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Nettles or not

Maybe you ve all discussed this before.  But I would still be interested and grateful for thoughts. Ken Thompson seems to say there are plenty of nettles around and anyway butterflies and moths won't use garden patches. I have just moved to a garden with about 30 square metres of nettles,  easy enough to dig out but should I? Or leave a smaller patch? Or trust Mr Thompson? 


  • I don't know who Ken Thompson is but I'd say nettles do have their uses - both for wildlife and for making a liquid feed.
    30 m2 sounds rather a lot but it depends on the total size of your plot as to whether you leave it or reduce it :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,987
    I agree with @philippasmith2. Great as a feed if you want to collect some. Nettles have thrived here much longer than usual, due to the mild autumn, but it depends on what you want to have. 30 m sq is different from 30 sq m too. The former is a large area, while the latter isn't.  :)

    There isn't much point taking them out unless you then do something else with the space. they'll just re colonise it all.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Sorry to have quoted him as though everyone knows him. He actually wrote a book called No Nettles Required about wildlife gardening and is a journalist and scientist I think. You make a good point about the size of the whole plot. It's big but I won't be growing veg, just wanted to do my best for wildlife but have a nice looking garden too.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,987
    The point about nettles, or any other wildlife friendly plant is - check what else is growing in your immediate area. I don't really bother with nettles in the garden, because I'm surrounded by fields, footpaths and verges etc which are full of them.  :)

    There are lots of other plants, and methods, to encourage and sustain wildlife of all sorts, so if you want some suggestions, there will be plenty of advice for that. A pond, logs, hidey holes etc. are all of use to almost everything.  A lot depends on the type of wildlife you have around too.   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Thank you both very much and I'll check out my surroundings. I'm a mad planter so would definitely fill it up with things I like better. And I'll try to understand measuring, even at 70.
  • No need to apologise @janestevens990 - there are so many garden gurus that it can be difficult to keep track of them all  :)
    I'd still say that if you have space for a patch of nettles, you ( and others ) will find them useful.
    Perhaps if you posted a photo or two, there are many on here who could offer some advice and ideas to help you achieve your goal 
    Always worth asking anyway.
  • Thank you kindly. I'm a bit full of ideas myself at the moment so may do that when I can be properly specific. In the meantime I would be interested to know if anyone whohas nettles in their garden has actually experienced them performing their butterfly and moth nursery tasks? Chris Skinner on radio Norfolk tells us that you can see the eggs and larvae if you look carefully, not now presumably, and he suggests cutting them down in July so the second brooders get a chance at fresh new nettles.  Just wondered about experience of this. Thanks again
  • And its clear I'm a bit addicted to gardening gurus. That's 2 already!
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,849
    My garden is full of Nettle Tap moths thanks to a small patch of nettles. You do need flowers that the adult moths like too but they're not especially fussy. I find Angle Shade moth caterpillars on my nettles regularly and loads of other inverts. It definitely helps to scythe some of them back before they get too big so you get fresh side shoots which are easier food for caterpillars. I love nettle tea in the spring too so I keep a patch just for that.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,149
    Another Chris Skinner fan here @janestevens990  😊 and we live near and walk at High Ash Farm. 

    I would say it all depends on how big your garden is, where abouts you are and what grows around you. 

    Let’s find out more about your garden 😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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