Like with many weeds (like blackberries) I have a love-hate relationship with stinging nettles. I hate them, of course, because they sting. I get “stung” many times during the summer while I am trying to weed and harvest. Fortunately, I do not have a large local reaction like I do with bee stings, but it still hurts.
But I “love” the nettles because they grow on our fencelines and provide a chemical barrier to our fencing to keep animals of all kinds under control.
I also “love” nettles because they are an excellent food source. Today I made Nettle Soup for lunch. I use the recipe from one of my favorite blogs, and it is always wonderful.
Tonight I made a new recipe for me to have Nettle Pesto. It is really good. Of course, any time you add oil, garlic and cheese to almost anything it will be good, but this is really amazing.
I should “love” nettles because they make fiber. I have been trying to make fiber with nettle like the local Salish Indians have done for centuries. I had harvested and dried the mature nettles two autumns ago.
I retted and dried them as instructed per the internet.
I was able to identify the fibers in the nettle stalks.
But I have been struggling with the braking and separating of the fibers. I kept trying different techniques and never found one that seemed to work well.
I will keep trying and let you know if I find any success. Apparently nettles will not make a commercial fiber crop as it cannot be cultivated (you can laugh now).
But I have learned that stinging nettles can give you better fencing, nutritious and tasty foods and fiber for clothing. Pretty cool for a weed!