Spring Herbal Abundance

stinging nettleAbundant growth is here, this means abundant weeds! Yay! Its time to make use of those fresh spring greens that are so rich in vitamins, minerals and also have the ability to assist our bodies to eliminate built up toxins. Yes that’s right its time for a spring clean.

So take a weed walk around your backyard and see what spring goodies are on offer. Chickweed, dandelion, cleavers, plantain are a few commonly found in the backyard, so don’t be shy — add them to your salads or put in the juicer while they are abundant.

Stinging nettle is looking at its prime at my place at the moment. Its not so common to have this plant in your backyard, but with some planning and maintenance, its a great health investment to have a little patch. Nettles (Urtica dioica) are such a valuable herb with a high nutritional content, providing vitamins A,B1 and 2, C,E,K and beta-carotene. Minerals include, calcium, potassium, silica, iron, manganese and copper.

The tops are best collected during its spring flush before flowering and then again in autumn. Nettle tea is great for gout prevention, allergies, arthritic complaints, diuretic and a general nutritional tonic. It has quite an uplifting effect on overall energy and imbues a feeling of wellbeing.

Because of its impressive nutritional content it is a great herb for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and will help increase milk production.

When collecting, use a flat basket that you can put right down beside the nettle you are cutting, allowing it to fall into the basket, avoiding contact with that nasty sting. Leave it to dry on the same basket in an airy place, out of sunlight, giving it a gentle shake or stir with a utensil every day for a couple of days. In warm weather it dries quite quickly and does retain a bit of its sting until steeped or cooked, so the less handling the better. Of course you can use it fresh in soups and stews, in the juicer or make an infusion. I am enjoying a morning cup of nettle tea to kick start my day at the moment.

To prevent spreading roots can either be peeled back and trimmed in winter or contained within an edge at least 150mm deep. An old bath or trough works well. Keep flowering tops trimmed off before seeding to prevent uncontrolled spread. Its a good idea to keep the patch narrow enough to be able to harvest easily from the edges. This is not a plant you want to be moving through very much! So plan its spot carefully. Or if you’re the foraging type, they often grow in paddocks under macrocarpa trees, best check with the farmer first!

Be well Naturally,
Ali