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.

Nettle soup

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.

Nettle pesto

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.

nettles hanging

I retted and dried them as instructed per the internet.

nettles on sheet

I was able to identify the fibers in the nettle stalks.

nettle fiber

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.

nettle fibers in bag

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!

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4 Responses to Nettles

  1. Michelle says:

    Now I have an urge to find nettles for pesto!!!

  2. Vanda Burns says:

    I believe I saw someone on u-tube combing the nettle fibers with those wool combs to separate the fibers. Another person had a metal short tooth kind of comb to do it. Hope this helps. vanda

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Vanda! I am still slowly separating the fibers from the stalks. other chores are taking priority over this. But once I am done, I will definitely try wool combs on the fiber I get.

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