Yay, today is the Winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere!! It sure does feel like the shortest day of the year. Still dark outside at 0730. Even though it really is only the start of Winter knowing that each day is getting a little longer now will help me get through the cold, a little positivity to hold on to.
I am thinning out the nettle. I was treating it like a plant and being all gentle with it. Not harvesting too much from any one plant. I realised this morning when I could barely see the garlic that I was being too kind. It is a weed after all.
I have started cutting it back, I am aiming to cut about 90% of it down to the soil. This will give the garlic some light and space. It also means I can get the weeds out with out getting stung. I have only done about a quarter. I am trialing drying it like mint or peppermint to save on power. I feel I have nothing to loose as I have so much more out there. My plan is to keep the nettle under control and only let one set seed. If all these set seed I would be in big trouble I think!
I have left the self seeded flat leaf parsley in there. I have pulled out the self seeded tomatoes as they will not be able to survive the frosts in Winter without protection.
I think I will let the inside nettle dry then attack the next quarter. Repeat til all done.
I have had this pair of cotton pajama pants for at least 10 years. I had mended a few holes over the years but they finally reached the end of their PJ life recently. I intended to cut them up and put them through the compost. Seemed like a good idea for material that is thread bare in parts. As I started cutting I thought long and hard about what I was doing. I stopped. I started cutting in strips. Now they will have a few more years of use before they reach the compost pile.
Plus I have heaps of them so I can use them all over the garden. Need to tie up the tomatoes in Spring? PJs. Need to re-stake the lop sided apple tree? PJs. Need to help the beans til they learn to hold onto the trellis properly? PJs. Need to attach wire to the fence for the sweet peas? PJs. I am only limited by my own imagination.
From this to this
I made the decision to add a somewhat invasive weed into my garden about a year or 2 ago so that I could utilise its many purposes. So far I have not regretted this decision.
I have made basil and nettle pesto. Nettle, spinach, carrot tops and kale barley risotto. Yesterday I made nettle tea. More specifically I dehydrated nettle for Winter tea.
I picked a heap for the risotto and the next day I am almost certain that it had all grown back so I picked a heap more for dehydrating.
I rinsed it, pulled all the leaves off, and managed to turn enough stuff off in the house that the solar panels could run the dehydrator on a not particularly sunny day.
I filled the dehydrator, the nettle leave shrunk down so much that I ended up with a large jar full.
My dilemma is around the waste. I rarely wear gardening gloves. I like to feel what is going on in the soil, the plants, nature in general. I feel like I lose a lot of dexterity and I am somewhat disconnected from what I am doing. I also seem to crush a lot of plants unintentionally as I wield my cumbersome gloves. I am a nurse, I create unconscionable amounts of waste at work. Horrible, horrible amounts. Largely unavoidable due to single use items to prevent spread of infection.
I do try really hard at home not to create waste. When I was buying nettle tea it came in plastic. I thought growing my own may reduce one more bit of plastic in my life. But how does one comfortably pick nettle?
I dropped a pair of gloves on the floor at work about 18 months ago. They would usually then be thrown out due to hygiene. I kept them and have used them approximately 8 or 10 times picking nettle. I know they don’t have a long life ahead of them, I am sure they will become brittle and crack in time. Which is worse, annual plastic nettle tea or who knows what they are made from gloves?