Planting Stinging Nettle: Biodynamic Preparation 504
|Stinging nettle flourishes in the Irish cemetery of my ancestors.|
What does it mean that stinging nettle does not grow on our ranch? Obviously, our hot and dry Mediterranean climate does not invite nettle, but energetically, what are we missing? Rudolf Steiner said it is the one Biodynamic preparation plant (504) for which there is no substitute.
I first remember nettle thick and green along the river paths we hiked in Girl Scouts, the plant that retaliated with red burning spots on our legs if we dared to brush against it. Nettle is so strong in spirit that when it is processed for a compost preparation, it is not encased in animal sheaths of any sort when buried. Steiner said that using the compost prep nettle is “like an infusion of intelligence for the soil” (Agriculture, 100). Once our Biodynamic consultant made a ferment of it to fertilize lavender transplants. It stank horribly, but the lavender flourished. Nettle supports humus-making in the soil.
|Garden bed to be prepared for nettle.|
Since it is recommended to grow all the Biodynamic plants in one’s garden, today we prepare a bed for the nettle. I cannot believe I am planting such a prickly plant which until recently I considered a weed among the herbs and onions, next to the lemon verbena! We choose a location that is not on the main drag of the garden path, one that gets afternoon shade, an area we will water with greater frequency―hardly in our native plant-for-the ranch philosophy! However, both farming and gardening involve a conscious working with nature, often planting vegetables, flowers, and vines that are not native. (The farmer as quintessential.) So we remove bind weed, dig in compost, and welcome a strong presence that will be the homeopathic representative of nettle for our garden and ranch.