The health benefits of nettles are many & we use them in various ways.
Today's smoothie, enough for two; nettle leaves, an outer leaf from a half grown broccoli plant, some whey from some cheese I made last week, a spoonful of our raw honey, a banana, a good couple of dollops of my home made yoghurt & some water. Blended in my $3 blender... Delicious, & how very simple it is to start the day with all those wonderful vitamins & nutrients?
Every August/September we take a holiday & are usually away from home for a month. When we return, the winter vegetable patch is thigh high in Nettles. I have to get in there in my rubber boots & gloves to push the nettles out of the way so I can pick the vegetables that have grown so beautifully under the care of the caretaker nettles. Not a bug or grub can be found in the vegetables & I attribute this to the diligence of the nettles.
I pick the tender nettle tops before they go to seed & lay them out on newspaper to dry in a shed. When dried the leaves can be stripped off the stems & stored in jars for making tea. I also dry some lemon grass or lemon verbena to keep in a separate jar for mixing into the teapot with the nettles for flavour. The tea is refreshing & has many health benefits.
Dried nettles can also be added to the cow's chaff at milking time for a vitamin & mineral boost.
Liquid manure made from nettles is a great tonic for all plants & so easy to make. Half fill your container, whether it be a bucket or a large barrel, depending on the size of your garden or balcony. Top up with water, cover loosely & let it sit for a few weeks to ferment. When you feel that it's ready (& a lot of gardening is about your gut feeling) dilute the nettle ferment by half with water & put it onto your plants. Both foliage & the roots will benefit from their nettle tea drink.
In Bio-dynamics we use nettles to make Prep number 504.
I wonder if I would have been burned at the stake a few centuries ago or if it was common practice then to use Nettles & other "weeds"?
The two main vegetable gardens (Summer & Winter) are near to the hen shed so is only a matter of opening & closing gates to allow or prevent access whilst still having access to their shed for night time shelter & laying of eggs. They must be happy because we're still collecting an average of a dozen eggs a day. I had always thought that hens go off the lay over winter.
I hope your chooks are laying, or if not, I hope you're able to purchase lovely eggs from happy hens.