Comfrey

Leafing through my gardening book earlier in the year, I came across a plant that would seem to be every gardener’s dream come true.

It’s not edible, or strikingly beautiful, but it contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus (or in layman’s terms, nutrients that plants LOVE).

The secret is all in the roots. Apparently they go really deep, and mine up a load of good stuff from way down in the soil, which is then stored in the leaves.

You can then do a number of things with comfrey leaves:

  1. Lay them on the soil around plants: they will gradually rot down and release food into the soil
  2. Chuck some in the compost bin: a two or three inch layer will give the bin a quick blast of energy
  3. Dangle some in your water butt: it turns the water into a miracle juice that’s a quick pick me up for tomatoes, cucumbers and beans.

Comfrey

I was sold! I imagined the day when the compost bin was a veritable furnace of energy, the tomatoes were tripping on nitrogen intake, and I’d have a never-ending supply of comfrey tea in the water butt. Added to that, the little flowers would attract bees and insects – I’d be a fool not to!

My book said to look for a variety called Bocking 14, as this one apparently won’t seed itself all over the place and you shouldn’t have to spend the rest of your living days digging it up.  A quick rootle round on the t’interweb turned up a supplier, and the plants arrived shortly after.

The blurb said to put it in a spot where it wouldn’t be moved about, and it was advisable to wear gloves when handling… at this point I did wonder if I was purely introducing a posh nettle to the garden.

A location was swiftly found, and the plants went in a spot at the back of the veg plot. They’d be nicely out of the way of any ‘brush past’ incidents, and they could stay there forever to mature into fine old specimens.

After the plants had established themselves and started to grow with gusto, I decided to make some of that there comfrey tea. Donning my gloves, I pulled a load of the larger, lower leaves off and with a piece of garden netting, made a giant teabag to hang in the water butt.

After a couple of weeks, it was beginning to work its magic. The water was coming out a greeny colour, and everything I’ve watered with it seems to be romping along. The only downside is that it smells like a wrestler’s armpit. There’s a certain breathing whilst watering knack to be deployed, but that’s a small price to pay for miracle juice.

Comfrey tea and a scone anyone?

Comfrey

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11 thoughts on “Comfrey

  1. My chickens absolutely love Comfrey straight off the plant. I had read that you have to wilt it or dry it before they will eat, not mine they go after it fresh.

  2. There is a stink-free method of getting plant food out of comfrey – Find yourself a big-ish container with holes in the bottom(plastic plant pot?), another container which fits neatly in side the first one, and a bucket big enough to put the first container in – oh, and a few broken bricks and some sort of cover for the whole caboodle (old compost bag?).

    Pack the first container to the brim with comfrey leaves and sit it on a brick or two in the bucket. Put the second container on top of the comfrey and fill it with enough bricks to weight it down.

    Cover the lot to keep the rain out and leave it for several weeks. When you remember to check it, the comfrey will have rotted down and the resulting liquid will be in the bottom of the bucket – and it doesn’t stink! Lift out the comfrey and brick containers and pour the liquid into a plastic bottle. Dump the rotted stuff on the compost, pick more leaves and start again.

    I use about 10ml per 2 gallons.

    L xx

  3. I planted my comfrey this year, right at the end of our plot2. It has grown well from the root cuttings I ordered online, I think they sent me 5 and I cut them to make 9.
    They all did fine.
    I have a big bin of nettle tea ‘which smells so so bad’ and I have been adding the comfrey leaves when they get big enough.
    It stinks so bad, but i love the fact it is now producing free fertiliser.
    I also love the fact plot2 is far from our house, or in fact anyone’s house!
    Why is comfrey not as well known, as it really deserves, I wonder?

    • I know what you mean – I thought the garden centres would be peddling this one like a good ‘un! My friend suggested another way – it will be on this comment thread somewhere – which I’m giving a go. Will keep you informed… 🙂

  4. Pingback: Putting the beds to bed | Chooks and Roots

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