Friday, August 10, 2012

Stinging Nettles.

Many people spend a lot of time trying to have an immaculate garden, every weed has to be removed, not a blade of grass is allowed to be out of place.
We have a very different approach to our garden, yes we do like the veg beds to be relatively free of weeds, less places for the slugs to hide, but when it comes to things like stinging nettles or even a certain amount of ragwort we leave it to grow.
Ragwort is the host plant for Syllabub Moth although we haven't seen any around we still leave a certain amount of ragwort growing in the hope that a moth will arrive.
Stinging nettles are to us the gardeners friend. Young tips can be eaten like Spinach. Fermented they make a fine foliar feed, cut they are good in the compost heap, adding organic matter to it, they are also wonderful as an aphid control for both roses and broad beans again fermented. Hover fly larva eat a certain amount of aphids as do ladybirds, but not that many, you would need a whole swarm of lady birds to clear just one plant. Stinging nettles are also the host plant of the Tortoiseshell butterfly and we have been rewarded with a seething mass of black caterpillars which are growing daily, if the wonderful weather we are having at the moment continues in a few days time we should see the sparkling jewels of the chrysalis hanging from the skeletons of the nettles . We also leave some thistles in the hope that a Red Admiral will arrive but no luck so far.

The veg continue to provide food for us twice daily, and the tomatoes are just ripening. It is a case of just going into the garden and selecting the days crop and then deciding what we will make with it. Today it was ratatouille.

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