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Stinging Nettles and Your Orchard

Nettles have a bad reputation amongst Smallholders. Although they sting and are invasive if left unchecked, there are numerous ways they can be put to positive use in both your orchard and kitchen. Learn more, below.

Nettles are a magnet for beneficial wildlife, they can be made into great plant food and are a surprisingly versatile ingredient in the kitchen.

The nettle we are used to in the UK is Urtica dioica, a perennial plant full of iron, calcium, magnesium and nitrogen, which makes it incredibly nutritious for both other plants and humans.

Follow our tips on putting nettles to good use - but be sure to wear gloves at all times when handling them.

Nettles Help Butterflies Nettles are key to the survival of butterflies, as they are the primary food source for many caterpillars including those of the comma, tortoiseshell and peacock. Without nettles caterpillars would go in search of alternative food sources- probably one of your favourite plants.

Nettles as aphid traps Although aphids suck plant sap, stunting growth, they are also a vital source of food for many beneficial insects and birds. Aphids love nettles, which you can grow in your orchards to keep them away from your garden

Nettles for Ladybirds Nettles are the number one destination for Ladybirds to lay their eggs. These in turn turn into ladybird larvae which predate on garden pests such as aphids, whitefly and red spider mites. If you are not fortunate enough to have nettles, try our Grow Your Own Ladybird' kit,

The Health Benefits of Organic Nettle Leaf Nettle has been evaluated for antioxidant activity, its resistance to microorganisms, and other common, as well as serious, health ailments. The Department of Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology, University of California, Berkeley evaluated separate components of the nettle plant (roots, stalk, leaves) and discovered overall potent nutraceutical activity throughout. Università di Pisa in Italy also determined further evidence of the benefits of nettle by concluding that nettle had a relaxing effect that produced a decrease in blood pressure.

Try Nettle Tea Aas a relaxing alternative. It is reputed to help combat several ailments, including eczema, asthma, hay fever and muscle aches. Just steep a few fresh tips in boiling water, removing them when the water goes slightly green, to avoid bitterness.

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