Stinging nettles can fertilize your roses! Turn this painful native perennial into a nourishing foliar spray or soil drench for your plants. Nettles contain nitrogen, potassium, magnesium and iron that make an excellent plant tonic. Here’s the recipe from Growing Roses Organically by Barbara Wilde:
1. Cut the nettles. Wearing gloves, cut the plants at around half their height. Using shears or pruners, roughly chop the plants.
2. Mix with water. Put the chopped plants in a plastic barrel or garbage can. Add 1 gallon of water for every pound of fresh nettles or for every two onces of dried nettles. Use only nonchlorinated water, preferably rainwater, as chlorine inhibits fermentation. Cover the barrel with a lid (it smells horrible).
3. Ferment for 1 to 3 weeks. Stir your nettle tea every day. Fermentation will happen faster in hot weather. When bubbles stop appearing when you stir the tea, fermentation has finished.
4. Strain the tea. Do this as soon as fermentation ceases. Store your nettles infusion in clean plastic or glass containers in a cool spot. Dump the dregs onto your compost pile.
5. Dilute before using. For foliar feeding, dilute the tea to a 5 percent solution (1/2 cup of infusion to 10 cups of water) For a soil drench, dilute it to a 10 percent solution. Apply once a month for drench or once a week for foliar spray.