This article is all about a fabulous, often overlooked plant – comfrey. I cant actually grow much comfrey myself due to a lack of spare space (all my extra ground was used for a wildflower garden this year. See photos below). However, I grow and use what I can (and I also scour the firelds around me for nettles and comfrey).
It’s really important to know exactly what you put into the garden so I would like to explain how to make your own excellent organic plant food that you can use in the garden, with this plant.
Comfrey as a Fertiliser
Comfrey is one of those plants that has deep tap roots. It sends its roots down into the soil, reaching over 10 feet deep (3 metres) and unlocks all thenutrients that are buried deep into the subsoil. iIt draws up things like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – the nutrients that all plants require in order to maintain a healthy system, and avoid disease.
As such, this plant is a miracle plant as far as organic plant food goes. However – if it’s not controlled i.e., if it is allowed to run to seed then this plant can become evasive, very quickly. You can control the plant and stop it spreading all over your garden. simply cut the comfrey back before it flowers then you could use this plant both as a food for you, and for plants.
By cutting it back, it would not be able to spread because it wouldn’t produce seed. There is a downside to doing this though. The flowers of the comfrey plant are much loved by bees, wasps are another pollinating insects. So here’s how we can grow this plant and allow it to flower but not become invasive. There is a variety which is named Bocking 14 (don’t aks me why). Bocking 14 is sterile and what that means is that you can grow comfrey in your garden without the worry of it spreading and taking over the garden. The variety Bocking 14 has beautiful bell shaped flowers that the bees absolutely adore.
So we know that bercause this variety is sterile, we cannot grow more from seed. So her’es how to do it if we want ot increase your plants. Dig up a plant and cut the roots into pieces, 2 – 3 inches long (5 – 8 cm). Plant the root pieces sideways into pots until they start to grow.
You can then plant your new young plants into the desired location. In no time at all, you will have lots of new plants. You can actually cut or harvest comfrey up to four times a year, and this is when you can make the best organic plant fertiliser that you can lay your hands on.
How to Make Comfrey Tea
There are two ways in which to make what is known as comfrey tea. The first method is to cut the leaves from the plant, then roughly tear them up with your hands into a bucket. Add some nettles too for some extra potency – a 50/50 ratio is good.
Cover the leavesw with water. Loosely place a lid or cover on the bucket. I usually stir mine once a day over a few weeks. As the leaves break down and start to rot they release their mineral and nutrient content into the water (and in doing so they give off a really foul smell so don’t stick your nose in the bucket!) After a few weeks, strain off the fould smelling liquid. Put the used leaves no your compost pile. Careful now – the liquid is extremely concentrated and could burn plants very easily,. When you come to use it, add it to a watering can in a ration of 10:1.
The second way (and not very well known) is to build yourself a comfrey pipe.
If you want to know how to make the comfrey pipe, it is explained on the Gardening Data website.
Here is my wildflower area:
Take a look at some great recipes using this extremely versatile plant as a food, on the Spiceography website