Making stinging nettle manure

How to? It is as easy as this…

For years I have wanted to make this, but some how I never came to it. Now we finally did and it is so easy.

We have a lot of stinging nettle growing on our property. After winter, I just had to wait until they grew to a usable size for cutting off and collecting.

A patch with stinging nettles

I used a hedge trimmer to cut the stinging nettle off and putt on some very thick gloves to collect them.

A women collecting cut off stinging nettles with thick yellow gloves

I used a new rain barrel to prevent mold from growing and collected stinging nettle until it was ¼ full. I used the hedge trimmer to cut the stinging nettle into smaller pieces right in the rain barrel. I put the rain barrel underneath an elderberry tree, where it has shade at least a part of the day.

Cut off stinging nettles collected in a rain barrel
Stinging nettles collected in a rain barrel, cut up

The stinging nettle was topped off with water (the rain barrel is half full) and I gave it a good stir. My husband made a funny video of this.

I put on the lid, which does not close air tight, and waited for about 3 weeks.

In the mean time our fruit trees in the raised beds are struggling. We are already having a drought and the soil in the raised beds is of the heavy clayy type, which hardly holds any moisture. It will take some more years of adding compost and mulch before it will be a good soil for the plants and the trees. Against the caterpillars the stinging nettle manure will not help, but I do hope (with enough watering to go along) that it will strengthen the health of the fruit trees and will help against all of the aphids inhabiting them at the moment.

Aphids in a rolled up pear tree leaf

After about 3 weeks of waiting this was what I found after opening the lid.

Stinging nettle manure with wild yeast growing on top, in a rain barrel

It might not show on the picture very well, but the stinging nettle manure is covered with a lot of white spots. I was very disappointed thinking this was mold and I would have to throw the stinging nettle manure away. But, after doing some research on the internet, I have learned that it is no big deal. We have to filter the stinging nettle manure anyway and the plant roots only take what they want and do nothing with the mold spores. I just should not water over any leaves. Since I mostly made the stinging nettle manure for the fruit trees, that is no big deal and I was relieved. The stinging nettle manure is finished when it is not bubbling any more and besides from the mold it can also be possible to have wild yeast growing on the top, which is no problem at all.

The stinging nettle somehow fell apart completely, so we could only poor everything trough some kind of filter. We decided to try this with a burlap sack we held tight over another rain barrel. At first this worked very well, but with all of the plant material the fluid did not run trough very quickly, so this took some time and was a very stinky matter.

Stinging nettle manure being filtered trough a burlap sack to collect in a rain barrel
Filtered stinging nettle manure run trough a burlap sack and collecting in a rain barrel

The stinging nettle manure should not go bad, so I will see if the amount I made (about 50 litres) will last the season, or if I will have to make a bigger amount next spring.

I will use it to strengthen all of my fruit trees and I will use it for the vegetable plants in my raised beds (without pouring over the leaves). Since the soil in there is very poor of nutrients I think it will help the plants. I will watch the plants in other gardens very carefully, but if I see anything like aphids or other problems they will get some as well.

O je, as I have read the stinging nettle manure should be diluted 1:10, so I am just going to but a nice bottom in my watering can and fill the rest up with water. I am not sure how often I should use the stinging nettle manure, but for now I will repeat it every 2 weeks with my fruit trees in the raised beds, until I see improvement.

And we have some alleys against the aphids. We found a lot of ladybirds on our fruit trees, so we are very happy about that.

Black Ladybird on a leaf
Orange Ladybird on a leaf
Mating Ladybirds on a leaf
Ladybird eggs underneath a leaf
Ladybird eggs

A pear tree with only leaf skeletons left

O no, what has happened here?

A few days ago I was sitting in the garden enjoying the sun, when my eye fell on one of our pear trees. I thought “that tree looks kind of funny”. After a closer inspection we found that the pear tree is absolutely packed with caterpillars. As far as I could find in the internet they are the caterpillars of the brown-tail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea). The brown-tail moth is a beautiful white moth, which is active at night.

Obviously I do not really like such a massive damage on one of my trees, so first thing we did is free this tree of all of its caterpillars. There are a few small leaves left on this tree. I hope the tree will survive this attack. We fed the caterpillars to the chickens and started checking all of the other trees.

We found some more single caterpillars in a few trees, but nothing major anymore. Some caterpillars where also found on other plants, so we are checking our trees and plants regularly. While searching for the caterpillars, we also found a rose beetle

Rose beetle on a tree leaf

and a lady bug on some trees.

Lady bug on a tree leaf

What I also found where some other problems with other pear trees. One pear tree has a lot of leaves that look like they are full with these little bubbles. I think this is caused by the pear leaf blister mites (Eriophyes piri). Apparently these mites do not really damage the tree, so I am just going to leave the leaves on the tree.

Another pear tree has a few leaves with these strange orange spots. This is European pear rust caused by a fungus named Gymnosporangium sabinae. I am not sure if I should do anything about this. One article says I should take of the leaves and dispose of them in the trash. Another article says they do not hurt or damage the pear tree and I can just leave them on the tree.

A pear tree leaf with European pear rust (fungus: Gymnosporangium sabinae)

What would you do? Dispose of the leaves or just leave them on the tree?

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