Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Leaves, lovely leaves

Posted by Rosie

Nettle leaves first. There's a nettle patch in one of the sheep fields which Simon wanted to strim (they can be very invasive if not kept under control) but I have beaten him to it and picked them for nettle brew. No, not nettle beer (that's a bit further down my To Do list) but an infusion of nettle leaves left to soak in water for a couple of weeks and then given to plants as a food. I also found out last year that if sprayed over blackfly it completely kills the little blighters.

So, take one bucket, fill with nettle leaves, add water, cover and leave for two weeks. After that time approach with care - nettle brew is evil-smelling and when handling it it is one of the rare times I wear rubber gloves. But it is brilliant stuff, diluted one part to 10 parts water, the plants love it and it is free!

This is the collection of leaves from the garden that I threw into a stir-fry for supper last night - purple sprouting broccoli, chard, cabbage thinnings and the flowering stems of kale. Each was so tender they only needed a few minutes, some fish and a few flavourings added and there was my take on fast food.

And lunch today - Simon's not around so I had something he doesn't like - a salad (freshly picked lettuce of course) with walnuts and cheese. Delicious.

Thank you leaves - supper, lunch and plant food all from within a very short distance of the door.


  1. Sounds perfect !! I will certainly give the nettle brew a go. Thanks

  2. I've just started making nettle soup which is very yummy too

  3. I need to go a-foraging for nettles soon too. Hubby plans to make Nettle Beer and I want to try dyeing with them.

  4. Poppy - I love nettle soup and have an idea about making wild garlic and nettle pesto this year.

    Rebecca - Beer, as I said, is also on my to do list when I can gather together all I need. Do let me know how the dyeing goes. Are you planning to dye wool or some material?

  5. We'll have to compare beer tasting notes! :)

    I'm planning to dye wool fleece which I can then spin - I've recently done some natural dyeing using onion skins and was really pleased with the results and am I'm looking at plants, vegetables and weeds in a whole new light!

  6. 'Lovely leaves' indeed. Can't wait for my mixed salad and rocket to grow up.

  7. kills blackfly eh? good tip. mind you - thye probably die of the smell... hwo does soemthing as lovely and fresh as nettles go so stinky!

    we have dyed with nettles back in the autumn. supposed to get a different colour in spring, so have to try again!

  8. Hi Rosie - and now I've found you - excellent!

    A good tip for blackfly - shall try it. One of the things my sons loved to do when they were little was collect the tops of young nettles for soup - in fact 'green' soup was (and still is) an all time favourite no matter what concoction of greens one had to hand.

    The pesto sounds interesting too - think I'll go and try that. Another excuse to avoid all those chores!
    Paula x
    ps do you live full time in France too? I've family down in Marseille. How do the children cope with two languaes?

  9. Welcome Paula

    As for the blackfly killing - I only found it out by accident. I'd given the broad beans a nettle brew feed (which apparently is best poured over the leaves) and noticed there were blackfly. When I came back a afew hours later armed with a some soap spray they'd all gone. Result!

    Paula - yes, we do live full time in France (2 years in August). The boys are virtually fluent picking up the lingo so quickly but also have no problems switching from English to French. Ben, the younger one answerd the phone yesterday to his French swimming instructor - he chatted away for a moment or so with no worries at all. Proud Mum moment for me!!


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