My first nettle experiment was making nettle tea. Instructions are easy to find all over the web from You Tube to environmental blogs.
Best time for picking is in early spring April to June at the very latest because then the shoots toughen up.
- to wear gloves
- to avoid the leaf edges because they're the bits that sting
- to choose new top shoots only.
- to wash my nettle tips in a basin of water as soon as I got them home. That stops them stinging
- not to collect too many at a time. (Partners are surprisingly fractious when they come home to a fridge full of nettles when they're looking for a simple snack)
- to fill a family teapot with washed nettle tips and fill the pot with boiling water.
- the longer the brew stands, the stronger it is.
Any spare nettle tea, I strain into a jar with a lid. I can then supply myself with tea all day long by filling a mug and heating it for a minute in the microwave.
So what has this to do with writing?
Obviously it is another string for a character's bow. Environmental characters will be in vogue for some time to come. Even if you hate the tea, you will be able to give a convincing description of the pain a stinging nettle can inflict or the taste that drives another character to use his tea to water his great-aunt's aspidistra.
And that, of course, will, in the end, endear him to the old lady who leaves him her fortune because it is an excellent fertiliser which grows an aspidistra as flourishing as Jack's beanstalk.
The other benefit could be to give more zip to you and your writing. The nettle is full of health-giving properties. Drinking three cups of nettle tea a day for the past five days has certainly boosted my energy and enthusiasm for life.
Try it and let me know.