Thursday 13 May 2010

nature's medicines in our back gardens

I apologise if you are all heartily sick of hearing about nettles, but I continue to be amazed by their many uses! These are truly an under-rated plant. Not only are the ponies having nettle tea to detox, and protect their laminae, but we are eating large amounts of it as a vegetable. There is a link to my nettle recipes from last year HERE. In addition to that, here is our current favourite soup recipe. All my kids have second helpings of this -- it's a real hit.

Nettle and Pea Soup

1 0nion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1/2 a carrier bag full of nettle tops ( I didn't have enough when we suddenly had an unexpected visitor, and bulked mine out with some hop shoots and goosegrass from the garden)
vegetable stock
1 mugfull of peas ( frozen is fine)
6 mint leaves and a couple of sprigs of marjoram
salt and black pepper
Greek yoghurt

sweat the onion in a small bit of olive oil. When it is done, add the finely chopped garlic and cook for another minute or so.
Add all your greens to the pan, and add enough vegetable stock to cover them all.
Cook gently for 5 to 10 minutes until all tender.
Remove from the heat, add the herbs, and liquidise.
Season with salt and lots of black pepper.
Serve with a large spoon of greek yoghurt on top.

Best with homemade flatbread, or cheese scones!

Another all-time favourite in our household is Nettle and Cauliflower cheese. You can't beat nettles served in a cheese sauce!

My sister and I debating our variations on nettle recipes!

It felt like we had hit rock bottom with Bethan last week. On top of everything else that was an issue for her, the weather warmed up and she started to show all the classic signs of sweetitch :( She rubbed the top of her tail raw almost overnight, and she had the typical pustules all down her crest and in her mane. I could have cried when I saw it - poor little pony. If I had been expecting it, I would have been prepared earlier in the season, but as it was a bolt from the blue, I had no treatments to hand. I had to wait for Monday before I could go out and buy her a fly rug. I don't want to treat her with DEET, as it's such toxic stuff, and I am allergic to Benzyl Benzoate so can't use that, even if I wanted to. So I did my research, and interestingly, two herbs came up in my search. Guess what.... Dandelions and nettles! Dandelions are high in B vitamins and potassium, and there is research shown in humans that Thiamine ( a B vitamin) is a strong deterrent to biting midges. Dandelions she is choosing anyway, and I also added Brewers yeast and garlic to her feed. Nettles, it turns out, have soothing properties for allergic itching when the tea is used as a wash for the affected area. Aren't they marvellous? So I washed her with nettle tea, applied some Cream to the sores, and covered her with a new fly rug. The cream I am using on her is Itch Cream, from Global herbs. I have not used it before, but I regard their products very highly. I have had some near miraculous results in the past from their Laminitis products.
So now I just have to cross my fingers, and wait and see. It's difficult to judge at the moment, as the weather has actually got a bit colder again.
Here she is, sporting her new rug. Despite Piper's brief strop about not being the centre of attention for the photo, the three girls are quite a little gang now.


Clare Wassermann said...

Hey thanks for the recipe - I'm going to try that. I cooked goosegrass for the first time last week and felt I had to blog about it as it was lovely.Have you tried homeopathy for you horse?

A mermaid in the attic said...

I simply must know where you got your stockings!!! I'd never seen a nettle and didn't think we had them here, until just last spring I pulled up a weed in the garden and realised, too late, that it must have been a nettle...OOWW! :)

Valerianna said...

I am QUITE a nettle fan myself! When I am really dragging, I take a large handful of nettle, cut up some kelp, and put them in a quart sized glass jar. I make a strong infusion, pouring boiling water over it, sealing the lid and waiting at least 4 hours to drink. Its an amazing, green healer and rejuvenator. I drain and have it throughout the day. Its an infusion recommended by Susun Weed- a very well known hebalist here in the US. I added the kelp to the brew as its one of my important plant allies.

The best nettle soup I ever had was a traditional Romanian recipe that a friend's Romanian sister in law brought over one time when I was sick. If I can find the secret, I'll pass it along, I've been trying to find it for years, though. Thanks for your recipes!

Yarrow said...

Sorry to hear about Bethan's setback. When we first got Merlin, he was in a terrible state with sweetitch. Over time, we've almost cured it, using the sweetitch remedy, which I think is from Global herbs, called Stopitch. Also, I've had great success with the homeopathy treatment for sweetitch. This year, we seem to be winning!!!

Bovey Belle said...

I've only just started following your blog, and need to read back and find out who's who with your ponies. However, I know that Bethan is the New Girl. If you haven't tried it before, get hold of some Avon Skin So Soft bath oil and/or after bath spray. My friend has an itchy black Welsh Cob who the midges absolutely ADORE (we think it's because he's SMELLY!)

Since she's been using the Skin So Soft morning and evening, she has had none of him being plagued with midges and any slight tendency to Sweet Itch has been nipped in the bud. It works on humans too - she sprayed some on my hair and when I washed it there were dead midges floating in the water! Apparently they issue it in the Army now, to soldiers going to the tropics . . . I hope that it helps Bethan too. Even if she does smell like a Tart's Boudoir . . .

Danielle Barlow said...

Clare - I do use homeopathy sometimes, though I haven't with Bethan yet, as I haven't had much success with it for sweetitch in the past. I might try again as Kim says it has worked for her :)
Christina - the best sock shop EVER!
Valerianna - thanks for the tip! I don't have access to kelp, though I shall look out for it ( off to Lundy island tomorrow!)
Yarrow- aah, good to know it works. They have a product called Skratch, which was going to be my second line of defense if this doesn't work.
Bovey Belle- that's really interesting. I looked it up, and it seems it has been really effective with people. I shall have to get hold of some and see what the ingredients are - I'm trying to avoid some of the nastier chemicals, but it sounds like the Avon product might not have them in. Thankyou :)

Aisling Kiernan said...

You are quite right about nettles being great for itch. My Grandad was a great fan of the healing properties of nettles. There are so many amazing healing properties in the common plants that grow all around us. What a shame we have moved so far from Nature. It is great to see people like yourself sharing their knowledge and experience of using plants for healing. Hope Bethan keeps well from here on.

Rhandir said...

Have just seen this thread on the Horse and Hound BB
Thought it might interest you.

Unknown said...

What lovely recipes, the only nettles we have around where I live are stinging nettles, these are not what you are using is it?
We have a month of gnats akin to midges and just as blood thirsty, I too use Avon Skin so Soft, works like a charm on me and the horses. I also start giving them garlic in the spring and through summer, this greatly helps with flys and builds their immune systems.

The Equestrian Vagabond said...

that recipe sounds and looks good! next time I'm around nettles, I'm going to try it!
- The Equestrian Vagabond

mycuriousteaparty said...

My son drinks nettle tea for his hayfever, best remedy yet!

Annlyn Huang said...

You have a beautiful life.


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