There are many ways that stinging nettles can be used and consumed to nourish our bodies, but one of our favorite methods for using nettles nourishes our farm. At Fresh Pickins we use nettle to create fertilizers that can be used as foliar sprays and soil drenches to feed our plants.
These fertilizers are really easy to make from fresh nettle and are chock full of nutrients and micronutrients that contribute to overall plant health. Since these nettle fertilizers are higher in nitrogen than say phosphorus or potassium, they are great for helping plants put on vegetative growth in their stages before flowering.
Nettles are ready for their first cuts in the beginning of May and the fertilizers take about a month or so to brew, making our small seedlings in June the perfect for this fertilizer.
Organic fertilizer grown on your own farm! What could be better than that?
Here’s a simple recipe for brewing your own fresh nettle tea in a 5 gallon pail. This concoction can be used as a foliar feed or soil drench that will promote early balanced growth. FYI the foliar feed will also help as a natural insecticide by promoting beneficial insects.
5 gallon pail w/ top (does not need to be airtight)
2.5 gallons of fresh nettle cuttings
1 handful of local forest soil or decomposed leaf mold soil (from your surrounding vicinity)
Cut nettles to fill ½ of the 5 gallon bucket. Find a rock or weight to keep nettle leaf submerged in the water. Add a handful of fresh undisturbed forest soil.
Fun fact: Native forest soil is full of billions of beneficial native soil microbes that are locally adapted species. They are your little soil army that will help produce a balanced nettle fertilizer and fortify your plants and soil when applied.
Fill with water just below the top and cover. Let sit for 2-3 weeks. The brew will become very stinky but this is what you want! Once finished you will need to filter out the liquid with an old T-shirt or tight woven fabric. This brew you have created is very potent and will need to be diluted. Do not apply directly to plants in the concentrated form as it is just too much.
Dilute at a 1-10 ratio, nettle fertilizer to water. This 5 gallon nettle concentrate will go a very long way and last for many applications. Apply with a sprayer or water into the soil not in the heat of the day. Dawn or dusk is best for this activity.
Enjoy the results of this locally grown, regenerative fertilizer that yields amazing plant results. Remember a little goes a long way and too much of this fertilizer will definitely not yield better results.