Chemical free tips to rebalance the eco-systems in your garden.

#6: The benefits of nettles in your garden

You may feel that nettles, especially stinging nettles, are a problem weed that you need to dig up and discard. But there are actually numerous ways that nettles in your garden can be put to positive use:

  1. Nettles are the primary food source for many caterpillars so are key to the survival of butterflies. Leave a patch of nettles in a sunny spot for butterfly larvae to feed on. The Small tortoiseshell, Comma, Painted Lady, Peacock, and Red Admiral butterflies all love stinging nettles.
  2. Nettles are also a source of food for slugs and snails, which will draw both away from your precious seedlings and vegetables. Frogs and toads will shelter under nettles and eat the slugs.
  3. Nettle aphids appear very early in the spring and provide an excellent source of food for birds and beneficial insects.
  4. Nettles are the number one destination for ladybirds with eggs to lay. These eggs turn into ladybird larvae, which predate on garden pests, including aphids, whitefly and red spider mite.
  5. Chopped nettles act as a natural activator and speed up the decomposition process in compost heaps. For the best results, make sure the nettles are thoroughly mixed with lots of different materials – dry, wet, soft and woody – otherwise they become slimy. And don’t add nettle roots, unless your compost heap is very hot.

Important note: Dig up nettles at the end of each season to prevent their fleshy roots spreading out of control.