Stinging nettles are great for wildlife
Stinging nettles are known to support at least 40 different insect species, including some of our more familiar and colourful butterflies and less familiar, but equally beautiful, moths. Peacock, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, comma and painted lady butterflies all have caterpillars whose only, or main, source of food is the nettle. These caterpillars, along with the aphids and other insects that feed upon them, in turn feed our woodland and garden birds throughout the spring and early summer. Later in the year small seed-eating birds, including chaffinch, bullfinch and house sparrow all benefit from the thousands of small seeds which each nettle plant produces.
Apart from these direct benefits to wildlife, gardeners in the know can also help wildlife and save themselves some money by growing and making their own nitrogen rich nettle fertiliser. Simply half fill any water tight container with nettles, make it up with water, give it an occasional stir … and wait! After a few days it will have started “brewing” – try adding some rosemary to offset the offensive smell! After 3-4 weeks of bubbling, strain off the solids to the compost heap and “serve” the remaining liquor. Diluted at 1 part nettle fertiliser to ten parts water, your garden plants will love it!