It’s everyone’s eventual test of virtuosity. Like the family cat that digs its claws in to get comfy on your thighs; maybe it doesn’t really love you, and given the chance it will just breed wildly and out-compete native species, with no regard for your heartfelt affections whatsoever. Maybe the warmth and companionship that it provides is just purely self-serving, and while you pucker and stroke, it thinks of nothing but lechery and a cold instinctual will to dominate.
Unlike your stripey little tabby however, you can always gobble up these nutritious perennial weeds without violating any social taboos or upsetting the children as well. On the contrary, the kids will be beaming with life as they soak up all the nutritional benefits that this staunch green garden loiterer has to offer. Iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, protein, and the whole vitamin alphabet to name just a few. Be warned though, that before you let the young ones go grazing wild and free, an essential tip is to neutralize the sting by boiling, soaking or annihilating the leaves in a blender. One part nettle, two parts faith.
In the garden, nettle makes for a great companion to broccoli, tomatoes and other herbs (a delicious salad waiting to happen). It thrives on soil rich in nitrogen and phosphorous, and so a healthy stand of the stuff is a good indicator of the presence of those elements. If it isn’t already glaring menacingly at you in tufts along your garden path, it can be grown by cultivating some damp, nutrient rich soil and planting the seeds no more than a few millimeters deep in a sunny area with partial shade, to aid germination. If conditions are good you will see some shoots popping up in a matter of several weeks, and within several months you can find yourself happily harvesting (or waging war with) your new needled, histamine-laden friends.
Despite the sting (a very forgivable quality, all things considered), a whole host of benefits await those intrepid enough to invite the Urtica genus in to their hearts, minds, kitchens and gardens. Aside from the dietary value and it’s usefulness in building a biological forcefield to repel intruders, it also boasts a range of medicinal qualities (of which you should of course consult a medical professional prior to treatment). So why not jump in to nettle today? You will never have felt so alive.
You can read more about nettle: why they sting and how to cook with them!
You can even use nettles for textiles!