I love foraging, its so rewarding! it helps you connect with the earth and her abundant seasonal produce. Stinging nettles are probably the first plant we are taught to recognise as a child (closely followed by dock leaves) we are taught to stay away and not touch and no one can be blamed for not wanting to touch this plant it blummin hurts. I stung myself recently and the end of my finger was numb for hours, like it had been repeatedly flicked with an elastic band. But if you use gloves to harvest this super abundant plant and be careful the chance of you getting stung are low and it is well worth it.
Where to find them
EVERYWHERE! They will grow in almost any environment, they prefer moist soil so along river banks and in shady spots but I've seen nettles grow along roadsides, in gardens, parks, woodland etc. They are super abundant! The best time to harvest is in the spring and summer as that's when they are at their best as they tend to get a bit tough as they age.
How to collect them
Very carefully, they will sting! I find some thick gardening gloves, a pair of scissors and a long sleeved top help the process. I just snip the nettle about 2/3rds up from the ground and let it fall in to a basket, that way the plant can regrow. I use dried nettles in my practice and all I do is string them up in my kitchen until they go crumbly, the drying process will kill the stings but be careful when you crush your dried nettles because one or two stings may remain.
The protective power of the nettle has been used in magick for hundreds of years, It is a powerful plant for removing curses and sending it back to the sender. Nettles are also good for warding away evil from a property, all you have to do is set some intentions and sprinkle the crushed dried herb around your house or better yet grow some in your garden. You can also sew some nettle in to a poppet or pop it in a small bag, box or jar and keep it with you, this will ward off negative energy and send it right back to where it came from. It can be used in partnership with yarrow to alleviate fear and worry and it has been used as a ghost deterrent. Contemporary Mexican spiritualists recommend its use in baths as a lust inducing herb.
Powers: Exorcism, Protection, Healing, Lust.
Interesting facts about Nettles
Nettles have evolved stings to prevent them being eaten by animals.
Despite their stings, nettles have for a long time provided a source of food for humans in the form of soups, broths and teas.
Nettles are also used as a fibre to make string and cloth.
Nettles need phosphates in the soil in order to thrive. This is why they grow so well near where humans live, with our phosphate-rich rubbish dumps and livestock paddocks.
You can use nettles to make all sorts of yummy goodies including nettle soup, nettle bread and nettle beer, the stinging nettle is a great replacement for spinach and is as good for you as kale. You can use the nettle in any recipe to replace spinach except a raw salad for obvious reasons. No matter how you process the nettles the stings will disappear, blanching, frying, drying, boiling. all of these processes will kill the stings. If you are intending to eat the nettles you forage make sure that you have foraged them away from roads and paths because of the potential pollution and dog wee.
so grab some gloves, scissors and a basket and take a walk, I can guarantee you will come across these amazing plants.
Don't have time to forage? Don't want to get stung? no problem, we have foraged the nettles and dried them for you. have a peep in the store cupboard section of the online shop.
Have fun and stay safe ~ Bunny