Skip to Content

Why You Should Be Growing A Nettle Patch!

Sharing is caring!

Everyone knows nettles as a fearsome weed to be avoided and dug up at first sight. But did you know that nettles can be incredibly useful in the garden – here’s why…

Nettle Fertiliser

Nettles are a fantastic source of nitrogen, iron, potassium, copper, zinc, magnesium, and calcium, making them an excellent fertiliser for most garden plants.

Nettle tea can be used as a general-purpose fertiliser for various garden plants, offering a rich nutrient profile due to its natural plant-derived composition. To use the fertiliser, dilute it with water at a ratio of approximately 1:10 (nettle tea to water) and apply it to the soil or as a foliar spray on your plants.

Nettles make a high-nitrogen feed, so they are superb at promoting leafy green growth. In fact there aren’t many organic fertilisers that can compete with nettles regarding nitrogen levels.

Harvesting Nettles
Harvesting Nettles

How to Make Nettle Fertiliser

To make a nettle fertiliser, follow these simple steps:

  1. Gather the nettles: Select a group of nettles and cut the leaves and stems using gloves and shears to avoid being stung. Collect enough nettles to fill a large container such as a bucket or a barrel.
  2. Prepare the container: Chop the nettle leaves and stems and place them in the container. The container size will depend on the amount of nettle tea you want to create, but ensure there is enough room to pour water over the nettles without overflowing.
  3. Add water: Fill the container with water, covering the nettles completely. Avoid using chlorinated water, as it may inhibit the fermentation process; rainwater is an excellent alternative.
  4. Cover and ferment: Place a breathable cover, such as gauze or a cloth, over the container to keep debris and insects out. Set the container in a shaded area and allow the nettles to ferment for at least three weeks, stirring occasionally to encourage decomposition.
  5. Strain and dilute: Once the fermentation is complete, strain the liquid through a sieve or cheesecloth, discarding the solid matter. Dilute the nettle tea with water at a ratio of one part nettle tea to ten parts water. This will create a suitable concentration for use as a fertiliser.
  6. Application: Apply the diluted nettle fertiliser to the soil around your plants, either by pouring it directly or using a watering can. Nettle fertilisers work best when applied during the growing season, providing an efficient and natural boost to your plants’ nutrient intake.
Great For Nettles
REIMEL Heavy Duty Thorn Proof Gardening Gloves Unisex
  • Leather uppers prevent nettles from stinging you
  • Long sleeves stop your arms from being stung
We earn a commission from any items purchased through this link at no charge to yourself. This helps fund what we do here!
12/08/2023 12:09 am GMT
Nettle Fertiliser
Nettle Fertiliser

Great For Compost

For the same reasons that nettles make a great fertiliser, they are also excellent for adding to your compost pile.

They are high in nitrogen, so work much the same as grass in getting your compost going and adding heat to your pile.

Because they are also packed with other nutrients, they add lots to your compost, meaning you have well-balanced compost.

Chopping up Nettles
Chopping up Nettles

Fantastic Mulch

Again, for all the same reasons above, nettles make fantastic mulch.

They will improve your soil, and add tonnes of nitrogen and other nutrients while suppressing weeds.

This makes them a really great mulch, with a large asterisk*.

That asterisk is this, ensure you don’t pick nettles with seeds on, I’m sure you can see why that could be a huge headache!

Watch out for nettle seeds
Watch out for nettle seeds.

Work As A Great Companion Plant

Aphids love nettles; they will seek them out over almost all other plants. So, say you have a nettle patch in the corner of your garden, then grow something that struggles with aphids, like lupins, next to it.

Adding onto this, because aphids love nettles, so do ladybirds. This is because they know they will find their favourite snack there.

So by having nettles, you can keep aphids away from plants you want to grow and attract everyone’s favourite aphid hunter.

A ladybird on a nettle leaf
A ladybird on a nettle leaf

Lots of butterflies also love nettles, so by having a patch, you can help to keep some caterpillars off your crops.

You will also support the butterfly population without sacrificing any of your plants, a real win-win for me.

What I often do in the garden is to pick caterpillars off any plant I don’t want them on, and pop them onto nettles.

I am not against butterflies and love seeing them in the garden, but I don’t want caterpillars feasting on my prized cabbages! So I can enjoy butterflies in the garden without worrying about what they are up to!


Many people will also eat nettles due to their high nutrient levels. Apparently they are a bit of a superfood.

This isn’t something I have tried, but there are tonnes of recipes out there.

I will say, only use nettles you grow in your own garden, don’t forage for them unless you know the area.

This is simply because people love to spray nettles with weedkiller, and you don’t want to be digesting that!

Sharing is caring!


Saturday 1st of July 2023

Another great article . The solid material left after the te is used is great to Dd to the compost heap! If dried out it is good ground up and fed to the worm bin.

Claire Bullus

Saturday 3rd of June 2023

Hi Daniel, Does it have to be stinging nettles? There are some pretty dead nettles - would they work to attract aphids away from my runner beans? Thanks, Claire


Tuesday 6th of June 2023

Dead nettles make a great companion plant but they dont work as well as a feed as regular nettles do


Wednesday 31st of May 2023

Hi Daniel,

Another excellent article, thank you. I agree with everything, just want to add a little more:

• I strongly encourage you and other readers to try nettles as a food, not only are they nutrient rich, they are very tasty too, a little peppery/cabbage like/watercress like.

• They are an excellent detox food, as they appear in spring they are a good way to get rid of any toxins that have built up over a winter of comfort food, alcohol and other indulgences.

• The best time to harvest them for food is when they are just over a foot tall, they are most nutritious at this time and the insects have not discovered them yet.

• If you are unlucky enough to get stung by nettles, Gaia has thought of this too, if you snap or cut the main stem of the nettle, white fluid will drip out, squeeze some of this fluid onto the affected skin and 'lightly rub' over the area; this is the 'antidote for the sting'. Beware dock leaves are only a placebo!

• If foraging in the countryside and you know weedkillers have not been used, be mindful of where people walk their dogs, you don't really want to be eating those!

• The many recipes available are highly varied, from soup, stews, tea, cordial, wine, beer etc.

• Dried nettle leaves can be purchased online and in some health food shops, I buy these to consume nettles out of season, I don't make nettle soup with these as I prefer the taste of fresh for nettle soup but dried nettle leaves are great for tea, adding a boost to casseroles and other types of soup.

• If you are brave enough you can eat them raw, they are delicious and strangely don't sting the inside of your mouth, roll up a washed leaf and pop it in; some country fairs even have nettle eating contests.

Hope you find this helpful and informative.

Kind regards and happy garden days,



Wednesday 31st of May 2023

Thank you so much for the response, I might have to give them a go :)