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2010 – First Harvest of the Season

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Project by Radicalfarmergal posted 04-12-2010 11:37 PM 1715 views 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We are still in the first half of April, before the deciduous trees have grown their new leaves or our tulips have blossomed. We still have a month before our average last frost date. Our traditional first harvest, asparagus, is just starting to poke up from the soil, but we have already enjoyed our first home-grown harvest of the season!

Early this afternoon, my youngest son and I walked down to our beautiful, healthy and lush patch of Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica). Due to their unfriendly, annoying, stinging nature, I have been trying to eradicate this patch for four years by pulling out the plants, chopping them with a scythe, letting the chickens and goats have unrestricted access to them – all to no avail. The patch is thicker, bigger and healthier than when we moved into this old farm house.

Armed with gloves and a pair of scissors, my son carefully harvested a bowl of the nettle tops, just the top three or four inches. (He was having so much fun he wanted to do all the harvesting.) We brought our treasure up to the house, carefully rinsed them in a colander and sautéed them in a dab of butter. We sprinkled them with a little Greek seasoning and, with a bit of trepidation, ate them. My son preferred his alone. I chopped my portion into small pieces and tucked them inside a cheese and nettle omelet. To our surprise, they really did taste delicious! They tasted a little like spinach but with almost a nutty flavor mixed in as well. Those nettles have earned a place on our little farm.

Remember my book review on perennial vegetables? That is where I first learned about how healthy and delicious nettles can be if they are harvested when they are young and tender and cooked properly. Basically, nettles need to be steamed or sautéed until wilted to remove the sting before eating. As plants, nettles are dynamic accumulators, retrieving nutrients from the earth and storing them in the leaves and stems. When we eat the nettles, we benefit from the stored protein, vitamin A and any other minerals the plant was able to extract from the soil. There are many recipe ideas for nettles on the Internet. Probably any recipe that includes cooked spinach would work just as well with the substitution of nettles.

If any of you have access to a patch of wood nettles or stinging nettles, either wild or cultivated, gather up your courage, some gloves and scissors, and go harvest some too!

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout



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Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1888 days
hardiness zone 5b

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17 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14682 posts in 2626 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-13-2010 01:33 AM

I’ve heard that they are really good for you. Lots of health benefits.

You were brave to try it, though .. not sure if I’d get anyone around here to try them.
Once again – you are my hero! lol

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Ingrid's profile

Ingrid

56 posts in 2005 days
hardiness zone 5

posted 04-13-2010 03:38 AM

I used to have these at my last house. I never knew you could eat them.

-- A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3807 posts in 2255 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 04-13-2010 04:24 AM

Robin, you are amazing! :) And as MsDeb said, “Brave” as is your young son.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2406 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 04-13-2010 03:41 PM

Brave is right.I never would of thought of eating them.They used to grow at the cottage I used to have and I hated them things soooo much.Glad you liked them.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

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Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1888 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-14-2010 02:20 AM

Thanks for all your comments. Isn’t it funny how one’s perspective about something can change? I think the hardest part is getting over the idea of eating something that stings when you touch it. Wanting to be a positive, open-minded example for my children helps give me courage to try new things. They think I am intrepid, therefore I aspire to be. I have to tell you, the nettles were much easier to harvest and cook than I had imagined and they really do taste good. Once they are cooked, the sting is completely gone and you can chop it up and put in a quiche or lasagna and everyone will ask you, where did you get that terrific tasting spinach?

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1888 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-17-2010 10:26 PM

I put chopped up nettles in a chicken pot pie for dinner, yum!

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View superdad's profile

superdad

45 posts in 1599 days
hardiness zone 6b

posted 05-07-2010 06:09 PM

That’s really neat. It’s really cool that what once was a thorn in your side ended up being a meal in your stomach. I’m glad you gave it a try.

-- Cooking, weeding, and growing what I can in Brampton. -Joe (Superdad)

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14682 posts in 2626 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-07-2010 08:23 PM

I thought of you A LOT this week—I just barely touched a nettle plant while in the garden and my finger burned, throbbed and then felt numb for a couple of days. “Curses” I thought.. and then “Yummy???? That would be an evil payback” but I chickened out and it is now in my fire bin.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1888 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-07-2010 11:37 PM

Debbie, if you have nettles growing, you might have an “antidote” herb growing nearby. If you get a nettle sting, you can allegedly rub the area with the leaves from this plant and the sting goes away. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name, but I can take a photo of it when it gets a bit bigger. It has distinctive yellow/orange flowers and light green roundish leaves. We call them “poppers” because when you touch the ripe seed pod, the pod explodes open and the seeds go flying. My sons love to play with them in the fall and as a result we have many, many poppers down in our wild area. Other than this herb, mud, cold water or a baking soda paste can help if you get a really bad sting. My opinion is eat them into submission!

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3807 posts in 2255 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-08-2010 12:34 AM

Are you thinking of ‘jewel weed’? It is also an antidote for poison ivy. To date, I have never suffered from poison ivy so I can’t verify that this works, but I have heard this froma friend who did use it.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14682 posts in 2626 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-08-2010 03:34 AM

I’ll have to look up the plant so I can recognize it.
I tried the cold water trick but it just seemed to make the finger go numb but still affected. It’s all better now.
Eating them still sounds like a great payback .. if only I was as brave as you!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1888 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-08-2010 02:50 PM

Iris, you are absolutely amazing. I looked up Jewel weed and the photos are identical to the plant that is supposed to be the antidote. Like Iris, I have not tried it because I haven’t been stung by nettles or poison ivy since I found out it is a “cure”. Here is a link about Jewel weed if anyone is interested. The funniest thing to me, is that they grow right next to each other in the wild part of the back yard. I am glad you are feeling better, the sting is quite annoying!

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View jroot's profile

jroot

5063 posts in 2256 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-09-2010 04:28 PM

I’ve got jewel weed galore coming up in one bed, .... and in between the stones of the patio …. and in other gardens. LOL Fortunately, they pull out really easily.

I did not know about its beneificiary traits with respect to poison ivy. I’ll have to keep a few.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

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Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1888 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-12-2010 03:33 PM

Jroot, as you already know, don’t let the Jewel weed flower and go to seed or they will spread and spread and take over your beautiful gardens.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14682 posts in 2626 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 06-06-2012 11:39 PM

I just read this little tidbit of information on stinging nettle… ” Boiling the plant with salt produces a liquor that can substitute for rennet”

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View lavender22's profile

lavender22

85 posts in 578 days
hardiness zone 8a

posted 02-23-2013 11:13 PM

Wow! You are brave:)

-- I love hostas:)

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Radicalfarmergal

4300 posts in 1888 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 02-26-2013 12:58 AM

At first it required courage. Now we look forward to meals made with tasty, tender young green nettles each spring.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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