and threw them on top of an old goat manure pile outside of the garden. They are happy as can be.
Yet, this center patch is still thriving and I was overjoyed to see it because it means fresh greens from the garden after a long, long winter.
Nettles are rich in minerals and cleansing to the urinary system. I add them to soups, teas, and dry many jars for the winter months. Their taste is naturally salty which is a sign of high mineral content. They are like the seaweed of earth!
Harvesting young tender nettles with bare hands is less stingy than the older taller ones. I don't wear gloves because I welcome that sting to move my blood each spring. But, if you are sensitive then put on some gloves.
Snip the top few inches to allow the plant to continue growing as if giving her a haircut. The more you trim, the more they grow!
Here is my favorite spring soup recipe: Nettle Potato Leek Soup. It is simple and delicious. Add cream to add more richness or keep it vegan. Either way, it's a treat!
2-3 Leeks, chopped
4 cups potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cups fresh stinging nettles, remove stems
8 cups chicken or veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cream (optional)
Saute the leeks in ghee until browned and translucent. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until softened. Toss in the nettles and cook another 5 minutes. Cooking and drying nettles deactivates their stinging qualities and are safe to consume. Never eat fresh raw nettles!
Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend the soup until creamy. Add cream and serve hot.