2011 Northeast SARE Farmer Grant
Project Title: “What Urtica dioca L. Can Do For Farmers
Project Leader: Myra Bonhage-Hale, MSW
Address: La Paix Herb Farm, 3052 Crooked Run Rd., Alum Bridge, WV 26321
Telephone: (304) 269-7681 Best Time to Call: Noon – 1 p.m.
E-Mail Address: email@example.com SARE request: $ 7826.
I intend to research the use of stinging nettle (Urtica dioca L.) as both a potential organic fertilizer and herbicide. Previous studies indicate fermented or fresh stinging nettle water makes a good fertilizer and herbicide (depending on the strength of the mixture).
To examine fertilization efficacy, stinging nettle compost tea and hydrosol will be applied to tomato plants as a foliar spray. The results of the applications of the formulas will be compared with a commercial organic fertilizer and a control bed.
To explore stinging nettle compost tea as an herbicide, I will experiment with using undiluted stinging nettle compost tea to eradicate weeds prior to preparing beds for planting. The results will be compared to hand weeding beds in preparation for planting.
Soil analysis will be conducted when the fertilizers are first applied and six months after their application to ascertain long time effects on soil nutrition. Plant tissue analysis comparisons will be made between plants prior to application of the four preparations and in monthly applications thereafter (July through October).
Because stinging nettle is easy to grow almost anywhere in the world, the use of it as a fertilizer could greatly enhance the organic farmer’s produce and soil while saving time, energy and money. Environmental costs of delivering fertilizers from great distances, thus increasing our carbon footprint, would also be eliminated or greatly reduced.