Nettle is a perennial weed that survives from year to year and flowers more than once. To see the nettle thrive with joy, they are germinated in spring. When favorable conditions dive into play, the underground stems rhizomes emerge that go hand in hand with the growth of leaves.
The blooming season continues from March till June. Pollination of the plant occurs by pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, and birds. The flowers of the plant develop into a small and dry one-seeded fruits. The nettle plant has the ability to re-seed vigorously if the favorable conditions continue to persist.
Stinging nettles are ready to harvest when they are about a foot tall (minimum) that usually happens 80 to 90 days after sowing the seeds. The finest quality of nettles can be obtained in the first few weeks of spring as the leaves are young and soft.
The process of harvest can be pursued till summer but the stalk and stems become fibrous so just top leaves are picked. Another key target is to harvest the leaves before the blooming season because the arrival of flowers results in leaves becoming bitter and developing certain gritty particles that prove to be irritable for the human urinary tract.
Harvesting nettles is a tough job because you have to be careful about not getting in contact with the plant. Wear gloves and stay fully clothed while doing the job. It is recommended to be armed with long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and firm shoes.
The stings are for real.
The nettle plant is harvested for its leaves, stem, and rhizomes.
To obtain the stems of the plant, a cut is made 2 to 3 inches above the ground to ensure another harvest by the next midsummer. The leaves are just picked or snipped off with bare hands because they are very soft and tender.
Rhizomes are harvested by digging and lifting up the plant. The amount of rhizome can be cut according to respective needs. The plant is able to thrive even from the rhizome too.
The nettles are stored in paper bags right after cutting them. Plastic bags are not employed to do so as they do not provide the passage for air transmission. This results in condensation that welcomes the molds with open arms.
The paper bag containing nettle cuttings is stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator to be used later.
The leaves and stems can also be dried in air or by utilizing the dehydrator.