Since last summer I have been so dejected with my garden. The extreme heat killed everything last year. I haven’t even been game to weed. With winter, has come enough cool weather and moisture for stuff to start growing again. Any greenery is good as far as I’m concerned.
So what has actually been happening in my garden? Besides the weeds, there has been plenty that has self-seeded. Open pollinated seeds are wonderful things. With absolute neglect and chicken invasion (we moved the coop, and it is STILL not secure), we have plenty of silver beet, mustard, carrots, onions, dill, leeks, lettuces, wheat, oats, marigolds and parsnips growing. And that is just what I can see at a glance. I’m not really game to get out there and hunt around too much, otherwise the chickens will follow behind and dig up all the goodies.
We also have masses of stinging nettles. These are great to dig back into the garden as a green manure, but I prefer to eat them. Most people look at me like I’m a martian when I mention that stinging nettles are one of my favourite vegetables. The first obvious question is: “Doesn’t it sting when you eat it?”
No, stinging nettles don’t sting when you eat them, but that is only after it has been plunged into boiling water. Both this and vinegar neutralise the sting. Of course, picking it and preparing it is quite a treacherous path. I once picked nettles while wearing those thin latex gloves – even through two pairs, you will get stung! I had to soak my hands in vinegar, rather than the usual quick wipe over. To pick nettles you need thick rubber gloves. The ones you buy to wash dishes with are perfect.
So what do you do with the nettles, once they are picked? Besides washing them thoroughly, they can be cooked and used in place of spinach or silver beet. The flavour is far superior to either of these greens. My favourite recipe is a greek one that involves homemade filo, fetta, onions, dill and nettles. You mix up everything and roll it up in the filo. It is then baked in the oven and eaten warm – YUMMO!