Hemp Nettle in Raspberries

Hemp Nettle the thorn in my side

If you had asked me four years ago what Hemp Nettle was I would have looked at you blankly. When I first began taking care of the large vegetable garden I now run, along with its half-acre raspberry patch, my biggest weed issues were run of the mill chick weed and lambs quarter. These weeds are common, easy to identify, and fairly manageable. I was not concerned with them; they were a nuisance nothing more. Then I began to notice a new type of weed; at first there was just a few in the raspberry patch and I wasn’t worried. I have noticed that weeds tend to grow among plants that they closely resemble, perhaps as a defense mechanism and it took me awhile to realize how wide spread the infestation truly was.   This is a picture of part of my patch as you can see it is relatively large; the rows were each about 270ft long. I struggled a few years to irrigate it properly, but after a while realized the rows were just too long for enough water to flow evenly from one end of row to the other end.   To fix this issue I cut each row down to about 170 ft. and then purchased some very nice a soaker hoses off Amazon; I used the Dramm Color storm ¾, 50 ft hoses. All this to say a large 150 sq. ft. area of the garden was not being weeded or cultivated; by the end of last summer I had so much Hemp Nettle growing in this area and throughout the raspberry patch it was completely out of control. The plants by July were up to my waist in height and threatening to encroach into the rest of my garden. As you can see by the picture below the Hemp Nettle looks very similar to the raspberries. Only by looking closely at the leaves and by noticing the plants small pink blossoms can you really see the difference between the two plants.

This summer I waged a never ending war against this weed. I mostly cut it back with my Husqvarna brush cutter and managed to keep most of the weeds under control by cutting, mowing, and tilling the patch whenever I had time all summer. The Hemp Nettle is so tough though that even now after many frosts it is still going strong; I took the pictures above this afternoon. Hemp Nettle is considered a noxious weed in Alaska and parts of Canada and I can testify from experience that you do not want this weed in your garden or berry patch. I write this report merely to say if you ever see this weed in your patch destroy it with speed and finality; if you give it an inch it will take a mile and you will have to fight every step of the way to get that land back. Here are a few links about how to identify Hemp Nettle and ways to fight it. https://www.uaf.edu/ces/ipm/profiles/GABI.pdf, http://www.farms.com/field-guide/weed-management/hemp-nettle.aspx, http://www.producer.com/2015/06/weed-of-the-week-hemp-nettle/,  AB Delta Junction






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