Monday, 21 June 2010

Purin d'Ortie



Stinging nettles, Urtica dioica and the annual Urtica urens, friend or foe?
Of course it all depends on your view, but as far as the French are concerned they're very much on side.

Being rich in nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, oligoelements, encymes, and trace minerals, they are held in such high regard that there is even a society devoted to them, the Association des Amis d'Ortie!

Purin d'ortie is liquid nettle manure. A wholly natural fertiliser which is popular even with non organic gardeners. A simple concoction which can be used as a drench or a foliar feed, I count myself lucky that I have nettles in abundance growing on waste ground near the river at the back of Le Banquet. A true compost mine




Making the 'brew' is a simple affair. I literally take the sheers out back and chop as many nettle tops as I can stuff into a large tub, fill it with water and let it ferment for anything up to two weeks. Once the bubbles stop rising to the top, it's ready. Be warned though, this stuff stinks, it really smells, think silage, so it's sensible if the tub has a lid.

To use it as a drench, I dilute it to about ten percent. For a foliar spray, a weaker solution is effective and easily absorbed.



Horsetail, Equisetum arvense, is also commonly used to make a similar preparation and indeed just about all weeds can be 'drowned' in this way and the resulting sludge chucked on the compost heap as an activator, nothing is more satisying than putting annoying perennial and annual weeds to good use.

22 comments:

  1. Wow, I never knew that they were used that way! Carla

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  2. Sigh. Compost tea surrounds me at every turn. It looks like wonderful stuff.

    Have you ever eaten your nettles?

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  3. Now there's food for thought Rob - I have been pulling out horsetail by the bucket at the allotment today :) Have nettles too - wonder if it's possible to mix and match.

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  4. France is exactly where I discovered stinging nettles.

    About as fun as the saddle back caterpillars.

    Now you teach me I must respect them!

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  5. How tall are those equisetum? They look similar to mine. But, lacking a familiar object to establish relative scale, "yours" appear to be much larger. I'm wondering if perhaps I've misidentified my Equisetum arvense.

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  6. I did not know, but it must be good stuff.

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  7. That was fascinating. I knew they were loved for their pollinator activity, but didn't know about the manure tea. I don't have any here although I've seen them sold by herb farmers.~~Dee

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  8. I've actually known about purin for a long time- Oregon Public Television did a gardening show for awhile called "Garden Smart" and they visited a woman running a famous organic garden in France...it's also where I learned about the 'grelinette', which we call a broadfork.

    Anyway, one thing I have read is that rain water is best for fermenting a purin- municipal tap water with chlorine in it won't do the job properly.

    I ordered nettle seeds just so I could make some! Comfrey, too; that's great for your compost pile. Pulls stuff (minerals) up deep out of the ground and makes it bioavailable to your plants.

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  9. It is good to know that annoying weeds can be useful. I hadn't heard about either being used as a compost activator.

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  10. I've made it Rob and that smell lingers ...

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  11. I have heard of this but never thought much about it. Now I know what to do with the nettles. Thanks. Diane

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  12. Wow, most interesting, Rob! I had no clue. Happy Summer gardening :)

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  13. This is so cool. I'm converting my fron tlwan to stinging nettles--should keep the neighborhood dogs away, too.

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  14. I saw the picture of stinging nettle and wondered why someone would grow this. Now I know! I've learned something new today. Thank you!

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  15. Nothing better than a good... compost:-)

    We also have that society here in Sweden, that celebrates the lovely sting nettle. Best soup ingredient ever!

    Have a ncice week, we celebrate our Midsummer here this Friday. Big weekend for us vikings!
    Hillevi.

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  16. What good information, Rob, thanks! I had a serious run in with the nettles when offspring Brokenbeat first bought his house in Asheville. A large stand of it was by the side. I thought it was mint and ran my hands through it. OUCH! What a clever way to use the weeds, making that tea. Must give it a try! :-)
    Frances

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  17. Hi Rob,

    Great site!! Trying to find any information at all on evergreens for the Dordogne area.... any clues? We have a small courtyard in a village house near Domme which I need to planting and beautifying... and can't find any information online re evergreens.....

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!

    Cheers
    Leif

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  18. What an interesting post. Your bucket reminds me of the 'soup' we used to make as kids with various leaves from the garden. We'd forget about it and let it stew until the smell drew us back to dump it out. Your sludge is more useful than ours, though!
    RE the society for nettles, I'm not going to make any comments about the French determination to be such good cooks that they can take the most disgusting items and make them edible. Like snails (which no one will ever convince me are edible) and nettles. Nope, I'm not mentioning anything about that ;-)

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  19. Hi Rob! Can I add one more use for this plant? Stinging nettle plus water makes a great rinse for hair.

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  20. Not friends. I was in GB a few years back, in Wales with a garden group I was leading around, got extra excited about a shot of a beautiful field of rape and walked right into a patch, in shorts. Not pretty.

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  21. Yes, we do that too! It's very good for the plants. We eat them as well:) Nettle soup is lovely!
    Charlotta
    Cesars garden

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