I’ll bet if you got a bunch of herbalists in a room together, and asked them what their favorite herb was, about 50% of them would say stinging nettles, and the other 50% would rank it high up in their top five. Why is a plant that is full of little hairs that are basically like hypodermic needles that give you a good sting so popular? Two reasons. Herbalists are a crazy (good crazy) bunch, and also nettles are a powerful ally to have.
One of my first cooking experiences involved a tortilla, ramen noodles, shredded cheese, and a microwave. That is cooking failure. I may not be the best home cook in the world, but I’m worlds away from being the “cook” I was 15 years ago. My current garden is like that…years of making botanical mistakes to learn from, in order to have something I can be proud of. Is it the best garden ever? Far from it, but for me, it’s constantly evolving, getting better, and is a place I find endlessly fascinating.
Every year, I start many seeds, but I allow the bleakness of winter seep into my confidence in them (well, mostly my confidence in me). I plant, water, and check on them frequently, but it isn’t until I start seeing germination that I believe that they’ll actually do anything. And then, I become overwhelmingly happy, excited, and relieved when I see the very first sprout – I actually scream – because I know that in the days following, many more seedlings will be unfurling from their little potted patches of soil.