Stinging nettles...beware!

by Heidi Vorst
(Portland, Oregon)

I was quite ignorant when planting nettle starts a decade or so ago. I wanted them to make tea for my husband who swore he was flu-free for years due to nettles. They are quite medicinal/edible and we love them in soups. I crave them in springtime and use them several times a week. There is a story about the reclusive Tibetan monk, Milarepa, as well as an Irish saint, Columba, both of whom survived on only nettles for years!

That said, they are quite invasive and have an amazing root system! So, if you want nettles, you must keep them in a contained area, a large pot or perhaps planting a deep barrier like one would do with bamboo, otherwise you will be pulling and digging up nettle roots the rest of your life, as we do on about 1/2 an acre, since we won't use pesticides. You must, also, plan on cutting them back before they go to seed. And, if you think your goats, free range rabbits, ducks or the neighbor's alpacas might take care of them for you, forget it. They're not interested.

For us they have been a blessing and a curse!

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