Welcome To The Wonderful World of...
Comfrey, not content with being a mere super food, comfrey is termed a super PLANT! It can be used as a medicinal herb, tea, vegetable, animal feed and green composting material. This plant can be tall and can be wide spreading. If in the ground it can reach a height of 60 to 90cm. I grow this comfrey in white poly boxes for now and they get 30cm leaves. Comfrey have large, coarse leaves and flowers which can be blue or creamy white and bloom all summer. It is easy to grow, spreads rapidly once established and lives for many years.
Comfrey is organic gardening GOLD! It’s easy to grow, easy to use and incredibly beneficial to the garden. The roots draw nutrients from deep in the soil and transfer all the goodness into their leaves.
Scientifically, comfrey contains more Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potash (K) than most commercial feeds available and around twice as much Potash as farmyard manure or indoor compost. Hello! ...Super plant!
The leaves can be used as a mulch or chopped and mixed with leaf mould to make a base for potting compost or you can make your own organic liquid fertilizer out of mushed comfrey leaves.
Comfrey is especially valuable on crops that benefit from high doses of potassium, especially tomatoes, runner and dwarf beans. Harvested leaves are simply laid on the ground around your plants to mulch. Use as a top dressing, especially around soft fruit bushes. As they break down gently cultivate them in. Comfrey is also incredibly useful as a compost activator. It is so rich that it not only enriches the soil but encourages the heating up process.
What To Do With My New Comfrey Roots? ...
Plant out into a good quality seed raising mix or similar, cover and keep moist. You will see you new plants in a very short timeframe ie under a week.
Water moderate to heavy but maintain drainage. Enrich the soil regularly with compost or manure. Divide plants with multiple crowns or dig up part of the root and replant. Cut leaves regularly from the base. This will stop flowering and allow the plant to put more energy into producing leaves.
Growing comfrey in your garden should be planned well. Do not plant comfrey close to smaller plants. It is a pretty tough plant that will grow bigger every year and if given the opportunity to reseed itself, it will do so generously so do choose your location with care. There is usually a disused corner that will make a great site for your comfrey bed or it can be grown in a contained trench.
Comfrey will thrive in full sun or in partial to near full shade. Being a fleshy plant it will need a lot of water and a soggy patch will be a plus. Light sandy soils will benefit from organic matter.
Turn the soil over and remove any perennial weed roots. Comfrey grows very densely and will be difficult to weed. It does tend to shade out most weeds once established. If you have any manure - even poultry manure - fork this into the top 15cm (6in) of the soil. Comfrey is great for soaking up nutrients and, unlike most plants, will not burn with raw manure. This is a real plus in that you just throw half bags of manure straight on top! Being a root plant means that, even if you do harm some leaves, it will send up more leaves quick smart.
Once comfrey starts growing, it doesn't stop until the first cold snap. In the winter the plants go dormant and it's then that a thick layer of manure can be applied.
To get more plants, push your spade through the middle of a plant and lever up a portion. Take root cuttings (about 2 inches long) and away you go again. Any leftover bits will happily root wherever you put them.
You will be surprised how quickly Comfrey grows. When the flowers appear take a cut. Use a pair of shears and cut about 20cm (6in) from the ground. Comfrey has little hairs on the leaves, which can irritate, so wearing gloves is recommended.
In the second year your comfrey patch starts to really pay off. In the spring it will leap back from its winter sleep. Your first cut will get the spuds off to a good start. After that you should get at least a further three or four cuts.
If it's the roots you're after, those can be dug in the autumn.
Comfrey has long been known in Britain as a medicinal herb, it goes by a wide array of folk names including boneset, bruisewort, healing herb, knit bone, and miracle herb. Needless to say, the many unofficial titles bestowed upon comfrey speak volumes about its actions as a medicinal plant.
The Saxons referred to this plant as yulluc and used it in travel protection magic. Comfrey was apparently also given to bards and minstrels to protect them in their wanderings.
All parts of the plant have healing properties. It is widely known for its use on bone, cartilage, connective tissue and for skin complaints and it can also help reduce bruising. Comfrey is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and has been found to break down red blood cells, therefore supporting its use for bruising.
The leaves can be made into an ointment or poultice and used externally as a poultice for rheumatic pain and bruises, for ulcers and soft swellings. A good handful of chopped comfrey leaves can be boiled wrapped in a piece of cotton or towelling and after cooling, applied to the required area for no more than eight hours.
Non Medicinal Uses...
One of the major practical uses for the gardener is growing comfrey as a green manure as it ‘fixes’ many nutrients and trace elements by its growth.
Comfrey can be cut at least several times per year, but remember - the first cut of the year in spring, should go in to the furrow before the potatoes. Sometimes I cut my comfrey at least once per month here in seqld and use the leaves directly as compost on the top of other pots. It breaks down that quickly!
It is a valuable addition to the compost heap as a compost activator - comfrey is so rich that it not only enriches the soil but encourages it to heat up. If you keep chickens you can feed wilted comfrey to them.
As a companion plant, Comfrey is beneficial to avocado and most other fruit trees. Slugs adore cut comfrey leaves, but interestingly leave the plants alone. Use this to your advantage to easily “harvest slugs” – place the large leaves on beds and leave overnight. When you return the comfrey leaves will be full of slugs. Remove and despatch the blighters. Repeat the procedure as required.