Comfrey-- a different kind of fertilizer

Discussion in 'Fruit and Veg Gardening' started by Sjoerd, Feb 24, 2008.

  1. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Comfrey--Symphytum officinalis

    Comfrey can be grown and it's leaves harvested several times a season from permanent plants in your bed; or, it can be grown, pulled-up and laid out to wilt and rot as a mulch.

    It can be used in several ways:
    1)- One way is to harvest the leaves and make a "tea".
    The liquid is most often used as a tomato food, but can be used to feed a variety of plants including runner beans.
    2)- It is an excellent compost starter and adds nutricious enrichment.
    3)- If you are planting middle or late spuds put the leaves into the furrows before planting.
    4)- Use the wilted leaves as a mulch around toms and potatoes.
    5)- Another way is to pull-up the whole plant and use that directly on or in the earth. You may want to remove the roots to be sure that they do not take hold again.

    Making Comfrey "Tea":
    What you need is a barrel or some type of container, fill it with leaves (and stems if you want), top off with rain water or tap water that has stood for more than 24 hours and let it stand for 4 or 5 weeks.
    * NOTE-this may smell like sewerage, so keep it at the furtherest corner of your property.

    Making a Permanent Bed:
    Comfrey does really well in a sunny or partially shady place. Choose an unimportant piece of land that is out of the way to make the bed.
    Dig your soil and make it loose so that it's roots can easily grow downwards.
    You can plant seeds or buy little plantlets to get started.
    Sow them into individual pots at home or plant them directly into the bed that you have prepared. Planting times are March-May and September.
    Plant them about 2 feet apart.
    If your soil is chalky, correect this by adding some acidy components like compost for instance.
    You should not harvest any the first year, but the second year is when it will really let you see what it can do.
    You should easily get three harvests per year...and a fourth one if it's a good season.
     
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  3. Palm Tree

    Palm Tree Young Pine

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    Wow I never thought of Comfrey as fertilizer. 8) One is relaly never too old to learn something new.
    Sjoerd this is rather exciting. I have new respect for Comfrey.

    I do not know whether I am wandering off the topic here but when I think of Comfrey, I think herbs first and foremost. I use the leaves to treat skin irritations - Comfrey oil
    First I pick clean dry leaves and cut them into 25 mm squares.
    Then I pack them in a clean dark jar and cover it with a good oil. Incidently, I make use of a srewtop lid. It is best to leave the jar covered for a minimum of two years. This is then the oil that I use for any skin irritation.
    There is a quicker method too - the Comfrey lotion method. one can also warm equal amounts of chopped Comfrey and aqueous cream for about 20 minutes and then strain it into sterilized jars.)
    WHen I run out of oil or lotion then I simply make use if the juice of the fresh Comfrey leaves which I rub on the skin to sooth insect bits and stings. Working in the garden does expose one to bees and at night mozzies can be a pest and there is always some mozzy that makes it through the herb curtain (that is what I call my rosemary plants) into the room. I prefer using herbs and try to stay away from toxic insecticides.

    And of course I chop the young leaves finely and use it in salads, soups and stews.
    And the decadent choice - coating the young Comfrey leaves in batter, frying it in oil and eating it with salt and pepper. I sometimes even eat the stems in this way. HOWEVER I would not recommend eating Comfrey more than once a week.

    Gosh to think that I think only eating and healing, the humble Comfrey also fertilizes. Thanks for the tip Sjoerd.
     
  4. Droopy

    Droopy Slug Slaughterer Plants Contributor

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    I'm impressed at the information the pair of you just managed to get across to me. I've always been told that I should never grow comfrey because it's very invasive and can actually behave more like a weed than a garden plant. After reading your posts, I might decide to grow it after all.
     
  5. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Hi Palm Tree,

    Great post there. I knew of using it in an ointment form for certain skin disorders, although I have never personally used it myself.
    I have been using Dockweed for be stings and nettle 'burns', but this is another good solution for that too.
    You added some important information about this helpful and multifacited plant. Hopefully folks will think about the comfrey and it's possibilities in a different way.

    Thanks for your great post
     



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  6. sharon mc

    sharon mc Seedling

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    It's also meant to be a good plant to have in chicken runs, too!
     
  7. Biita

    Biita Arctic-ally Challenged Forager

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    Wow,, I didn't know about the fertalizer part of comfrey, but Palm beat me to the food source of comfrey,, i guess we all have our ways of warding off bugs and for bites,, mine is calendula, for irritations and scrapes and calendula mixed with cat nip in a lotion or soft salve for bug repelent.

    Great info you two,, 2 thumbs up for that!
     
  8. trudy

    trudy In Flower

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    Ditto here. Great info! But I am a little confused about ingesting it though. From what I've read about it it isn't advised to eat it. But what do I know. I grow it here although it isn't zoned for this far south. But I have had good luck with growing in large containers. I like making salves an lip balms with it. I mostly use it for cuts an scraps that haven't gotten infected. An its great for chapped, wind burned lips. Works great!
     
  9. glendann

    glendann Official Garden Angel

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    My grandmother raised comfrey for medicine and lotion .If anyone has problems with turkey or bufflo knats use vanilla flavoring like any kind of repellent.It is good for down by rivers on wet seasons.
     
  10. Palm Tree

    Palm Tree Young Pine

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    Hi BIITA - I think we are a lot alike when it comes to eating :D I eat most herbs, but always try to stay within bounds and not over indulge as some of them can have adverse effects.

    You are right TRUDY. One should be careful when ingesting any kind of herb. ALWAYS seek medical advise first if you are unsure.

    I know I should not indulge, but I cannot help myself when the lovely goodies are there. AND I make a point of not eating it more than once within a seven day period. (IN fact I only eat it about four times a year).
     
  11. Netty

    Netty Chaotic Gardener Plants Contributor

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  12. flowerpower313

    flowerpower313 Seedling

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    Sjoerd, great post! I never heard of using it to fertilize tomatoes. But I'll give it a try.
     
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  13. Sapphire

    Sapphire Seedling

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    Hey! Lots more info I can use, thanks! One use I know my mom got out of it when I was about 8, is she had a bad break in her leg from falling and had it in a cast for about 10 months and it was only about half healed at that point. She was so sick of her wheelchair and of feeling so useless that she decided at that point to have the DR cut the cast in half so she could put a comfrey poultice on it and tape the cast back on. (she steeped the whole leaf comfrey and soaked a towel in teh tea and put both leaf and tea towel on her leg and changed it out twice per day). Anyway, It healed completely within just a few weeks and impressed dr's and was so happy to have her mobility back! Just wanted to share this info incase it could help anyone that might be in any injury where comfrey could help.
     
  14. Netty

    Netty Chaotic Gardener Plants Contributor

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    I've heard that works for bruises too Sapphire.
     
  15. Sapphire

    Sapphire Seedling

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    Yes! It (comfrey cream) works on scars and as far as I know as well as stretch marks etc..
     
  16. Palm Tree

    Palm Tree Young Pine

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    THis is really a great thread that you started Sjoerd. I am learning a whole lot here.
    I showed some of my friends here a printout of this thread and they were impressed. Obviously it sparked a lot of conversation and one of them told me the following:

    COmfrey root can be used to make a remedy for gout.
    Boil 3 teaspoons of chopped, well washed comfrey roots in 4 cups of water for about 20 minutes.
    Steep, then strain and bottle.
    Store in the fridge; take one small wineglassful three times a day for a maximum of three days running.
    Then MISS TWO days. Comtinue the treatment for no more than 10 days.

    (THis tip is from a lady who is well into her seventies)
     

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